By Candice Georgiadis, Founder of Digital Day Agency

Thrive Global: I had the pleasure to interview Lena Späth. Lena is a German author, traveling between Iran and Munich, Germany. Her self-published book ‘Behind Closed Curtains: Interior Design’ was endorsed by journalists from The Guardian, Conde Nast Traveller, Design*Sponge, AD Magazine and many more. Lena has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies and worked for consulting and internet companies before returning her focus to Iran.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am a big fan of interior design and handmade things. Since I was a child, I re-decorated my space every year. I was reading decor magazines and coffee table books on design in India, Bali, or Buenos Aires. When I started traveling to far away places, I was drawn to the workshops, bazaars, and magnificent architectural sights. The same happened when I came to Iran the first time in 2008.

So I knew about the treasures you could find in Iran, and when in 2016 I left a job with some savings I decided to try an own project; something related to Iran as the sanctions had been lifted recently. A coffee table book showcasing design and architecture but also introducing the country, in general, seemed suitable, and I knew no similar book existed. A book on beautiful private places would draw attention away from politics and onto design and architecture; it would illustrate a positive and uniquely human face of Iran. It was vital for me to tell the stories of Iranians, the people behind these houses, and explain Iranian culture along with design elements. On another note, I felt a book like this would wake up Iranians and especially the younger generation to appreciate their heritage and try to keep and restore older buildings and Iranian traditions and crafts. There is still more innovation needed, but for this to happen, you need to know your own history and identity.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

A friend of mine is friends with the son of Iran’s current president Hassan Rouhani. He told me to sign a copy for him so he could forward it to the president. To make it more impressive, I was supposed to write in Farsi. We included a little message, but I ruined three of my books until the writing was looking fine and without any mistakes.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I can’t recall how many times Iranian men tried to approach me or even proposed to me on Instagram. I am really touchy warm-hearted German, so people often got it wrong. One time at a book signing event, one man started stroking my back when we took a picture together. He said it was his best day in the life. Since then, I am way more serious about coming across self-confident, and a bit distanced >>>