Real Estate

The owner of Unique Design finds inspiration everywhere – and then turns it into stunning pieces of art, architecture and craftsmanship

Not only does Farshad Mahramnia see creative potential everywhere – he also brings it home.

This means two things:

– His wife, Laleh Zadeh, doesn’t get a chance to park in their crowded-with-potential garage/storage area/studio all that often.

– Once Farshad acts on all that artistic potential (and he does, eventually), he brings it inside their home – where it is head-spinningly apparent what a visionary creator he is.

Farshad owns and operates Unique Design (@uniquedesignllc on Instagram), envisioning, designing and creating what he calls “one-of-a-kind architectural, decorative and functional art.”

“Unique” and “one-of-a-kind” are perfectly appropriate adjectives, but sometimes you just wish there were one more powerful.

“Inspired,” with the strength of several senses in one word, could be a contender.

Farshad and Laleh moved here from Iran 19 years ago and now live in Bellevue with their two daughters, 11-year-old Rojan and 8-year-old Roxana.

“When we came to the U.S. as immigrants, to survive, we really needed a job,” says Laleh. “He started as an assistant to a carpenter. Because he’s an artist with a vision, he picked it up really quickly and started his own business in one year. Because he has a good vision, custom houses incorporated his art. He’d say, ‘I have this idea: You can make this wine-cellar door very pretty.’ A few years ago, we started our own house.”

Farshad’s talent is inherent; his influences, like his work, have evolved over time. “Back home, I worked in artwork, engraving copper: very traditional art,” says Farshad, who is currently working on a series of brass-and-copper sculptures. “Now art is more of a hobby. Sometimes in my art I don’t want to use anything all-Persian, but when I draw it, it just comes.”

(Such was the case with the gracefully curved columns he designed for his home: “They are not traditional and not modern,” Farshad says.)

Essentially, their entire home (literally, every room) serves as a showroom of influence and inspiration: a livable, luxurious gallery of exquisite design, creativity and skill, inside and out.

The couple had a blank canvas with which to work, after teaming with Seattle architect Chris Luthi on a major remodel of the site’s existing, artless 1959 rambler. Even before its demolition, Farshad was at work, creating.

“The front doors I pre-made one year before the house,” he says. “The stair railing, brass, was pre-made.”

Brass is big here. Bronze, too. Copper. And wood. “All kinds of wood,” Farshad says. “Maple, walnut, birch, cedar. Everything.”

Some pieces have been salvaged from demo sites. Some have been repurposed from old furniture. Some, like the hemlock of the 8-foot-tall front doors, came from a lumber store.

This particular portal of potential first appeared to Farshad in a photo.

“I had an idea, 18th-century French,” he says. “I saw a picture and tried to make it myself. I wanted it to look old. I painted a crack to look a little old; it’s not nice and clean.”

Just inside those amazing doors: a staircase so detailed, so inspired, you will gape at it until you’ve forgotten why you needed to go upstairs.

All Farshad, also.

“The stairs I made myself, from maple, regular lumber,” he says. “I cut it into shape. It’s a little unusual. The brass is inset in iron. This is my idea. I never saw anyone use brass for a picket. For the post, I cut the iron and formed it. I just designed it myself. I was thinking a long time about something brass or copper for the railing.”

In the adjacent living room, Farshad finished and sanded the fireplace (with marble accents) and painted it an antique black. Also, “He painted the shades and added the tassels,” Laleh says.

Farshad made the coffee table, too, which holds a “very old” 35-inch copper tray he brought back from Iran. Other copper trays, or components of trays, show up in the media-room card table and, in the powder room, in the frame around the mirror, on a table under the window and hammered into a bowl for the bathroom sink.

That gorgeous window? Previously just a piece of plain old glass Farshad picked up somewhere, sometime, seeing something.

“He just goes to estate sales and buys it and saves it,” says Laleh. “I say, ‘What are you doing?’ He says, ‘I’m going to do something with it later.’ “

In the media room, the cabinets under a seriously stunning bar of rainforest granite and live-edge maple had rested as potential until inspiration struck to add copper and glass.

“I had it in the garage,” Farshad says. “Usually, when I see something, I buy it and leave it in the garage and use it in a few years. I should be done.”

Laleh is asked: “Do you believe him?”

Potential doesn’t disappear. Creativity doesn’t rest.

“No,” she says, smiling.

Later, outside, where Farshad crafted a spectacular fence from a tree felled by the City of Issaquah (“I kept it two or three years and didn’t know what I’d do with it,” he says), and a gate with historic door-knockers from Iran, he points out the copper fireplace chimney he designed – or, maybe, “is designing,” not quite past-tense.

“I forgot about this one,” he says. “I will keep going.”




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