Designer : design elements

9
Apr

Interview with Alexander Warren-Gash

categories Designer, Interviews    

“For me, success equates directly with levels of happiness. I get the most pleasure from spending time with my family and travelling, but the levels of happiness are that much greater if I feel like I deserve it. This comes through working hard, being a good person and a belief that I am giving my best at all times.”

Alexander Warren-Gash of Mashamba Garden Design

Timeless Mediterranean landscapes. A fascinating mix of long-lasting blooms, textures and vibrant hues. Simple yet rich… It’s hard to tell where nature ends and the garden design begins. Summed up in one sentence: Landscape architecture has never been so beautiful as in the work of the Mallorca based studio Mashamba Garden Design. Some days ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexander Warren-Gash – landscape designer and Mashamba‘s founder, – speaking about success, daily routine and absolutely epic landscapes. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. Stay healthy & happy Easter!

What does a happy day in the life of Alexander Warren-Gash look like?

As much as I enjoy my work, my happiest days usually coincide with weekends or holidays. Early morning is my favourite time of day as the light is beautiful and everything is very peaceful. I really enjoy adventure, so a day trip out with the family to a remote beach or a hike in the mountains, followed by a bbq at home in the garden with some friends and a bottle or two of wine. That constitutes my perfect day!


Do you have a daily routine?

One of the beauties of being self employed is that you don’t have to stick to the rigors of a routine. A cup of tea and the news in the morning and dinner with the family in the evening are set, but everything in between is on a day by day basis. Self discipline is extremely important and there are often times when I work 70 hour weeks for months on end, but equally, when the work load is lighter, as it often is during the summer months, I know how to settle back and relax.

When did you first discover your love of landscape architecture?

I have always loved nature and gardening, and I have always been very creative. However, it wasn’t until I was around 32 that I put 2 and 2 together and realized that I could combine the two elements and chase the dream.


What landscapes move you most?

I love gardens, but I get the most thrills from dramatic natural landscapes. Mallorca is not short of these with the beautiful calas, rocky coastline and rugged mountains, but in terms of absolutely epic landscapes, I think it is hard to beat Namibia.

Is there one bodily sense – as in touch, sight or hearing – that is most powerful in experiencing a place?

Tough question, as it is generally the all round sense combination that creates the magic. The sound of the birds singing and bees buzzing. The smells of orange blossom, lavender, jasmine. A mint tea made from freshly picked mint……


How does your home garden look like?

We have just bought a property that we are still in the process of doing up. Builders, whilst great at building, are also notorious for destroying gardens and as such we are waiting until they are finished before we do the garden properly. The goal though is to create a relatively low maintenance gravel garden, with pathways linking various seating/chillout areas that we know that we will enjoy through the seasons. That said, we have taken advantage of the lockdown to put together, as a family, a great vegetable and herb garden.

What do you suggest people to transform a small garden?

Gardens are generally the most undervalued but potentially most important part of any property. A nice garden will bring you lots of pleasure and does not necessarily have to cost lots of money. Work out where that sunny spot is in winter and the shade in summer and you are already a good ways towards structuring your space.


If you had no limits, what would be your dream project?

My absolute dream would be to create a self sustainable finca in a remote location abutting a national park in a place like Costa Rica, where all water, electricity and food would be generated  and grown on site, whilst the majority of the land would be left as a wildlife haven.

What do you love to do when you are not designing landscapes?

I love traveling and exploring, surfing and fishing, photography and most importantly, doing these things with my friends and family.


What are your favourite books?

I think that it is important to balance your reading out. My library is a complete mish mash of literary classics, airport thrillers, history, fictional novels, coffee table books and reference guides. One of my favourites though is the early works of Louis de Bernieres.

What are your favourite movies?

Comedies are my favourite as they high light the lighter side of life, and remind me that there is no need to take life too seriously.

What are your favourite places in Mallorca?

I prefer the more rugged areas of Mallorca, such as the coastline along the parque levant near Arta.

What does success mean to you?

