This loyal-to-the-North-Shore brother sister dynamic duo are one half of the team behind the hottest new co-working space in The Shipyards District, Forwardspace.
Identifying a gap in the community they love so much. siblings Shabnam, Shahin, Shahab, and Shahriar Hosseini started Forwardspace to provide office solutions for the new age. They identified an unmet need for a sleek, professional, and state-of-the-art co-working space in North Vancouver and made short work of getting the business ready and launched in 2021.
So, on a hot sunny day in The Shipyards District, we sat down with two of the owners, Shabnam and Shahin, to get to know them a little better.
They grew up in a family of four children in West Vancouver. Shabnam is the older sister and architect behind Forwardspace. Shahin has specialized in property management and marketing and Shahab has focused on the business side. Youngest brother Shahriar is the silent partner. This is the first Shabnam and Shahin have worked together and while they are five years apart in age, it turns out they are the yin to the other’s yang.
The Hosseini siblings have always wanted to assist the community they love in some way. Through the creation of Forwardspace, which is designed to complement people’s businesses, they hope to support North Vancouver in its goal to become one of the most desirable places to live and work. The name Forwardspace refers to the first ship that made it to the North Pole and symbolizes moving forward.
While their career paths and life goals would take Shabnam and Shahin in different directions, eventually they would re-connect to bring this business dream to life.
Shabnam knew from an early age that she wanted to be an architect. Her portfolio of work got her into the University of Toronto’s Master of Architecture program. Prior to that Shabnam had already earned a Master of Engineering Seismic Design and a Bachelor of Applied Science Structural Engineering from The University of British Columbia. Shabnam would go on to work as an architect in the Netherlands, Dubai, and Toronto. Perhaps as a bit of foreshadowing, when she lived in Tehran, she had an architectural studio where she would rent out some of the office space. Eventually, the studio became a collective of artists, designers, and architects. In addition to being the Co-Founder of Forwardspace, she founded SHABOFFICE in 2017, an award-winning research/design/build practice based in Vancouver and Tehran.
Shahin’s path kept him closer to home as he built his career in business. Their family runs a paint factory in Iran and, when they were kids, they would go to the lab and do abstract art with their dad. Shahin always thought that’s where he would eventually end up, but by the end of high school he realized he wasn’t great at chemistry and thought that might be a problem. He would have liked to have become a history teacher, as he loves explaining things to others. However, he didn’t take this track despite holding a B.A. in History and Hellenic Studies from Simon Fraser University and having studied history at Capilano University. Shahin went on to study Property Management at Langara College. For 11 years he was a marketing manager and, since 2014, has been the President of the family business, Prime Canadian Holdings Inc.
Every year since 2005, Shabnam would return home to Vancouver to see her family. Each visit gave her the opportunity to see the development of what is now, The Shipyards District. Both she and Shahin were impressed with the neighbourhood and, by 2019, it was clear this was the ideal place for a business plan they had brewing.
In no time at all, the four siblings created Forwardspace for the community. The space offers hot desks, dedicated desks, private offices, acoustic pods for private calls, social spaces, a kitchen, showers, cubbies that lock, and a terrace with tables offering up stunning downtown Vancouver views. Anyone can use the reception service, business address, and the conference room.
Shabnam designed the offices with minimal yet playful features that are meant to reduce clutter and help you focus. The office is light, bright, and airy, and thanks to the extensive use of glass partitions, natural light is dispersed throughout the space. The green paint colour choice for the ceiling is in honour of North Vancouver’s gorgeous natural beauty – yet another homage to the place they love so much.
5 things you don’t know about Shabnam:
5 things you don’t know about Shahin:
Q. What would you do if you won $5 million?
A. Shabnam – I would put it in the bank and go travelling. Then, I’d learn to sail so that I could compete in the Olympics!
Shahin – I would build a multi-family complex, a “commune,” and fill it with friends and family. Shabnam would be the architect.
Q. What TV shows or movies are you watching?
A. Shabnam – I re-watch my favorite movie Jodorowsky’s Dune. It’s an American French documentary film by Frank Pavish which explores director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to adapt and film the novel Dune. It’s incredible.
Shahin – I love to re-watch Wes Anderson films. Right now, I’m watching Ted Lasso.
Q. What is your favorite meal?
A. Shabnam – I love a good steak and fries with a glass of red wine. When we were kids, our family didn’t cook on Fridays so we’d go out for Persian kabab with rice. With full stomachs we had a sleepy drive home.
Shahin – I love to cook. My speciality is fesenjoon, Persian chicken stew with pomegranate and walnuts. It’s very difficult to make and usually made by a mom or an expert chef.
Q. Who do you admire?
A. Our dad. He’s our role model. He’s hard working, has great vision, and is a people person. He always has a lot on his plate, but he still manages to take care of his family, friends, and employees.
Q. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
A. Trust your gut, we all have imposter syndrome, and drink plenty of water!
Drop by for a friendly chat and an office tour of this stylish, functional, and forward-minded space.
Suite 210 – 233 West 1st Street, 604-998-1404. www.forwardspace.ca