Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My latest interior design project

In my most recent interior design project, I was in a consulting role. It was a bit less hands-on and was, instead, more collaborative. I got involved at the end of an extensive home renovation. My client told me what his style was and I gave him a list of retailers to look at. He came back to me with several items he had selected and I helped him narrow down his choices. The result is a pleasing living room, dining room and entryway that suits the needs of his young family.

I enjoyed working with my client in this capacity and would recommend my design consulting service to anyone who wants to work with me but doesn't have the budget for full-service interior design. Interested? Contact me here.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Design Chicago 2016

I haven't been to Design Chicago in a very long time. This year's event lasted two days and was very informative. I also had a chance to meet a lot of fellow interior designers from Chicago and other parts of the Midwest. Like NeoCon, it was held at the Merchandise Mart, though what sets it apart is the focus on residential design.

Here are some things that caught my eye. (I didn't bring my good camera with me, so please forgive the quality of my photos.)


Here's a sample of the Missoni Home fabrics that Stark Carpets carries. I would love to do a project incorporating these out-of-this-world textiles.


I may have mentioned Sossego before. They're new to the Mart, originally from Brazil. I saw their showroom for the first time during NeoCon this summer. Their focus on sustainability is what intrigues me about their product line. The hanging bas relief sculptures and glass topped coffee table above are both the work of Brazilian artist Domingos Tótora. He uses recycled cardboard like me! We had a chance to meet him virtually via a Skype session in the showroom.

Pictures from Design Chicago 2016 at the Merchandise Mart. Blogged at
Pictures from Design Chicago 2016 at the Merchandise Mart. Blogged at

The seating above is from Janus et Cie and I love it.

Pictures from Design Chicago 2016 at the Merchandise Mart. Blogged at

This striking leather chair is from Jean de Merry.

Pictures from Design Chicago 2016 at the Merchandise Mart. Blogged at

And this funky faux fur chair is from CAI Designs.

Here are some more products I liked but didn't photograph so I had to download photos instead:

The Rainbows wallpaper from Omexco is in the Romo showroom and is made from recycled sari fabric.

GP&J Baker's lovely Mulberry Home fabric is carried by Brunschwig & Fils.

More colorful fabric from Stark, this time by Alhambra.

Jane Churchill (top) and Manuel Canovas (bottom) from Cowtan & Tout.

Fabric from Clarence House, whose colorful logo inspired mine.

But the event was more than just a chance to indulge in eye candy (and delicious showroom hors d'oeuvres and sweets). It was also very informative. There were seminars about many different aspects of the design business. There were many opportunities to meet the talented people behind the products sold at the mart. I enjoyed the presentation in the Bradley showroom where the wallpaper and textile designers talked about their process and how they got into the business. Some had a fine arts background while others were in fashion design. Here are some of their designs that I found particularly appealing.

Flat Vernacular
Brett Design

It was very inspiring to see fellow Harrington grads Laurie Demetrio, Steve Somogyi, and Filip Malyszko receive this year's Ones to Watch awards. They also participated in a panel discussion that gave a lot of insight into how they started. I was also inspired by a panel discussion that featured design superstars Joey Leicht, Julia Buckingham, Lauren Coburn, and Sara Whit. Each one had a different career trajectory, proving that every designer's origin story is unique. There were also different opinions on how best to start a design project. Apparently there are two kinds of designers: those who start with selecting a rug and those who save that for last. (I prefer starting with a rug, myself.) Also, Joey Leicht had a chance to design sets for the tv show Empire

Speaking of design in the media, another really informative (but very packed) seminar I went to was about how to get your work published in shelter magazines. I learned that it helps to have pictures with a special story to tell and the space shouldn't be so over-designed that the homeowners' personality doesn't show. Just like with book publishing, it's a long process. Also, just as in other areas of publishing, when you pitch it should be tailored to that specific publication. No use sending an ultra-modern project to a magazine that features traditional spaces. And occasionally designers get discovered through their websites.

The presentation on how art enhances a space was interesting to attend as an artist. It gave me some ideas about how to sell my work to my fellow designers and how to specify art for clients. It reinforced what I already knew, that it's hard and very personal. People need to feel moved by art in order to buy it and every artist isn't for everyone, and that's okay. The best thing about the session was getting a free VIP pass to the SOFA Expo next month, which I will definitely use. My only disappointment was that despite the emphasis on buying original work and not reproductions, no one on the panel mentioned the option of buying work from living artists who may not yet represented by a gallery with a big name.

During the design superstars panel, Julia Buckingham said, "we are home psychologists," which echoed the sentiments of Paula Grace Halewski in her dynamic presentation about client relationships. She drew from her extensive background in psychology and various client experiences to talk about the mindset and emotional baggage that drives difficult client behavior and how to cope with it, red flags to look for, and when to walk away. She made an important statement about it that can apply to all bad relationships, including those with clients: don't see it as failure, but as emancipation. She emphasized the importance of setting boundaries (because it's a professional relationship, not a friendship) and having written agreements. I learned so much from her.

I also learned a lot from my fellow designers, from what to charge to how to get clients to tell you what their budget is. I'm really looking forward to going back next year, and bringing my good camera so I can take better pictures like I do at NeoCon.

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