For me, success equates directly with levels of happiness. I get the most pleasure from spending time with my family and travelling, but the levels of happiness are that much greater if I feel like I deserve it. This comes through working hard, being a good person and a belief that I am giving my best at all times.

Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

I believe that everybody has different prioirities and different philosophical outlooks on life, so there is no universal silver bullet. That said, I would recommend that if you can work out your own motivational factors and what makes you happy, and then do your utmost to work towards making your goals/dreams a reality, then you are along the right track. The more that you put into life, the more that you are likely to get out of it.

Photos: Alexander Warren-Gash for Mashamba Garden Design

2
Mrz

Interview with Maria Antònia Marqués

categories Designer, Interviews    

“Believe in yourself! Decorate step by step. Choose carefully the pieces that will form your home. I always say that decorating takes time. If you decorate one step at a time and have patience, the result will be extraordinary.”

Maria Antònia Marqués

Con Alma Design


Wooden tables of timeless design… sustainable cutting boards I love to use every day… amazing studio located in the heart of Mallorca… In two words: Con Alma Design. A week ago I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Maria Antònia Marqués – interior designer and co-founder of Conalma Design, – speaking about success, daily routine and favorite movies. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

What does a happy day in the life of Maria Antònia Marqués look like?

Every day is a happy day! I wake up at 7 am. It’s so quiet at that time in our house. I make coffee and enjoy the tranquility. Some minutes later the morning chaos starts – the children wake up. We make breakfast and prepare them to go to school. My husband and I work together in a beautiful studio surrounded by nature. We feel very grateful to work in such an environment. We usually work with relaxing music in the background. At 5 pm we pick  up the kids from school and take a walk with our beagle Murta. After the walk we go home, light candles and  prepare the evening meal. Once the children fall asleep, I read or watch TV.


Do you have a daily routine?

Every day is different. Exept Monday morning when we have more organizational stuff.

When did you first discover your love of interior design?

It was born out of pure curiosity. As a child I loved to imagine what the abandoned houses I saw in the countryside would be like. During first year at the university it was not very clear if interior design was the thing I was looking for. During my final project I felt in love with interior design. I finally had a really good time creating something from nothing. I felt fulfilled. From the subsequent work in companies I would have to highlight my time at Denys & von Arend where I learned a lot. Basics, dealing with clients, choosing materials, making moodboards. With that knowledge we – my husband and I – found Conalma Design six years ago. A labour of love.


Looking back at your first project, what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?

I think time teaches. The mistakes teach us too. Each project teaches us to improve certain things and not to do others. It’s all about teaching.

What interior design moves you most?

I love relaxing interiors. Unpretentious and functional. Homes full of life.


How does your home look like?

It’s constantly evolving. We have two young children and our home looks often chaotic. But I love the atmosphere. It feels cozy. We live a small house in the town of Alaró. With stone walls and white walls. I love putting soft carpets for more comfort. We use our wooden f Conalma furniture – tables, lamps and stools at home too. I love the fireplace and the neutral colors scheme. Our favorite place is our garden where children often play.

When designing a home, what was your first source of inspiration?

The first thing I notice is the natural light that enters a house. I look for the spirit of the home and the client’s needs.


How do you achieve such a good scale? Scale is really an interesting and difficult topic.

The scale is the factor that makes everything proportionate but you don’t have to be overwhelmed by it, just doing a good study first of all guarantees a good result. Our pieces are always adapted to space. We do not have standard measures. It’s a design according to space.

What is your best advice on color?

The main color of our pieces is neutral. If you like it colorful, just choose a color that you are never tired of.


What do you suggest people to transform their homes?

Believe in yourself! Decorate step by step. Choose carefully the pieces that will form your home. I always say that decorating takes time. If you decorate one step at a time and have patience, the result will be extraordinary.


What do you love to do when you are not designing?

I love building Lego and 3D puzzles with my oldest son, going to the beach in winter, traveling. I also have a lot of fun baking bread and cookies with my children. I love to read and going to the movies.

