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Sarah Stacey Interior Design is a US based residential interior design studio who has been in business for 10 years. Working on mainly residential projects and small commercial projects like a vegan ice cream shops. Their goal is to create homes that are not just pretty but also meaningful to their clients.

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain. 

Anything that gets me moving a little bit and are easy to listen to. All time favourites for working are: Incidental Boogie by US Girls, Million Dollar Doll by Britta Phillips, Comeback Kid by Sharon Van Etten

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a US based residential interior designer who has been in business for 10 years. I do some very small commercial as well, like a vegan ice cream shop, but mostly I do furnishings and remodels. Our goal is to create homes that are not only pretty, but are meaningful to our clients. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I remember making a little booklet in kindergarten about what you wanted to be when you grew up. I drew a cheerleader, which is funny because that’s not my personality! Haha. But when I was in high school my parents hired a designer to work on their new build. As soon as I learned what this profession was I had my heart set on it.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

Best advice is one I recently received from my business coach, which is to not to hide behind my superpower! Your superpower is essentially what makes you different from others. I was told to stop promoting my white kitchens since everyone designs those and that I should promote work that is authentic and different because that is what makes me unique. 

Worst advice was to take a job because I need the money. I’ve learned that by taking projects you don’t want will increase the likelihood of getting burned out. It takes a while to recover from burnout and I try to avoid it now. And there is usually a reason why you don’t want the job, it could be the scope or a bad vibe. Listed to your gut!

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing?

Spotify! I love listening to my Discover Weekly to hear songs from bands I’ve never heard of. I love music and it is a great way for me to clear my head and get into the zone. 

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

I hope to collaborate with brands to create products like tiles, rugs, light fixtures and furnishings. Also to work in cities throughout the US and some abroad. 

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I am a big softie and feel hard. I cry at commercials, especially ones about animals. Also my close friends know this, but I don’t show it much, but I am very political. 

What resource would help you in your work that you don’t have right now? That one thing that would save so much time and stress. 

Having an office where my employees worked next to me. Right now everyone works at home and it is challenging to communicate ideas efficiently over emails and texts. 

You can only follow 5 people and 5 brands on your social media forever on, who are they?

I find a lot of inspiration from these accounts! Pierre Yovanovitch, 214 Modern, Travel and Leisure Elle Decor, Jen Talbot

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly? 

I look though Instagram and Pinterest a bit. I have a folder saved in IG where I collect things that inspire me over the week then post them every Sunday. I also save images that are inspiring me on projects, so people get a little peek into things I’m working on. I also ask clients to give me inspiration images of items that are unrelated to interiors, it gives you a different perspective when designing a space. 

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

Having options. When you have options you can make better and more interesting choices. 

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Rachel Laxer Interiors is a luxury interior design studio based in London and New York. The studio focuses on high-end luxury residential homes, hospitality and corporate spaces; and delivers bespoke and exclusive interiors to their clients. We had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel and finding out a little more about her and the Studio.

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

Sympathy for the devil – Rolling Stones, My back pages – Bob Dylan, Snow Patrol – Open your eyes

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I run a design firm between New York and London, working on cool exciting projects and survived 2 teenage daughters. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

President of the USA – I think they still need me!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

Best – Go to school at night and get your MBA, Worst – I gave my ex husband my beautiful Rose Wiley painting. Wish I’d held onto it. 

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing?

Spin Class – helps me clear my head and solve design challenges

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

Living between NY and London and continuing to design. 

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I’m actually VERY nice. 

What resource would help you in your work that you don’t have right now? That one thing that would save so much time and stress. 

I wish there was a better connector between clients and designers, helping the new business pipeline. 

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from? 

Jacqueline Kennedy O Nassis – she exemplifies grace under pressure.  I love Jacques Grange for his work. 

You can only follow 5 people and 5 brands on your social media forever on, who are they?

Helene Benhamou, 1st Dibs, Kelly Hoppen, Christiane Lemieux, Pierre Yovanovitch, Holly Hunt London, Karen Swami, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, Phillip Jeffries, Cole and Son

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly? 

I’m constantly curious and always looking – instagram, vintage markets, fashion, art. 

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

curiosity and being positive and kind. 

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Andres Alsina has been honoured this year with the ‘Universal Excellence Award by price Nobel Rene Cassin for his career. A journalist who eventually found his way and his career as an interior designer. We had the honour to interview Andres Alsina and find out what makes him tick.

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

How I need to jump out of bed, the ideal is music with lots of synthesisers or very funky. To listen to the supreme songbird Mariah early in the morning..nobody gets me up , I take the day off. The VOICE I leave it for later in the day . The morning must be an adrenalin rush , something like There Must be an Angel of Eurythmics, Donna Summer’s I Feel Love  or Jump from the Pointer Sisters.

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a South American Interior Designer living in Paris for the past five years. I work for hotels and private projects bringing all sorts of aesthetics solutions. Now a days I spent my days between the production of an iconic collection of furniture that have marked my trajectory and doing the layout of the Premium Edition of my book 6 rue, de las Nouvelle Elegance.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Everything pointed out that I would be a lawyer, but the studies of journalism that I did in France boosted my humanistic skills. I always wanted to be a writer .  Interior Design came later on in my life, at my 30’s, when I realised that the profits of the sale in a sofa was three times more than what I earned for an interview. I would have loved to be an actor but my sense of self-criticism would have paralysed me before the cameras.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

The best is paraphrased in my latest book: “In a world full of set-designers and Interior Architects, Andres Alsina is the last decorator “ coming from an icon of the fashion world and taste like Ines de la Fressange, it is hard to overcome that.

The worst was when they told me that my work was a front, that I was really an international escort. That being false and absurd. There are sensible stomachs for sleeping with people and mine.

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing?

Living in the most beautiful city of the planet any 500 vmts walk from my home is a trip. To walk through the Tuileries, have tea at The Ritz of the Place Vendôme, go inside the foyer of the Opera, to sit by the gardens of the Palais Royal while my food is being made two stores from me. So few people in the world have that privilege … and gather with my friends in the Cafe de L’Epoque , in the Rue Bouloi is a must

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

I arrived in this country 5 years ago. I lived a year in Versailles in the furniture depository of Louis XVI , it was an extraordinary experience. Now a days I spent my time traveling through Europe giving my consultancies in London, Amsterdam, Milano, Madrid , Barcelona etc.

