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In a world full of pandemic-inspired career-change stories, Sara Hayat’s stands out as a big leap. During the 2020 lockdown, the Greenwood Village-based futures and cryptocurrencies trader found herself, like most of us, stuck at home. To clear her mind, she began sketching pieces of furniture—a return to an interest in design that she’d harbored since childhood. She drew inspiration from a wide variety of sources: midcentury Brazilian furniture maker Joaquim Tenreiro, famed Tuscan furniture company Edra, and even antique catalogues from the 1800s. In 2021, Hayat left the finance industry to pursue her furniture design ambitions full time and has since created a collection of heirloom-quality pieces that have won prestigious international design awards—including a bronze in furniture design at Italy’s A’Design Awards & Competition (for her artful Bevel sofa).
Of course, reinvention like this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You could say it was in her blood; Hayat’s family has been in the furniture-making business in current-day Peshawar, Pakistan, for more than 150 years. “We have created pieces for dignitaries the world over,” she says of the family company, M. Hayat & Bros. Her great-grandfather designed furniture for Britain’s King George V when he visited India in 1911, and her grandfather made a rocking chair that was gifted to former President John F. Kennedy (and sat in the White House until recently). Plus, Hayat says, she grew up in a home with artistic parents who saw the value in things like fine photography, classical music, and purposeful interior design. “I remember my mom would always style our house a certain way, and she’d say, ‘Your home should be a reminder of your state of mind or the life you aspire to have,’” she says. “Early on I was cognizant of the power of intentional design and its ability to uplift and reimagine what is possible.”
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Today, every Sara Hayat Designs piece—from the delicate, clover-shaped Fleur settee to the geometric, velvet T4 Modular sofa—is built at the still-operating 100-acre, family-owned manufacturing facility in Pakistan. “We’ve had our team for decades—who then train new apprentices to carry on the practices and techniques they’ve mastered over the years.” Of course, this means each hand-made piece is an investment. But what you’re getting is timeless design steeped in tradition. “Furniture is intimate. It is a means of self-expression and an extension of who we are,” Hayat says. “I learned from my family that furniture is not just decorative. It can be a powerful force that affects how we feel, what we do, and how we see the world.”
Hayat’s new furniture showroom in Greenwood Village is now open to the public. Sarah Hayat Design; 35 Coral Place; open Monday-Friday, 9am–4pm.