Connect
To Top

Community Highlights: Meet Tamarra Younis of Union Of Art Interiors and Sayida Life

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamarra Younis.

Hi Tamarra, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Where to begin! I guess it could be said that I have lived my life at the cultural crossroads of the Middle East, Europe and North America. I was raised between London, Dubai, Lebanon and New York City. As a young girl, I spent many of my weekends and time off from school hunting for treasures with my fabulous art and antiques-loving mother. Though at the time I would have much preferred to be playing in the park or eating an ice cream, I was being dragged around the world from shop to souk, getting lost in antique markets, hunting for bargains at car boot sales, and being warned not to put my grubby little fingers on any of the beautiful paintings in my mum’s favorite art galleries. I could never have predicted then that those experiences would have such a profound effect on who I am today, but I have to confess it’s probably been one of my biggest inspirations.

Before embarking on a richly varied working career in fashion, set design, fine art and furniture design, I studied theater production at Central Saint Martins and fashion design at FIT. I started my career in fashion in New York City but ultimately I followed my heart here to sunny Los Angeles about 12 years ago. When I first got here I was hustling to get my interior design company up and running, Union of Art Interiors, while working as a set designer for a project called Room 205. We were working 14-hour days in a 10 x 10 rehearsal space in the arts district downtown. Building elaborate sets on a shoestring budget, shooting live bands, on a diet consisting mostly of pizza and too much coffee, and with no air conditioning on top of it all. It was a challenge to say the least! That’s where I met my right-hand lady and now business partner, Katie Fern. She was hired to work as my assistant and I knew if we could make it through that wild project and still want to cheer each other at the end of the day, we could make it through just about anything! When the Room 205 project was wrapping up, I knew I’d be a fool to let her get away. Fortunately for me, she said yes, and we’ve been working together building Union of Art Interiors ever since.

Katie Fern and I essentially come from opposite sides of the world, we have totally different upbringings, tastes, styles and are generations apart in age. Despite all of that, we have found a harmonious working dynamic over the years. When we met, Fern had just moved here from Austin Texas and was playing drums in a punk rock band called Susan. She didn’t have any tangible experience working in Interior Design but had also grew up scouring vintage markets, loved art, and despite being young and a punk rocker was incredibly detailed oriented and reliable. On first glance, you wouldn’t think we had much in common but turns out she has become the yin to my yang! Over the years, this dynamic has helped us both develop and grow. We have this sense that when we put our heads together anything is possible. That feeling gave us the drive to push Union Of Art to the next level and move from just the two of us working at my kitchen table to opening our design studio and retail shop in Highland Park. Sayida is a representation of the things Fern and I both love and has become an outlet for all the wild and unique things that inspire us every day.

It’s been a long and winding road to get to where we are today. There have been lots of ups and downs, but one sentiment that both Katie and I can testify to is that if you are open to the opportunities life throws your way, no matter how random they may be or seem at the time, you can really carve out a colorful, exciting life and career that’s full of fun and passion!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In one way or another, we feel like every day we deal with something new and unexpected. Being open and flexible to what next has always been our mantra but one of the biggest challenges Fern and I have faced over the years has been learning when it’s right to say no to a project. As our business has grown, we always have a lot going on. As they say, being busy is a blessing but between juggling all our interiors clients and keeping Sayida stocked and fabulous we hardly have a moment to spare. From LA to Ireland, we have been incredibly lucky to have had so many opportunities to work on amazing and unique projects around the world. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves and have to say yes, even when we are already maxed out… I mean, how could you possibly turn down the opportunity to design a magical healing yurt in Big Bear, a Persian Palace Beach House in Manhattan, a Boho compound in Joshua Tree, a Midcentury 70’s Bungalow in Studio City, or a historical Craftsman remodel in Eagle Rock? However fantastic the project is, we’ve learned the hard way that there are only so many hours in the day. It’s important to make sure there is also time to unwind with our friends, families, and of course – a delicious cocktail!