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

It is hard for people to understand that I am a writer. I am stuck as a decorator and in this visual universe that takes the lead. Only a few are interested in reading me. Nevertheless it is more feasible that you can see me walking on my way to the Mazarine Library where I study and write than walking around through the decoration circuits that bore me to death.

What resource would help you in your work that you don’t have right now? That one thing that would save so much time and stress. 

A very competent team of at least 5 people and 2 traveling around the world permanently seeking for projects.

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from? 

Madeleine Castaing, David Hicks and Dorothy Draper. They invented it all in decoration, even before the word decoration existed. Nobody overcomes them because decoration as such has its days counted. The true one, the good one can’t be found anymore 

You can only follow 5 people and 5 brands on your social media forever on, who are they?

Susanna Salk from Quintessence, the only platform for truly good taste. Liam O Neill , the son of my beloved Faye Dunaway Cecilia Zuberbuhler, an argentinian fashion doyenne and journalist Ingrid Betancourt, a personal friend of mine; A free woman in all the  extension of the word. And of course my niece, my daughter Amalia Ducci As for brands, @charlesburger @judithgabarroluxuryadvisor @maisonrapin @ritzparis and @royalluxuryinterior

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly? 

History is the only main source of inspiration I need. The rest is just sooo boring to me

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

At my age life is only about saying YES or NO followed by a loud, respectful and determinate THANKS!

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Noor Charchafchi established Celine Interior Design in 2014 – a world leading and award winning luxury interior design practice designing the most exclusive portfolio of homes across the UK and globally. We had the honour of finding out what makes Noor tick and what that morning playlist looks like.

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

What morning playlist! 

My morning ‘music’ contains listening to a podcast about successful entrepreneurs and then I listen to myself reading out my daily gratitude list. 

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a mum of three and an interior designer and a wife. I love design and I love business so luckily I run a design business. I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of others and there are so many ways to do this I hope I can always contribute more and more from that perspective.  

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be a lawyer, badly, I could see it as clear as day, and then it happened and I loved every moment of it. I then moved on and having always been very creative and loving beauty wherever I could find it, I ended up running a design company I love. I feel very blessed to have had the luxury of working in two professions I love. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

Best piece of advice was never give up and honestly I don’t think I’ve ever had bad advice, everyone has a different lens to look through and a different perspective to offer and I like to listen to everything everyone has to offer because it might come in handy one day. 

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing?

Honestly I just grab my hot strong coffee a little dark chocolate and get myself going, I love design so much that I really don’t need a push I am ready all the time. 

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

I am doing exactly what I’m doing now and growing. 

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I sing, I used to sing for the English National opera and I was a backing singer for lots of well known pop bands. I am also fully Iraqi and I feel my background has been an incredible asset to my business because we deal with many Middle Eastern clients who of course know that I understand them and their homes in a way that would be difficult if I was from any other background.  

What resource would help you in your work that you don’t have right now? That one thing that would save so much time and stress. 

I think probably a CRM type technology management system that really considers Interior Designers and Design business and takes it all in. There are lots of CRM systems and programs but I haven’t used anything yet that I feel fully considers our profession or at least not in a fully adequate way. 

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from? 

I am honestly inspired by everything I see, there are so many designers who are doing wonderful things and it’s such a pleasure to watch them design and develop and grow. 

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly?

I love visiting art galleries and museums, I love the V&A museum and the Saatchi Gallery and I love visiting the British museum but I also love the shows that we have here so PAD Art Fair and Frieze but I’m also inspired when I am visiting France or Italy and all of the Middle East which is just breathtaking. 

Complete this sentence. Life is about…

….Love and growth, love everything you do and you will be inspired to grow and develop all the time. 

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This is a big call but Charlotte Stuart could quite possibly be the nicest person to work with in the world. Her charm is infectious and her projects are bursting at the seams with well refined colour, fabrics and attention to detail. Charlotte is a master when it comes to textiles and colour, no surprise – she’s presented for Colefax and Fowler, Julian Chichester, and Farrow & Ball! It was our honour to get an insight into Charlotte’s playlists and creative flow! 

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

As an interior designer every day is so varied. I can find myself on site, knee deep in mud one day, then up early the next morning to style an event and spend the afternoon presenting new collections for an interiors brand. My morning song choices can really get me in the right frame of mind for the task at hand.

As a huge Dolly Parton fan nothing gets the blood pumpin’ like “The Sacrifice”. ‘Grindstones and rhinestones have made up my life but I’ll shine like a diamond!’ This song is fun and fabulous, just like Dolly and always reminds me to go the extra mile and do my very best for my clients.

Standing up in front of an audience and presenting can be daunting so I need a song that will really energize me and help me get into performance mode. The song ‘Rocket Man’, version by Tarron Egerton (current secret crush) sums it all up in the first line “They haven’t come to see Reginald Dwight, they have come to see Elton John”. Say no more!

Lastly, ‘The Greatest Showman’. Having started my career as a costume designer before moving into the world of interiors, I learned a lot about how to put on a show. Being an interior designer definitely has similarities as my team and I work hard behind the scenes, creating imaginative and innovate schemes that will hopefully delight and surprise my clients.

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a Hampshire based interior designer who works with private homeowners and property developers across the UK. With an extensive knowledge of textiles and colour, I am also focused on the end to end practicalities of a project. Adding to this, I work as interior stylist and public speaker. I have presented new collections for brands such as Colefax and Fowler, Julian Chichester, and Farrow & Ball. With an eye for detail sharply focused on the finishing touches, I always ensure that the final design remains personal to my clients and reflects their own style and personality.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Honestly and truly, a Barbie Designer! She is a global design icon that we are still talking about today. She’s plastic, fantastic and still looking incredible at 60 years of age. Barbara Millicent Rogers never stopped believing in her doll that went on to inspire so many children around the world. She opened up opportunities to play creatively and explore the endless possibilities of design within fashion and the home. She even ran for president six times and traveled into space in 1965 proving the sky was the limit.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

I have been given lots of nuggets of wisdom over the years, however the two that always resonate with me are;

“You’re only as good as your last job” I hold myself accountable to this because reputation is everything. Despite the world of social media making opportunities more accessible than ever before, often work still comes through referrals. The power of word of mouth is so strong and it can make or break a business, so this little gem definitely helps to keep me focused.

