I believe a house is a building, and a home is a feeling,” Shiva Safai tells us, sagely. “This apartment is my happy place. It’s the first time in several years that I have somewhere that is truly mine.”
It’s heartfelt and somewhat bittersweet; a wonderful, palette-cleansing marker of independence and new beginnings for the 38-year-old Iranian-born entrepreneur.
Shirt, Dhs640, Ginia. Jeans, Zara, Shiva’s own. All jewellery, Piaget.
Fittingly, her new digs are fresh, clean and chic; a bright, art-filled apartment down the road from Beverly Hills, with “a great flow,” and a wall of windows that overlook Century City and Santa Monica. “This place is all about the views,” she laughs. “It’s blue skies and sunshine all day and the light gives great energy. As you step out onto the terrace, it’s like a painting. I especially love it at dusk when you see the lights twinkling as they meet the stars on the horizon. I feel it stirs emotions as it changes from day to night.”
It’s a rather romantic observation, perhaps illuminating the kind of sweet, pensive mindset she’s in at this turnkey moment of her life. “It’s good to have somewhere comforting to come back to. I feel so energised when I return home, knowing that it represents a new start at a time in my life that’s so exciting… a new place to create brand-new memories.”
We can see plenty of opportunity for that here – certainly on that beautiful terrace, which she describes as “captivating at night,” or perhaps in the open-plan living room that’s peppered with Restoration Hardware furniture and presided over by a glossy, black Young Chang baby grand piano. “For when there’s a musician in the room,” Shiva tells us with a smile. “I also love cooking with and for friends and family, and this apartment is perfect for entertaining as, with a layout like this, I can host lots of people.”
Dress, Dhs6,475, The Vampire’s Wife at Matches Fashion. Headband, Dhs1,155, Simone Rocha at Matches Fashion. All jewellery, Piaget
It’s clear she’s a family girl through and through. Among the vivid, fresh-cut flowers, piles of fashion tomes and proliferation of Diptyque, (“I have candles in every room, and I combine the scents of Roses, Baies and Ambre,”) the space is peppered with framed pictures of loved ones. “Most days I go to my brother’s gym, Royal Personal Training in Beverly Hills, and have a coffee or two. Then I’m ready to start the day!”
And speaking of starting the day, we’re sure that Shiva’s enviable wardrobe is never a bad place to begin any morning. There are more than a few Hermès Kelly bags and colourful Jimmy Choos lined up neatly to choose from, as well as piles of Piaget accessories – the luxury Swiss jewellery house which Shiva has just been announced as the new face of. “A dream brand to work with,” she tells us, “and it’s come at a poignant moment in my life; a new chapter, a new project.”
Piaget Sunlight collection
We ask how she arranges all these treasures and trinkets: “I organise my closet myself,” Shiva explains proudly. “I can be a little OCD! I put things into colour and category. My day-to-day uniform is simple; a great pair of jeans and a white T-shirt, but I play with jewellery and accessories. People say you’re either a bag girl or a shoe girl, but I am defi nitely a bag and a shoe girl!” You and us both, Shiva.
We spy a number of bold artworks dotted around, which Shiva tells us are her favourite pieces in the apartment. “As soon as I spotted this great portrait of Bowie (Aladdin Sane – Bubblegum) by the German artist Michael Moebius, I knew I had to have it. I was lucky, it was a special gift, and it’s so just much fun. It makes me smile every time I look at it,” she explains fondly. “I’ve also recently acquired a piece by RETNA, which he hand-delivered to the apartment. His work has become iconic; I think it represents everything that art in L.A. is about right now.”
Michael Moebius’ iconic portrait of Bowie is a prized piece
It fits perfectly in her space, adding “a pop of fun to my interiors’ style which is otherwise pretty timeless. You could say it’s a reflection of how I like to dress,” she adds. “It was love at first sight with this apartment. I was immediately drawn to all the natural light streaming in. My childhood was spent in Norway surrounded by the beauty of nature,” explaining her love of “living in the sky,” as she calls it. “I moved to L.A. in my early 20s and I’ve travelled a lot, but I’m always ready to come home. I miss the people, the weather, the way of life… It gets under your skin, and it’s tough to leave.”
No plans to, then? “I’ve learned that while it’s good to have goals and make plans, sometimes life can throw you a curveball. You have to stay focused and not lose sight of your dreams. Only you are in control of your destiny and, as I grow older, I recognise how important it is to have independence and be open-minded. The future has so many exciting opportunities.”
From the September 2019 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia
Photography: Stewart Shining
Styling: Heather Shining