What are your favorite books?

I don’t have a favorite book. There are so many that I like depending on the stage of my life. I like The Child of Isaacson Rupert’s Horses, Knowing How to See the Architecture of Bruno Zevi, Madame Bovary de Flaubert, The Garden of the Finzi-Contini of Bassani, The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint Exupery. I have now finished The Villa of the Fabrics by Anne Jacobs. It is also a delight to read books about landscaping.


What are your favorite movies?

Singing in the Rain, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz. Even today I love watching The Wizard of Oz with my children. I love the set of the movie and I always discover new details there. I like a lot The Godfather Part II. There are many great movies but there is a movie that I’m in love with because of the meaning: About time – written and directed by Richard Curtis. It’s a charming, funny and entertaining film that touches and makes you value the little things in life. Oh, and Disney… I like happy ending … always…


What are your favorite places in Mallorca?

Sóller and Formentor.

What does success mean to you?

To know that our design pieces last forever in the homes of our clients. That every time they look at our piece they think about the beauty of the creation process and that an exclusive piece emerged simply from nowhere.


Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

Do not hurry, be patient and enjoy every moment – it is unique and flies by. Work hard and be nice to people.

10
Feb

Interview with David Godshall

categories Designer, Interviews    

“Projects with huge budgets are gross and often quite inappropriate to me.  I abhor the word “luxury” to be honest.  I prefer responsible, efficient, appropriate design that is both cost-effective and challenging.  The most revolutionary thing to me is taking the normal, mundane thing, and using it in a way that no one ever expected…

…I find everyday, residential gardens of working class people to be profoundly interesting as well.  They tend to be egoless exercises in decoration, organization and need, and there’s a clarity and honesty to them that’s endlessly remarkable.”

David Godshall

Please come with me to LA to meet David Godshall, landscape architect and co-founder of Terremoto Landscape. Grab a cup of coffee and sit  down for a little virtual conversation. It’s about gardening, daily routine and some of David’s favorite things. And of course… about Terremoto’s natural, brave, pure, wild, warm and adventurous projects.

What does a happy day in the life of David Godshall look like?

Every day is awesome!  At about 6am, my wife yells “PAPA!” because my youngest son Calder, who is 16 months old, wakes up at about 6am, so he and I get up before the sun rises and go upstairs so she can sleep longer, and we read books and hang out.  Then we eat breakfast, get the boys ready, I drop my four year old boy Wolfgang off at school, which I love to do, and then I drive five minutes to our cool new office, blasting heavy metal obviously.  My favorite days are when I get to be in the office all day, but that rarely happens, usually about half the day I’m driving around to check in on construction, meet new clients, have design presentations, etc.  I hate my inbox, but keeping up with that is part of the job, so I keep up with emails, maybe update our website, check in with everyone on their various projects, if I’m lucky I’ll get to draw for ten minutes at some point.  Home around 5.30pm, dinner with the wife and boys, everyone goes to bed early, so at 8pm I either write a project narrative or drink a gin and tonic and watch a movie and let my mind unwind.  I enjoy my work immensely but it’s often quite intense, and I have to make about four thousand decisions at work every day, so when I’m home I basically turn my phone on airplane mode and don’t think about it.  About a year ago I made the decision to get serious about work + life balance after letting Terremoto run my life for the last 5 years and well, it’s awesome.  I don’t check emails on the weekend, once I’m out of the office, I’m out.


Do you have a daily routine?

The start and end of the day are routine oriented, what happens in the middle is completely different every day.  I like that.

When did you first discover your love of landscape architecture?

There was never a succinct, clear moment where I declared my love for the profession.  I went to graduate school not knowing what it was exactly, the first office I ever worked at was a somewhat terrible place, but the second office I worked at was maybe when I found out how amazing landscape architecture is.  I have Surface Design to thank for that – James Lord, Roderick Wyllie and Geoff DiGirolamo were my bosses and I had the incredibly good fortune to land in an office that encouraged conversation, experimentation, friendship and hard work.  It was at Surface Design that I realized the incredible depth and breadth of the profession, and that landscape architecture was almost a lens through which you could live your life.