The second piece of advice is “Leave your ego at the door”. A designer is nothing without the team behind them. Everyone plays a vital role in bringing the scheme to life and the client always comes first!

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing? Where does all that great writing come from?

I love the V&A museum and in particular, the costume department. Imogen Taylor, who worked for John Fowler at Colefax and Fowler, told me that he frequently visited the museum to study the Eighteenth dresses on display for trimming and embellishments inspiration. Another firm favourite has to be Deco Off in January. There’s something about the crisp, cold Paris air and being surrounded by the latest designs which makes my heart skip a beat. I will also be honest and say that I have the support of a great editor. If left to my own devices, I could right reams!

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

In 5 years time I hope to be in collaboration with an interiors brand, designing my own product range. In my dreams, perhaps a coffee table book full of luxurious glossy pictures showcasing my recent projects. I would also be hosting a fabulous party to celebrate all the wonderful people in the design world who have helped and worked with me throughout my design career. Jonathan Adler and I would be dancing the night away in an interior homage to Studio 54!

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I worked for Farrow & Ball as a colour consultant for 5 years. This role enabled me to read properties quickly and the experience gave me great confidence with colour. Being able to leave the clients feeling excited and inspired was always a highlight of the role for me.

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from? 

There are so many people that I admire in the design world. I swoon over Ashley Hicks and his incredible craftsmanship, furniture and bespoke Totems. Nicky Haslam’s creativity and hands on approach to all his work is inspiring. And of course, not forgetting Kit Kemp whom I admire hugely. Not only for her unique vibrant interiors but also her kindness and support to others in the design world, no matter the size of their business. 

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly? 

I am a regular at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre. Everything is at your finger tips, it’s wonderful and so are the people! Also, I’m a huge fan of Andrew Martin in Walton Street. My clients are always impressed with the quality and price point of their products. For clients wishing for something a little more exclusive or unusual, I tend to visit the interior showrooms on Pimlico Road. Or, I’ll commission one off pieces with very talented artists like Margit Wittig whose range of lighting is absolutely stunning.

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

Love, passion and grit! Work hard, create your own opportunities and remember to be patient and kind along the way. 

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Okay right off the bat, Lily Paulson-Ellis is a boss! We had the pleasure to interview the Interior Designer and all round Superwoman to find out a little more about the woman behind the name, and what that morning playlist looks like! We fell in love with Lily after seeing her Barnes Townhouse, Elm Grove Road SW13, I mean seriously… you haven’t seen it – thank us after! 

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

I tend to listen to Radio 4 in the mornings as depressing as the news is at the moment! But if I need a bit of song motivation it would be ‘Start Me Up’ by The Rolling Stones every time.

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I live in Barnes, London with my husband, 2 (soon to be 3) children and 2 labradors. I established LPE Designs in 2015 and we create homes that have comfort and practicality at their core and that stand the test of time. We enjoy getting rooms to work practically at a really detailed level. We don’t believe in imposing a signature look onto our projects and instead work closely with our clients to establish how they will live in their home, their values and their identity. Our clients are mainly private residential families who know what they like but might struggle with pulling everything together or lack the time required. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Gosh everything from a vet to a dinner lady when I was very young! But our home was destroyed by a house fire when I was 9 and my parents let me choose how my bedroom was re-decorated and that really sparked my passion for designing interiors. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

That you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. Similarly the worst advice was probably careers advice at school, which at the time was very limited to pushing everyone into law or finance. I think these days we are all much more aware that you can have a great career in such a wide range of fields.

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing? Where does all that great writing come from?

Walking my dogs! If ever I feel a bit stuck on a design problem , leaving my desk and taking the dogs to the tow path really helps clear my head and invariably helps me find the right answer.

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

I’d love to have a bigger studio and team with some international projects

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I’m just about to have my third child!

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from? 

Absolutely – there are so many fantastic Architects and Interior Designers out there and even though we may all differ in style there is much to take inspiration from in terms of detailing and finishes.

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly? 

I love Instagram & Pinterest but also bars, restaurants and even shops are a great source of inspiration when it comes to detailing

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

Family & friends

Photography Credit – Nick Smith Photography

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Okay right off the bat, Bee Osborn is a boss! We had the pleasure to interview the Interior Designer and all round Superwoman to find out a little more about the woman behind the name, and what that morning playlist looks like! We fell in love with Bee after seeing her Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, I mean seriously… you haven’t seen it – thank us after! 

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

Krask & Smaak, I’ll be Loving You

Jacob Banks, Unholy War

Claptone, No Eyes

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m an interior designer with a small, brilliant team, focussing on hotel & residential design all around the world.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A mummy to 6 children with houses all over the world…. I am a mummy to three daughters and live in a small stone 1530’s cottage and consider myself extremely lucky.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

To understand that your thoughts become things, so visualise your goals and dreams daily.

To stay within your comfort zone and not take risks.

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing? Where does all those great ideas come from?

Maison et Objet in Paris in September and January.

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

Doing more and more unique boutique hotel projects, with attention on sustainability.

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

That I find double sausage and egg McMuffins from MacDonald’s the best hangover cure.

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from?

Steven Gambrel, Veere Grenney & Vincent Van Duysen.

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly?

Travel, travel and travel.

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

Finding your passion and do it daily……

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Okay, Linda Clayton is a boss. We love her energy and passion in her writing, and her instagram bios are infectious. Seriously, we’ve made it a thing of following her posts, eagerly awaiting those bios. Linda is an Interior Journalist regularly writing for Real Homes, Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. We had the pleasure of interviewing Linda to find out a little more about the woman behind the name, and what that morning playlist looks like.

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

I can only cope with background music when I am writing so generally do old-person Spotify playlist searches like ‘laidback pop’. Boring I know, but anything that makes me want to sing along will make me lose the plot, literally, of a feature.

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I write about cushions and curtains from dawn ‘til dust. Actually it’s more like cookers and stopcocks (I specialise in kitchens and bathrooms) but you get the gist. More interestingly (for me), my husband is a cabinetmaker and we’re currently renovating our third home together, in Devon. I LOVE the design-plotting/shopping potential but HATE the physical pain of painting skirting boards until I want to stove my eyes in with the brush. 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A journalist. True story. But in my head it was the Kate Adie, serious reportage type. I tried news reporting when I left Uni, and only lasted eight months. Door-stopping a family whose 13yo son had committed suicide was the straw that broke…

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

There’s more to life than houses (from the woman who we bought this house from. I think she was trying to excuse the state of the décor but it did make me realise we need to find time to live between the relentless DIY). The worst…that I should launch a glossy interiors mag with a fellow journalist. Bankruptcy aged 26 is a major buzzkill.  

