Sisterhood and design

Three siblings from Iran showcase why family can be your strongest ally.

It’s a common universal truth that not every set of siblings can handle working together,
but the three sisters behind Toronto’s stunning Unique Art & Deco are really making a name for themselves.

The Yousefi sisters—Maryam, Yasaman and Niloofar—were born in Iran and came to Canada in 2005; they moved to Toronto. The eldest, Maryam, studied interior design when she arrived (and brought an MBA with her from Iran), which fit seamlessly with the family business. (Her parents opened a furniture trading company a couple of years after relocating.) Decor and design are in the sisters’ DNA, so it makes sense that they decided to bring their wealth of knowledge and experience to their store, which opened in 2017.

With degrees in civil engineering and IT management, Yasaman is very involved in the business side of Unique Art & Deco, while Niloofar, who studied graphic design, handles
communications and the company’s social media. Back then, says Yasaman, the sisters were “looking for a new concept when it came to decor stores—purchasing furniture through our unique business style with the customers.” Their first store was located in the Yonge and Sheppard neighbourhood in Toronto’s north end. “We were one of the few stores in the area to offer both luxury and affordable lines of furniture,” says Yasaman. “We also offered every style of design—transitional, traditional, contemporary and everything in between—as well as interior design services.”

It wasn’t long before they moved to midtown, to a swanky location on Avenue Road. Customers come in looking for interesting pieces they aren’t going to find in other stores. “They usually come to us for art deco and unique things—everything from furniture to accessories, bedding to lighting, etc.,” says Yasaman, adding they carry a slew of
impressive designer lines. “We love the sophistication and simplicity of these designers.
They always choose such amazing colours.”

When it comes to the pieces they bring into the shop, it’s up to Maryam—who is inspired by more contemporary design—to watch the trends each season, and every year the sisters go to furniture markets in the US and Italy. “We help Maryam choose pieces but she uses her artistic talent and taste, as well as the taste of the Avenue Road community,” Yasaman says.

These days the sisters spend their time curating furniture and accessories, liaising with clients and, after two years, they’re still learning to be a successful team. “It’s amazing working with Maryam and Niloofar. Each of us is responsible for what we do best and we almost always cooperate,” Yasman says. “We rely on each other and it’s working.”