Nina Yashar "I had an intrinsic appreciation for the various shapes of cultural expressions. I guess the more you see, the more you like and the more you love."

Nina Yashar, founder of Nilufar Gallery, the epicenter of historical and contemporary design in Italy, is originally from Theran, but left Iran at the age of six to move to Milan with her family. Her father, a rug merchant, passed on to her a love for finding the most unique and valuable pieces and the sophisticated craftsmanship typical of Persian textiles. Her first gallery is on Via Bigli: the pieces she was selling here a selection of carpets taken from her father’s archive
In 2015 she inaugurated the Depot, a small, living museum, where she selects historical and contemporary pieces, designed by Massimiliano Locatelli. For Nina, curation is innate- something that runs in her blood.
At Nilufar, it’s not so much that budgets are thrown out the window, it’s more that they never existed to begin with. Nina’s business strategy yielded her little profit for a long time, but she explains: “I want people to follow me. I don’t want to follow them.”
(©)Nina Yashar

(©)Nina Yashar

Let’s discover more about her!

– What are the biggest challenges you have met in your career?

The biggest challenge has been introducing contemporary collectible design in my collection and selection, it was a big risk at the time and it took some time for it to start developing in the way you see it today. The second biggest challenge is always collecting, finding new objects and talents. For example, it took me four years to collect the pieces by Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, so it took the gallery four years for it to become an exhibition and a catalog. I’m very proud of that research process and how it came out.

– How would you describe your work?

A constant desire to remain curious, a constant discovery, a constant meeting of creative visions, and ever ending patience. 

– How is your passion for visual art and design born?

I had an intrinsic appreciation for the various shapes of cultural expressions from a very young age, and this was further enriched by my father’s great wealth of knowledge; as I grew older, I committed to developing it through world traveling and learning as much as I could. I guess the more you see, the more you like and the more you love. 

– What is the most difficult work you have done and why?

All works are hard, for many different reasons; I’ve worked on countless projects that have been complicated, but I can tell you that the most complicated are the ones that bring the most satisfaction: for example putting together the Nilufar Depot. It took an enormous amount of energy and resources but I really needed it to acquire more international recognition.

– What is your main source of inspiration?

Everything that exists that is connected to my fantasies and visions.

– What about your next project?

We’ve just taken part in FOG Design+Art, and our next world trip will take us to Nomad in St Moritz. After that, Milan Design Week, of course. Needless to say, we’ve been preparing for months, since the end of last edition’s – we’re getting bigger and more experimental with every year that passes

– Outside of design, what are you currently interested in and how is it influencing your design work?  

I am particularly entranced by visual arts at the moment; I want to see and build a stronger and closer connection between the realms of collectible design and arts. We are, in both cases, talking about artifacts and the two are undoubtedly colliding, pushing each other to be more innovative.

Portrait | (©)Nina Yashar

(©)Nina Yashar