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing?

Where does all that great writing come from? I’m pretty Low Brow if I’m honest; I love RED mag, The Midult and any columnist with dry wit. Charlie Brooker has been a life-long muse.

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

Done with wallpaper stripping and sat on the beach with Nick and our two girls. Hopefully they’re not too unbearably tweeny by then.

Okay, true story, how long does it take you to write those Instagram bios?

Depends on how ranty I am feeling. If I’m on a properly narky roll, not long at all! 

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I have four piercings and a tattoo, but you will never, ever see the latter.

Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from?

If I had even half of Barbara Chandlers’ energy or work output, I’d be a happy bunny indeed. She’s remarkable.

What are your main sources of inspiration? 

I get most of “my” best interiors ideas from the interior designers I interview every day. In fact I shamelessly plug them for free design advice when I am stuck. One day I’ll be sent a bill but until then, I’m rinsing them for every last tip.

Complete this sentance… Life is about…

Being happy. It’s far easier said than done but I am increasingly discovering the joy-making power of saying NO (thanks).

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Okay right off the bat, we love Joanna Thornhill. We had the pleasure to interview the Interior Stylist/Writer/Crafter and all round Superwoman to find out a little more about the woman behind the name, and what that morning playlist looks like! We fell in love with Joanna after seeing her styling work for TK Maxx and HomeSense, I mean seriously if you have children, you need Joanna to style their bedrooms and parties! 

Laurence King Publishing

Okay, lay it on us, 3 songs your morning playlist must contain.

Boring, but I find music pretty distracting when I work so I tend to opt for classical/instrumental stuff just to fill the silence – recent listens have been This is Antonio Pinto, Apollo by Brian Eno and (bizarrely), the Diego Maradona motion picture soundtrack. I tend to just set them off on Spotify and listen to whatever else it offers up next

Photographer Mel Yates Stylist Joanna Thornhill

Okay, now pleasantries: tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m self employed as a commercial interiors stylist, writer and author, which means no two days are ever the same! Predominantly my work involves either producing and styling photoshoots for brands (usually for for their catalogue, website or social media/for editorial use), or for magazines themselves, as well as writing things like trend reports, articles and shopping pages, again for both magazines and corporate brands. I also work on designing and styling events, again usually for brands, to showcase new product ranges or launches for press, bloggers and influencers. 

Alongside this I’ve styled and written a couple of books: the first, Home for Now (CICO Books), was aimed at offering affordable, realistic and temporary decorating ideas to renters or cash-strapped first-time buyers starting their journey up the property ladder, which was republished in 2018 with a new title, Insta-Style for your Living Space. Then in Spring 2019, my latest book, My Bedroom is an Office (Laurence King) launched, offering a unique, dip-in Q&A approach to a myriad interiors dilemmas, from how to decorate a north-facing room to what to do when your walls are too crumbly to put up shelves (joannathornhill.co.uk/books

Photographer Rita Platts Stylist Joanna Thornhill

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Either a journalist or a fashion designer, so I’ve kind of achieved the first goal! I studied Fashion Design at uni but then realised my interest was more in the promotional side of the industry and of branding/image-making, so I switched to a degree in Fashion Promotion. But I THEN realised that actually, my interest was SPECIFICALLY more in the backgrounds to the clothes rather than the clothes themselves, so after uni I went to work as a runner in TV before moving into more art department-based roles, and then eventually started assisting other stylists and working ad-hoc in various magazine offices as an assistant, and it all took off from there!

Photographer Graham Commons Stylist Joanna Thornhill

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? and the worst?

I think generally speaking the best advice I’ve been given is to know your worth – when you quote a potential client for a job, you’re not just charging for your time and costs, you’re charging for all the years of skills, experience and expertise you’re bringing to the table on TOP of your time and costs for that particular job. When you’re good, your work can make a huge positive impact on the brand who are employing you, so all of this needs to be taken into account. I can’t really think of any ‘bad’ advice per se but one thing I’ve learned along the way is, despite what clients may have promised to do or said they wanted, to always have alternatives and back-up plans in place so you can react quickly to any unforeseen requests or changes to the original brief!

Photographer Jake Curtis Stylist Joanna Thornhill

What is your favourite creative outlet to get the juices flowing?

Sometimes I think the best thing is to just step away somewhat and just go for a walk somewhere inspiring, or go to an art gallery, or even just wander round a pretty town you’ve not visited before. I love visiting interiors trade and press shows but sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming, whereas a calm walk somewhere can give you that clarity to notice a gorgeous colour combination or provide the headspace to allow new ideas to pop up

Jump in the Tardis and fast forward 5 years – where are you and what are you up to?

I’m not very good at planning ahead but I’d like to still be working in the industry, doing more of the same yet expanding on where I’m at now. I’d love to write another book and possibly do more collaborative work with brands – perhaps cross-platform. Things move so quickly it’s important to keep on your toes and diversify or adapt to suit changes. The mainstream magazine industry has undeniably suffered during the growth of blogs and social media, yet people still yearn for tangible printed materials, so it’ll be interesting to see how things evolve

Stylist Joanna Thornhill

What advice would you give to emerging go getters who want to follow in your footsteps?

It can be a really tough industry to get into and you need to be prepared to work hard and make sacrifices, but if you’ve got a creative flair, a lot of common sense and are willing to graft, it’s certainly do-able. The majority of work is in London, where stylists and magazine staff seek out freelance styling assistants for help on shoots or research (often at very short notice and for odd days here and there), so most assistants make it work by mixing assisting with other flexible revenue streams, from selling handmade jewellery to bar work and office temping, to allow them to jump onto assisting opportunities at the last minute. If realistically you don’t think that lifestyle is for you, maybe consider starting an interiors blog instead, to immerse yourself in the industry a little more and possibly open up more opportunities that way which are easier to fit in around other jobs or commitments

Any up-coming trends? Don’t worry, we won’t tell a soul…

Wellness and sustainability are such hot topics right now and this is feeding into interiors through the use of natural materials (and decorating with colours inspired by nature), the never-ending trend for biophilia and incorporating plants into the home, and in details such as candles made with essential oils to encourage relaxation or creativity. Conversely, bold, maximal interiors are set to be big this Autumn/Winter, with lots of rich colours, oversized floral patterns and luxe fabrics like velvet to add warmth and vibrancy – though this trend also incorporates vintage pieces and ‘brown’ furniture, so has a sustainability angle in its own way

Laurence King Publishing

What’s one thing other people may not know about you?

