Introducing, Abbas Rachaman!
Say hello to Abbas, who is joining our Residential Studio, with an interior design focus. Besides his font of knowledge of plumbing fixtures after years in the kitchen and bath design industry (pun intended?), Abbas brings a buoyant cheer to his interactions and loves collaborating closely with clients.
June 4, 2020
Hi, my name is Abbas.
I typically have to introduce myself by saying, “My name is Abbas,” — rather than, “I'm Abbas” —because people generally think I’m saying, “I’m a boss.” It’s pronounced A-boss, or, as I like to say, it’s like the band ABBA, just add an S. Also, I was the original dancing queen! Hahaha.
I graduated from the Art Institute of Houston (CIDA) in 2009 with a BFA focusing on Interior Design. I am originally from Houston, Texas; however, this is my third time living in Seattle. Such a hidden jewel it used to be. I love that we actually have seasons and I am able to walk places; walking is not something people did in Houston.
One of my first jobs in the industry was at Best Plumbing in Wallingford back in 2005. That was during the second time I lived in Seattle, while I attended the Art Institute of Seattle. There, I sold high-end plumbing fixtures and I started to develop a love for kitchen and bathroom design, as well as for good quality plumbing fixtures. I’ve always been very client-driven and customer service oriented, as I worked retail jobs throughout high school, but this was beyond that, and I even started getting repeat clientele. The firsthand experience in the industry — working not only with clients but with so many architects, designers, and homeowners — was a great addition to my design education.
I moved back to Houston in 2007, transferring my credits to the Art Institute of Houston. There, I worked for another high-end plumbing showroom during the day, a café/wine bar at night, and interned at Brooks-Reid Residential Design Studio. Now, I know you must be thinking, “How on Earth did you have three jobs and go to school?” Let’s just say, you would be very surprised at what you can do when you actually have to do it. Somehow, I was able to get through it all and I graduated in 2009.
Searching for a full-time job in design wasn’t easy when the economy crashed. Through a stroke of luck, my old manager at Best Plumbing called and said she had heard I was looking for a new job and wanted to know if I’d be interested in moving back to Seattle. My boyfriend and I had a conversation that night and he decided to take a blind leap of faith and move to a city he’d never been to with a guy he’d only been with for a year. He never wanted to stay in Houston, and I had always told him about how much I loved it when I lived in Seattle.
So, my journey back to Seattle for the third time starts with Best Plumbing, which led to me being one of three selected candidates to help open the first Kohler store on the west coast, the Kohler Signature Store in Bellevue. There, I designed bathrooms and sold Kohler and Kallista plumbing fixtures. It was nice for a time, but I wanted to design more than just luxury bathrooms, so I set my sights elsewhere and landed a job at Tenhulzen Residential, which was my first time working for a true design-build firm. I learned so much about design and construction, and how there has to be good communication between the two for your project to be built properly. I tackled all sizes of projects, from as small as a mudroom to a two-story addition whole house remodel. Tenhulzen led me to Neil Kelly Co., which is one of the three largest design-build firms in the United States.
My new role at Neil Kelly was a mixture of sales and design, which was the perfect blend of my background. There I got more in-depth with the design-build process, worked more closely with clients, did monthly seminars on kitchen and bathroom remodels, volunteered my time to help build a low-income tiny house with the non-profit organization Sawhorse Revolution, helped to organize and execute the first Rampathon event for Neil Kelly, and worked on my first commercial project. It was a very fast-paced environment!
Designing projects and working with clients is my true passion, but I was dedicating more of my time to the sales part of the process. Once again, another rarity happened. The architecture firm that I was already working with on a project was hiring a new designer. This firm was awesome and had all the qualities I would hope for in an employer: great benefits, a huge understanding of the importance of company culture, volunteering and community outreach, and holding clients and customer service in extremely high regard. This firm is Board & Vellum, and I am so happy to be a part of such a cool firm where I’ll get to follow my passion. I hope the honeymoon phase never ends! Oh, and my boyfriend is doing great. He made director this year at a job I helped him get when we first moved here.
When I’m not working, I have two usual outcomes. Wintertime: I’m usually relaxing at home with a good movie, binge-watching a show, reading a physical book, cooking, or organizing. (Basically, sheltering in place! Every winter has prepared me for Covid-19!) Summertime: I’m usually outside on a rooftop with a cocktail and friends, out eating at new restaurants, at the gym, traveling, having a dinner party, on a friend’s boat, or at a park (basically, just living life to its fullest).