As the founder and CEO of Phantom Events Management, Katayoun Bayat is responsible for organising events that range from charitable fundraisers to large-scale corporate events and elaborate society weddings. Her daily life is focused on catering to her clients, executing and delivering on their expectations, and making them happy. Perhaps that’s why, when it comes to her home, she makes no compromises. Her house is chic and quirky, with a mix of contemporary furniture, collectible art and Italianite pieces, but it is also deeply personal – a space where every detail has been thought through in order to maximise her, and her family’s, comfort.
Kathy – as her friends call her – shares her six-bedroom open-plan villa in Umm Suqeim with her son and their four cats. Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, she finds solace in the noises that emanate from the tree-lined street. “I grew up in a big city. I like that my home is central as I can still hear the sounds of the cars that go by, and the laughter of passersby, so I feel connected to the community around me,” she says.
Kathy prefers to eschew trends and lets her heart dictate her aesthetic choices, retaining a strong, emotional connection to every decorative item in her home. “When I travel, I find pieces that I love because it reminds me of something I love – whether that’s home, parents, friends or a particular place. There is a very strong spiritual connection that I have with whatever I do.” She admits that her idiosyncratic art choices do not always please everyone, but they are not meant to. “I have quite a few collectible pieces of art that might not be to everyone’s tastes but I think they’re stunning; I’m passionate about art and the work of these artists really appeal to me. After all, it has to be kind to my eyes more than anyone else’s.”
A vintage Hermès clutch among other collectibles, and a series of books by U.S. Presidents
One of Kathy’s favourite artworks is a series of dark, blurred faces by Iranian painter Reza Derakshani, entitled Identity Crisis. Kathy’s parents were among the millions of affluent, educated Iranians who left the country following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, creating a new generation of Iranians in the European and American diaspora. “We are all children of parents that had to leave Iran at their peak and start over elsewhere. It’s something that all of us can relate to. These paintings remind me of that shared history,” she says.
Kathy’s parents have been a continual source of inspiration, fueling her career successes. “Perhaps I was lucky. My parents instilled in me that gender does not define one’s abilities. It’s your educational values and perseverance that empower you to achieve whatever you want,” she recalls.
Prior to starting Phantom Events Management in Dubai in 2013, Kathy worked for a number of investment banks in America and Dubai, such as Citigroup and Credit Suisse. As a private banker she frequently flew all over the world to meet her high-net-worth clientele and became sought-after to work with. While she’s built a successful career in both sectors of finance and events, her current position is a source of great fulfilment as it also provides her with the opportunity to mentor women in the workplace. “As women we have such high expectations of ourselves in terms of work ethics, attention to detail, transparency and proficiency, and we admire these qualities in other women. It gives me so much satisfaction to see women come to my company, with just a few years of work experience, and transform themselves into outstanding professionals within a short period of time,” she says, proudly. “I always tell people, “Don’t say it’s not possible. Think beyond that.” I would hate to hear any woman say, “I can’t do it because I’m a woman, or because I live in the Middle East. We can all achieve something to be proud of.” — Nausheen Noor
This article first appeared in the November/December issue of Harper's Bazaar Interiors