I’m a bit of a dog geek and since consecutively adopting two ex-street dogs from Romania, I’ve become fascinated by canine psychology and behavioural rehabilitation through positive reinforcement training techniques. Sometimes I have moments where I wonder if I should change career and retrain as a behaviourist, but then I remember that I don’t really like going out if it’s too cold (or too hot, or raining, or overly muddy) so swiftly come to the conclusion I’m best off sticking with a career in cushions…

Laurence King Publishing

Who or what are some of your influences? Are there any peers or creatives that you admire or draw inspiration from?

I don’t really have any go-to influences as I prefer to see what piques my interest naturally, but it’s always interesting and helpful to look back over design history – I’m a big William Morris fan and have several of his fabric designs throughout my house but I also like the work of the Bloomsbury Group, Bauhaus, fusty Victoriana, Mid Century Modern…

Laurence King Publishing

What are your main sources of inspiration? Are there any outlets you reference regularly? 

Depending on what I’m working on, I generally spend a fair bit of time searching for trends and seeing what people are up to via Pinterest and Instagram as well as by reading design websites such as Dezeen, and the weekend newspaper supplements are always a good way of seeing curated trend round-ups and product launches, as they can react far quicker than the monthly titles

Complete this sentence… Life is about…

…if I knew the answer to that I’d probably be making my millions elsewhere as a self-help guru!

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With over 10 years experience in Interior Design, Rebecca Jansma Principle of Space Grace and Style (SGS) is known for effortlessly combining crisp, clean architecture with thoughtful, detailed and tightly resolved interior solutions. We’ve been following her work for a while and have had the honour to interview her, getting an insight into her creative process, SGS studio and pro tips for interior design students.

What is the first thing you do after receiving the brief for a new design project?

The first point for us is to start by examining the spatial planning, along with materials. The two go hand in hand for us, and often one informs the other. There must be a junction of form and function – the basis of all design.

What key pieces of advice were you given at the start of your career?

This is my third career (I know!!) and I’m like a rock that’s gathered lots of lovely moss… I have learnings from the scientific field as well as management and they have all been invaluable in this line of work. Design is a dark combination of science and art; a place where the left and right sides of the brain collide. My most favourite piece of advice was – make sure you have a back up plan as you’ll never make a living from design! I’m so bloody-minded and persistent that I henceforth set out to prove that person wrong! To this day there is no back up plan…

What is your most favourite part of Interior Design? And most disliked?

My favourite part of the design process is when a client signs off on the final design. Given that the development can take months of work, this is always a joyful moment – for the client as much as us I’m certain. It represents the culmination of so much thought, consideration and discussion in the studio – no detail is overlooked, and the midnight awakenings with design solutions all seem worthwhile after that. We want happy clients who are going to love their spaces for many, many years. The most disliked aspect is discussions over money and budget. Most often there IS a budget, and sometimes the budget doesn’t align with the vision or the client’s expectation. So that’s a very important aspect of what we do – ensuring the expectations are realistic moving forward with the design process and managing the outcomes so that us as designers; the trades and also the client are all satisfied with the outcome.

Where is your favourite place to stay and what do you do there?

My favourite place to stay is Cradle Mountain Lodge in Tasmania’s wilderness. I love the untamed nature on the West Coast of Tasmania and visit at least once every couple of years. I’ve travelled all over the world and wild places are my favourite. At Cradle Mountain Lodge you find the perfect combination of beautiful architecture, great food and wine and bushwalking through some iconic World Heritage listed landscapes.

How do you find products to use in your work? Do you have a favourite magazine / social platform you use? How about your favourite website?

We have our favourite suppliers of course but are always uncovering new products and Australia is a hot bed of great innovative design. I mainly read two design magazines – World of Interiors, and Architectural Digest. Occasionally I’ll dip into others, but the opulence and diversity of both the publications cover most of my design crushes. I love Instagram for quick fixes of beauty, and hope it doesn’t change too much as it evolves. The other guilty obsession is 1stdibs… I can spend hours dreaming and scheming from that website.

What inspires your interior design process?

Often the client inspires the design; or even a piece of art, a rug or story. It’s important for a space to have relevance to the client, so we do try to make it personal. I think as a designer you pick up a lot of non-verbal cues as part of the consultation process and these undoubtedly inform the final design – much of it is subconscious. I’m always inspired by nature and her combinations of colour and material… I couldn’t imagine a more generous muse.

What are people living with now or wanting in their home that wasn’t around five years ago? How are your clients’ lifestyles evolving and how are you serving that?

There is an increasing sense of nurturing within our own homes, and a sense that your home is your haven. People are increasingly time poor, and I feel that a reaction to that is to create a mini escape in your own home. In that sense we have seen a rise in the more spa-like bathrooms – rooms that are more decorative than before, and layered with luxury, from the use of beautiful stones, tiles and mosaics to even installing beautiful floaty linen sheers in a bathroom for 100% relaxation whilst bathing. 

What advice do you have for Interior Design students reading this interview?

My advice is to figure out your specific flair. We all have an area that really resonates, and your work will always feel easier in that field. Work to your strengths and create a niche area of expertise. Be tenacious and a perfectionist. There is no room for average design.

What are you most proud of so far?

I’m very proud of my longevity in this business. It’s competitive, but it’s also a profession where you improve with experience. We have recently completed a full renovation of a magnificent Victorian home in East Melbourne. The scope of work was vast, and no surface was left untouched. The results are beautiful; the clients are delighted and so are we!

So, what’s next?

More of the same… Every new project is full of possibility and we are constantly sourcing new product and material to add to our library for incorporation into the next project.

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Valentina Piscopo is an Italian designer and stylist based in Dubai. Winner of the 2019 Inside Out Arabia Magazine Home of the Year, she has been turning heads with her clean and calm aesthetics – meeting the needs of individuals for their coastal residences in Dubai. Today, we had the honour to speak with Valentina and hear about her story and get an insight into the creative process behind her designs.  

