Guests of the Lloyd Hotel in May 2016
Occupation: Hida and Amir: Designers & students Minerva Academy, Groningen.
Reza: Calligrapher/ Graduated in International business and management, Groningen.
Photo: Room 202 in the Lloyd Hotel
Interior designers Hida and Amir blew a new life into room 202 in the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy; inspired on the most well-known traditional arts and crafts from Persia: Poetry and weaving. The room officially opened during the Migration Festival on the 29th of May (2016.) If you stay in room 202, you will be surrounded by an art installation whilst having a shower, based on the art of weaving.
The table symbolises the art of poetry. It is designed and made for a poet; a perfect table to sit and write, with extra storage for notes and books. Designed by Amir and made in collaboration with the Irish designer Jeff McDowell. Made to fit the space and give it extra warmth. The calligraphy on the shutters refer to an open book, formed by the letter “B” in Persian language, mirrored.
What caused you to flee?
As I grew older I became critical towards women’s rights in Iran; there are no equal rights for women. After the rising against the election in 2009 the situation changed so I had to leave the country with my sister. I came to Netherlands in June 2011
Reza: I came from a different situation. I came to the Netherlands to study in 2011, on a student visa to study international business. I have been practising the art of calligraphy since I was a kid. Amir and Hida decided to have calligraphy in the interior design project, and they invited me.
What did your life look like in Iran? Were you already involved in art or design in Iran?
I had a good social and family life, I grew up in Teheran. I always wanted to do something to enrich my freedom, but everybody knows being active in politics in Iran will cost you a lot of things. I have been interested in art since my 12th, mostly in architecture. I studied architecture in primary school and right after I started to work in an interior design company, making computer drawings. I was really into interior design which is forbidden to study at University, so I signed up – together with Amir- for an interior design course at a private university. We both worked in different interior design companies.
How did it go building up a new life in the Netherlands?
The first year in the Netherlands was not so much fun. I missed my family, my love, and my work. I was studying Dutch for two and a half year. You know this is the situation; you can never go back to your home country and you don’t know what lies ahead of you. I kept asking myself, should I start doing art projects again and try to find myself through art, or should I start doing something totally different. I did not have enough confidence which was very scary for me. Now I feel very comfortable here. The system here gives you the opportunity to find yourself and to do what you want. When I just came here I thought people would ignore me, because I am from the Middle East. Fortunately that did not happen and now we can do projects like the project we did in the Lloyd Hotel.
What do you call home?
For me Groningen is my home now. I think wherever you feel comfortable and safe you can call home. Whether it is the country in which you are born or another place.
What brings you to Amsterdam?
In October 2015 we received an email from UAF, a foundation which supports refugees to study further in the Netherlands, saying a company was looking for designers. Me and Amir sent our works immediately and were selected for a design project for We Fashion. After this project we continued working with the Refugee company in Amsterdam. On the opening of the Student Hotel – we did the artistic part of the opening- we met students of the Reinwardt academy who asked us to work with them for the Migration event in the Lloyd Hotel.
What is the very last thing you photographed?
We received an assignment from school to ‘show the world like a stage.’ Which we are still developing. Me and Amir made masks from aluminium foil, and photographed of ourselves while wearing the masks. People are often hiding their real face from each other. Yet, if you show your real face or your real character, even if it is an ugly face or an ugly character, people will like it more in the end, because it is real and it is honest. So the message behind the photo’s is: stop hiding yourself, your real self.