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
From a large-scale remodel to a simple one-room makeover, Union Of Art Interiors provides full-service interior design and architecture services. Whether it’s merely redecorating a room, a complete new build, or the renovation of your current home, our goal is to work together with you to define your personal style and build the vision of your dream home! From yurts to multi-million dollar homes, there is no project too big or too small for us to tackle. We strive to make the design process fun, inspiring, and approachable for all budgets. We believe that a home comes to life when we work hand in hand with our clients. We embrace our client’s personal creative visions to create designs that showcase their individual unique needs and tastes. What sets us apart from other design firms is that we truly believe a home should be a reflection of the people who inhabit it, not just a collection of the latest trends in home decor. We also offer a wide range of other specialty services including, real estate staging, home organization, custom art framing and curation/ hanging, custom furniture design, custom window treatments, paint color coordination, space planning, art selection, and more!

In addition to Union Of Art Interiors, we have our little retail shop in Highland Park. Sayida celebrates the ’70s bohemian lifestyle and is the home of weird and wonderful pieces we’ve curated from around the world. Our signature style revels in a deep love of time, culture, people and place. Both new and old, we have an assortment of fabulous vintage clothing, furniture, home accessories, and art. One of our main goals is to make sure Sayida is an accessible place to find an amazing treasure, unique gift, or a fun new outfit for any budget or style. Our hours are a bit random, so be sure to send us a message on IG if you would like an appointment to shop.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
You know how earlier I mentioned that we need to learn to say no… Well, here is another one of those instances where we just couldn’t resist an opportunity despite the possibility of it being totally crazy!

During the pandemic, we started obsessing over the idea of remodeling a vintage trailer. We managed to find ourselves searching ad after ad on Craigslist for the perfect candidate. Sure enough, a beautiful gem in Arizona pops up and next thing you know, I’m crossing state lines to see her! A few days later, we became the proud owners of a 28-foot-long 1968 Streamline Empress Trailer. We named her Josephine aka “JoJo” after the French Empress, a name which also happens to be the name of my mum.

Sometimes things in life come full circle, my families business back in London actually is a caravan remodeling business. One of my first jobs in design was working for the family selecting finishes and designing the interior spaces of this same type of mobile camping home. On top of that, I’ve nicknamed Fern the camping queen, she hits the road every chance she gets with her partner in crime Dr. Jules in their vintage Volkswagon Westfalia. When she comes back to work after a few days off, I’m always excited to hear what adventures they’ve managed to get into!

JoJo has become the perfect opportunity for us to combine all our passions for unique spaces and design. We wanted to create a fun urban glamping experience that celebrates the free-spirited era in which the trailer was made. She found herself a cozy spot parked on the side of my house on top of the hill in Mount Washington. Since she arrived, we’ve been busy building out the space around her with a private deck filled with plants and lots of cozy lounge seating, a big bbq for summer night grilling, a dining area for 4, and an outdoor shower for the not so shy! Of course, she has been getting a few glamorous interior updates as well while maintaining much of her original charms. From a single-family owner, she was in almost perfect condition inside and out so we didn’t want to gut her completely.

Designing the trailer has been a really fun process with lots of challenges but we’ve learned so much from the experience! We came to find out an interesting fact about the neighborhood as well… Turns out, Mount Washington has always provided a way to flee the city at a relatively low cost. The early buildings of the area ranged from primitive hunting lodges and humble cottages to elegant permanent residences designed by renowned architects. In the early 1900s, Hotel Mount Washington attracted the attention of celebrities of the era, artists, silent film stars, and started the development of the Mount Washington we know and love today. We hope JoJo will be an ode to that history and give people from outside the neighborhood a chance to experience a little taste of the idyllic, rustic, sun-filled, and diverse area that is Mount Washington! Of course, it’s wonderful to be in the hills of Malibu or Topanga, but we thought there was something unique about being so close to downtown. Jojo will not only will be easily accessible to all the amazing offerings of the city and surrounding neighborhoods but will also provide a more affordable option than the coastal destinations currently available.

JoJo is due to be up and running in the next month so stay tuned for that!

Pricing:

  • Initial Consultation: Up to 1-hour call or video meeting to review project scope and requirements (Free)
  • Designer Hourly Rate: $155.00
  • Designer Day Date: $900.00

Contact Info:

Image Credits
MICHELLE PULLMAN, MADELINE TOLLE, KATIE FERN

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in local stories