So Valentina, how did you overcome the initial challenges of establishing yourself as a designer and stylist ? 

I have worked in the art and design industry for four years so by the time I started freelancing I was confident with my network. I invested in decorating my home as professionally as possible within my limited budget and then hired a fantastic photographer to take photos – that was the beginning of my portfolio. Lastly, I had to become social media savvy, and quick! It is time consuming I am not going to lie – but it pays off and it’s the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to build a brand. 

What is the first thing you do after receiving the brief for a new design project? 

Create a moodboard, I get a lot of inspiration from magazines, window displays and Pinterest. I like homes that are cohesive, so an overall mood, style and colour palette for the whole space needs to be considered before tackling each room one by one. 

What are your most favourite projects to work on? 

Residential homes that have existing jaw dropping architectural details and are preferably by the sea. My favourite aesthetic is definitely light and fresh inspired by holiday homes in Byron Bay, South Africa and Venice Beach. I like uncluttered – magazine worthy spaces so I do take a minimal yet warm approach to furniture and accessories which lends itself so well when the shell of the room has a lot of built in character on its own. 

How do you find products to use in your work? Do you have a favourite magazine / social platform you use? How about your favourite website? 

I first visit my favourite stores in the city, which thankfully even here in Dubai have recently launched online platforms – this makes it so much easier for us designers to grab product cut outs for our moodboards. I also use Instagram a lot and try to visit furniture shows every year such as il Salone del Mobile in Milan. 

If you had a time machine, what era of design would you go back to? 

I would definitely stay in the now, I am excited about the contemporary era of design. However there are some elements of the 70’s which I have been looking to for inspiration such as the use of cane, indoor plants and open plan living. Being a trained Art Historian I am also a big fan of introducing classic designs and art to contemporary spaces. For example, I am a big fan of mid-century designs such as the ones of Hans Wegner. 

What are you most proud of so far? 

Seeing my own home on the cover of Inside Out Arabia magazine was a dream come true. My mother was a keen amateur interior designer and our family homes were often featured in Architectural Digest in Italy, but I never thought I would be able to follow in her footsteps and snatch a cover feature at the age of 28. That, I am very proud of! Especially since my home is a rental and therefore comes with certain limitations.

What is your most favourite part of being an Interior Designer? And most disliked? 

It allows me to apply art and imagination, exercise my inborn creativity, I also love that there is a huge inspiring female community of designers in my city. It is really empowering. My least favourite part is regulations, anthropometrics and paper work in general… any task that is not creative I find I use double the effort to complete it. That’s just how my brain is wired! 

What advice do you have for young Designers and Architects reading this interview? 

For those who have studied interior design or architecture I recommend working under an established firm for 2-3 years. It is completely eye opening to understand how the business operates, it will be tough but also vital to understand if it’s the career you are truly passionate about. If you are not qualified I am testament to the fact that you can change career – I have personally re-trained with an online diploma from the New York University of Art + Design. And lastly, research local competitions or awards you can enter yourself or your firm in, if you get shortlisted or even win it, it will help to increase your following, receive free press and make yourself known to the public.

So, what’s next?

I am having a lot of fun assisting with the creative direction and operations of a new company called Fronteriors, a furniture hacking venture launching soon in Dubai. We are busy designing the collection and I am loving getting my hands dirty with complex product design. I am also working on launching my own e-design platform that will enable clients and designers to collaborate in a much more quick, affordable and efficient way. Stay tuned for the launch and in the meantime you can follow my journey @kukydesign

Photo credits Natelee Cocks

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Tracy Daoud is Designer and Founder of award winning design firm Interior Designs by Tracy. Based in Montreal, Canada, Interior Designs by Tracy work across both residential and commercial sectors. From a childhood of watching home improvement shows on HGTV to becoming a prestigious Interior Designer, Tracy talks us through her challenges of establishing the studio, her creative process and her favourite part of Interior Design.

So Tracy, how did you overcome the initial challenges of establishing the studio?

There are so many challenges to overcome once you start the business. I would say that over the years having gained experience in the industry helped me a lot, building a solid network foundation helped me kick start my business. 

What is the first thing you do after receiving the brief for a new design project?

Most crucial thing is knowing and understanding your client. I would never start the job if I feel like I haven’t understood exactly what my client truly desires. It requires a lot of ongoing communication and receiving a lot of inspirational pictures in order to determine my clients taste and create their dream space. 

What are you most favourite projects to work on? 

I have so many! But to narrow it down, I would say #gascogneproject. I really enjoyed working on that space because sky was the limit and I was able to put my creative cap on and design such an original house. (Photos Below)

What would you say the morning bathroom routine in Montreal? And how does this affect your design?

Keeping a routine is very essential for my well being and it is known to improve a person’s overall health and establish great time management. My morning routine consists of brushing my teeth before anything that means even before making a conversation! I then wash my face with Kiel’s face wash & gently massage it with a jade roller and apply moisturiser right after. As much as I would love to have more time in the bathroom, let’s face it working/mommy duties calls! Having counter space is a must in all my bathroom designs.

How do you find products to use in your work? Do you have a favourite magazine / social platform you use? How about your favourite website?

Favourite website would be Wayfair I am truly obsessed because there are millions of suppliers I get to work with. I believe that e-commerce is always the way to go, I love working with suppliers all over the world, just reminds me of how technology has evolved tremendously and things are as easy as a click of a button! Social platform would definitely be instagram, I have built a great set of audience who refer me plenty of clients 

If you had a time machine, what era of design would you go back to?

That’s a tough one! I would say during the Pop Art Era, if you scroll down my designs you see how I love incorporating pops of colour!

What are you most proud of so far?

I am proud of my constant determination, I am always seeking to learn more and be the best version of myself. 

What is your most favourite part of Interior Design? And most disliked?

My favourite part is being able to see my client’s reaction when the space has been completed! The thing I most dislike would be taking on site measurements; it takes up a lot of time! Wish they came up with a faster solution for precise dimensions. 

What advice do you have for young Designers and Architects reading this interview?

Don’t be afraid to pick other designers brains, get yourself a mentor! Try to go to as many networking events as you can!

So, what’s next?

Working on a lot of new office spaces this year, we are leaning more and more towards commercial spaces, which is very challenging and rewarding. 

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Emma Kelly and Francesca Albertazzi are Co-Founders of award nominated design firm Rudy Winston Design, based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Rudy Winston Design has been turning heads with its designs – meeting the needs of individuals by creating personalised spaces for their residential clients in Vancouver. Today, we had the honour to speak with Emma and Francesca hearing about their story, getting an insight into their creative process at Rudy Winston Design. 

P.S Francesca’s lovely dog is also named Rudy!

So Emma, Francesca, how did you overcome the initial challenges of establishing the studio? 

We were very fortunate to have a fairly easy transition into founding and running our own business. We had worked together for four years on a reality television show about design and renovations and had worked intensely on almost 100 projects together. Francesca has worked in the design world for most of her adult life and Emma has been in management and client-relations, transitioning to our own design firm in the real world was a natural next step. 

What is the first thing you do after receiving the brief for a new design project? 

Our first step in every project is a consultation with a prospective client. We walk through their home with them and ask questions about what they would like to see in a renovation, focusing on how they use their space, and what doesn’t function for them and their family. Often clients can identify a problem or an issue in their space that doesn’t work for their lifestyle, and as the designer, Francesca provides a solution to those problems as well as making it look good! 

Have you always wanted to design a certain building, but not yet had the chance? 

We would love to work on a commercial project, a boutique hotel or restaurant where the potential to push the whimsical and eclectic design is more often possible. 

What would you say the morning bathroom routine in Vancouver is? 

And how does this affect your design? As with anywhere in the world, it is personal and completely depends on the client. For some clients, it is a family of four sharing one bathroom to get ready every morning so making the space functional for multiple people is key – which can mean having two sinks, or given the space can be putting the WC behind a closed door within the bathroom. Some women use the bathroom for putting on makeup, so the lighting decisions are influenced by this, other women do makeup at a vanity table in their bedroom. The most important step is understanding how your client uses their space, or how they would want to use their space. 

How do you find products to use in your work? Do you have a favourite magazine / social platform you use? How about your favourite website? 

We have great relationships with regular suppliers that we work with here in Vancouver and they often keep us updated on new lines and new products. As for magazines and website, Francesca often looks to European magazines to see where the direction of design is heading as it often starts in Europe before it comes to North America. Most of her inspiration comes from her travels to Italy and the UK, which she does almost yearly. 

What on-going projects do you have at the moment? What sort of challenges do they have? 

We currently have 3 projects with bathrooms at the moment – an ensuite, a family bathroom and a powder room. Each project has its own constraints – whether it be budget or timeline (or both!) but currently all three of these projects are going well and we are enjoying them. A powder room is always a fun project as you can push the design elements a bit further than an everyday bathroom – we love to use wallpaper in powder rooms! 

What are you most proud of so far? 

Our own personal renovation projects were big milestones for each of us individually. That they were both featured in magazines in the same month (June 2019) was a really proud moment for Rudy Winston Design. Francesca’s especially as it was selected for the cover of House & Home magazine. 

What is your most favourite part of Architecture and Interior Design? And most disliked? 

We are firm believers in architecture and interior design existing as a unified element. We enjoy working with architects from the start of a project, as their thinking will influence the final design of a space and vice versa. Creating a home or space that is in harmony with its setting and with its inhabitants is probably Francesca’s favourite aspect of Interior Design. Our least favourite part of Interior and Architectural Design is the waste that is created. We try to limit the waste that is generated, recycling as much as possible and working with suppliers that recycle as well but renovating is an unfortunately waste-generating industry, which is all the more reason to strive for a design that will last (rather than being trendy), using materials that will last (rather than cheap and fall-apart-after-one-month products) and shape spaces that resonate with people so that they will love them for years to come. 

What advice do you have for young Designers reading this interview? 

There are so many designers out there and there is room for everyone! Be true to the design elements and styles that interest you and show that in your work. Not every potential client is going to be a fit for you, and that is okay. Get to know your clients and make the design of their home personal to them. 

So, what’s next? 

We keep calm and carry on! We have multiple projects on the go right now, and more personal milestones coming up as well. Francesca looks forward to spending more time in Italy in 2020 which continues to inspire her design with each trip, and Emma looks forward to getting married in 2020! 

Janis Nicolay Photography Credit

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Jodie Cooper is the founder of Jodie Cooper Design and luxury vacation home 353 Degree North based in Indonesia. We have loved following Jodie on her journey for a while and without a doubt this Australian Interior Designer has a wealth of life experience. Currently in a small remote village on the Island of Sumba, Jodie is learning about the Ikat weaving process and unique history and culture of this Indonesian island. We had the honour to speak with Jodie and get an insight into her story – we were not disappointed! 

So Jodie, Sumba? How did you end up on a small remote Indonesian Island?

My love of design and my partners love of surfing led to a motorbike adventure across three islands. Remote and unspoilt the island of Sumba is as exotic and unique as the beautiful ikats it weaves.  The people live a very simple existence and yet they produce beautifully woven ikats. The Intricate and labour intensive Sumba warp ikat cloth is created in many steps, often by different artists in the village. Quality cloth is made from cotton, tied with palm leaves to make the pattern of motifs and symbols unique to the Kingdom of East Sumba, dyed with natural dyes and hand woven these beautiful pieces tell their stories and one piece can take up to a year to produce  Spending time in remote villages amongst true artisans is the most rewarding and humbling experience.

What is the first thing you do after receiving the brief for a new design project?

I let my imagination run wild, then work at how to translate it!

How do your travels and experience influence your design? 

For me Design is a fusion of all of the senses- Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch. To create a space that delivers and delights all of these senses is the true essence of design.Travel opens opportunity to experience all of these, you have a heightened sense of awareness,  the true beauty and the richness of architecture, history, culture and colour. Sensual Inspiration and images that fill the pages of your internal library.

What would you say the morning bathroom routine is in Australia? And how does this affect your design?

Australian bathrooms are becoming one of the most innovative and well planned zones of the house. The majority of houses are new builds which opens the possibilities even more.The Master bedroom Ensuite bathroom often incorporate a Free standing bath,  a vanity unit with two basins, a large shower and a separate toilet. A great deal of thought is going into the cabinetry, design, spatial planning, finishes and access to natural light The are often partially open to the bedroom so viewed as an extension of the room.I think that the bathroom has become a sanctuary to escape from the day, rather than the hectic morning rush that leaves no time to enjoy it.

How do you find products to use in your work? Do you have a favourite magazine / social platform you use? How about your favourite website?

I am a instagram and pinterest addict… I love that we are once again embracing the more natural organic finishes, to me they have more integrity and enhance the aesthetic as well as the tactile experience.You can find amazing products online, and actually find a supplier in your country….. the world has certainly changed with the ability to access items that you could previously only dream of incorporating into your design.

What have your most experience filled travels been? How have these changed you?

I have learnt so much from interacting with the artists and the people of the villages, if you are interested, they are very happy to share their stories. Morocco, Everything about morocco is amazing, exotic riads, crazy  Bazaars and beautiful people. The Silk Road – Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan so much to inspire, beautiful embroidered Suzanis the history and incredible architecture  Italy –  the sheer beauty of tuscany, the history and architecture of Rome, the fishing villages and of course the food. Sumba has definitely captured my heart and i will be going back.

What are you most proud of so far?

That I have made it this Far? I am proud of every project I undertake, a lot of hard work and organisation behind the scenes makes the process look effortless to the client, and that is exactly how it should be.I approach every project with the same enthusiasm and desire to create an amazing result for my clients so I am most proud when my work is appreciated by my clients.

Tell us about your luxury vacation home 353 Degree North based in Indonesia? Where did the name come from?

I wanted to create a home that honoured the unique environment, I did not want to clutter the space with furniture, to not be regimented, so anyone who visited would feel they had left the traditional constraints of the world behind,… an experience, and not just a destination.

 Where did the name come from?

It was not easy, I wanted a name that was as unique as the location. I was able to stand on the concrete pad in the centre of the property 12 months after the initial design had been finalised,The views face North and I wanted orientate myself, so I consulted the compass on my phone “353 Degrees North”  unique, strong , recognisable and references the villas position. So it is really kind of obvious when explained.

If you had a time machine, what period of design would you go back to?

To the time you could bathe in clean rivers and not catch diseases.

What advice do you have for young Designers and Architects reading this interview?

Don’t be Ordinary when you can be Extraordinary.The client needs to feel comfortable with you and trust you, after all this is the biggest single acquisition in their life, but they are also open to exploring what is possible, take them out of their comfort zone but always make it comfortable.You will be amazed how often they will come back to that wonderful crazy design idea, they just need a little time to realise the value you are bringing to their project. Passion and imagination can move mountains, and minds.

So, what’s next?

Not sure, but definitely more adventures before dentures.

353 Degrees North Images – Agus Darmika Photography

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Mona Ross Berman Interiors is a full-service interior design firm engaged in projects all along the Eastern seaboard. We’ve followed her work for a while and have loved everything about it. Mona has progressed in the industry from her first role as an assistant in one of Washington, D.C.’s well-established firms to establishing Mona Ross Berman Interiors in 2004. Today we have the luxury of interviewing Mona, getting an insight into her creative process and tips for young interior designers trying to be successful in the industry. 

So Mona, tell us how did you go from an assistant to opening your own firm? Was coffee a good friend? 

In all honesty, I always knew I wanted to open my own firm, but other than that there was no grand plan. The designer I was working for was winding down his business and I had a bunch of friends, and friends of friends, who wanted to hire me. So it all ended up happening somewhat by default. And it also started slowly. I had business from day one but by no means was I an overnight sensation. It definitely took a lot of years of hard work and persistence. 

How do you begin the design process with a new client? What kind of questions do you like to ask? 

Each of my projects is extremely tailored to each client, so I spend a lot of time at the front end of a project drilling down on how they live, what their goals are, and trying to get a sense of what they want and like. I try to emphasize to them that the one thing I cannot provide on my own is insight into how they live. So, I ask them things like “do they like to entertain?” If so, how many people? Do they have big dinner parties or are they more likely to just have a few friends over. And I also try to gage how concerned they are about durability and imperfections. Some clients want their homes to look pristine 100% of the time and hence we need select materials that allow for that while others like more patina and natural beauty which gives us more leeway when it comes to what we can use. 

If you had a time machine, what period of design would you like to live in?

Great question! Late 1960’s I think. I love so much of the design from that general era. I love the glamour of the Kennedy Administration but also the futuristic vibe that became so popular. Lately I’m obsessed with all things Pierre Paulin who seems to epitomize so much that was right about that period.

Do you source the products to use in your interior projects yourself? How do you find them?

Yes. I’d say I am responsible for selecting 90% of what gets used in our projects. I cast a super wide net when sourcing. I like pieces to come from as many places as possible to help the end result look layered and unique. I find pieces all over — trade shows like ICFF in NYC, showrooms, traveling and visiting small shops, and of course the internet. I must google search ideas 10 times a day. 

Do you have a favourite magazine / social platform you use? How about your favourite interior design website / blog?

I really love the New York Times T Magazine. They find such innovative and provocative projects to highlight. Surface Magazine is also very fun to look through. I try to keep evolving and growing as a designer so I seek out places that are not showing what everyone else is showing.  I also love Instagram and have come to rely upon it for inspiration and ideas. I don’t look at blogs much – there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

What is your favourite place to design? and why?

Summer homes! Clients generally feel more free to go outside the box. They don’t take themselves as seriously as they might in their main house. And the materials, colours, patterns, and details are all fun with which to work.  And they are happy places to go and be generally, so there is just a good feeling about working on them.

What are you most proud of so far?

Professionally, I’m proud of what I’ve built pretty much on my own and from the ground up. It’s just very gratifying to know that I created a successful business and that my work has been so well received by both my clients as well as the shelter press. This past January, a project of mine was featured in AD Online which was thrilling and definitely felt like a milestone accomplishment for me and my firm.

What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?

Working in residential design is very much a client-services-forward business. By that I mean, interactions with your clients will be extremely important to the overall success of what you do. The creative driven part of design and architecture of course are also vital, but having good, honest, trust-based relationships with clients is paramount. Also, look for opportunities to network and share information. I find that a lot of others in these professions don’t want to share resources and ideas. I think that really stunts your own growth and potential. The exchange of knowledge and expertise can be a very valuable tool as well as give more meaning to your work. 

So, what’s next?

I have a lot of large projects just getting off the ground, including a renovation of a house on Nantucket Island and a gut renovation of a  property clients purchased behind their existing house and plan to turn into a carriage house. My goal, as always, is to keep growing, evolving, and taking on interesting and challenging work for appreciative and fun clients. 

All images used credited to Richard Powers Photography.

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