What landscapes move you most?

To be honest, I prefer pure wilderness and nature to designed landscapes.  I hike every chance I can get – and just walking and looking at nature and natural systems is #1 in my book.  I find everyday, residential gardens of working class people to be profoundly interesting as well.  They tend to be egoless exercises in decoration, organization and need, and there’s a clarity and honesty to them that’s endlessly remarkable.

Is there one bodily sense – as in touch, sight or hearing – that is most powerful in experiencing a place?

I guess sight is the primary sense in interpreting a landscape, but they’re all really inseparable, so it’s hard to say.


How does your home garden look like?

It’s a wild, messy, mostly native garden.  There’s a hippy little deck and tree house that the kids play with often, tree stumps and driftwood for climbing and moving around.  It’s a work in progress, but it was planted about three years ago and it’s starting to hit it’s stride and feel stron.


What do you suggest people to transform a small garden?

Spend a lot of money on one huge tree.  Or one huge boulder.  Rather than trying to do a lot of little things, just do one or two big moves.  Or, conversely, plant a ton of natives and just enjoy a wild garden in which native insects, birds, and all sort of animals will pass through and enjoy.

If you had no limits, what would be your dream project?

I like limits!  I love constraints!  Projects with huge budgets are gross and often quite inappropriate to me.  I abhor the word “luxury” to be honest.  I prefer responsible, efficient, appropriate design that is both cost-effective and challenging.  The most revolutionary thing to me is taking the normal, mundane thing, and using it in a way that no one ever expected.


What do you love to do when you are not designing landscapes?

Hiking, running.  Exercising.  Being in nature, looking at the mountains, admiring the grandeur of natural systems.  Being with my family.  Cheesy, but the cheese is true.

What are your favorite books?

This is a random grab……….

Distance and Engagement by VOGT

Everything ever written by Gilles Clement

Anything by OFFICE:  Kersten Geers and David van Severen

PRAXIS:  Studio Mumbai

I love the writing (it’s online) of Georgina Reid of the Planthunter website.

I love the writing (it’s online) of my friend the plantsman Jonathon Froines.

What does success mean to you?

Getting to build long lasting, meaningful, challenging gardens and spaces that let individuals, families and communities experience landscape in ways pleasant, simple, and complex.


Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

The moment you feel your time is being wasted, or someone isn’t speaking to you honestly and directly, move onto the next thing.  Have exactly zero patience for bullshit.


12
Aug

Interview with Vicente Wolf

categories Designer, Interviews    

“There was a period in my life when I did not have a clue about who or what I wanted to be. I was completely disconnected from whatever talents I might have had. I was fortunate enough to meet Bob Patino, an interior designer who became a mentor to me. Very quickly, I found a direction and a career.

I immersed myself in work, and the years flew by. I was continually looking for the next job, the next challenge. The one constant in my schedule was an annual trip. Every December I visited some exotic destination. This was adventure travel, and it usually did not involve luxury hotels or pampering. The point was to get closer to another culture.

One year I was in Himalaya, hiking through a rhododendron forest along the border between Sikkim and Nepal. The views were incredible, but the mountan path was more suited to goats than to people. It was a perpetual zigzag – climbing up, flattering out, then climbing up again. I was looking at the steep incline coming up and thinking about how I hate going uphill. When was it going to be lunchtime? How much farther did we have to go before it would be over? Why was I here?

All of a sudden a light bulb went off in my head. Wait a minute. I’m walking on the flat part now, and it’s actually kind of pleasant. The clouds just parted, the sun came out, and I can feel the warmth on my skin. Why don’t I enjoy it, instead of worrying about what’s up ahead?

The future will always be just out of reach. You’ll get there eventually, and it may not be as bad as you think. But in the meantime, don’t miss the here and now. Live in the moment. That’s what’s important. What I’m doing today? How can I use my energies?

I don’t pretend to have absorbed this message completely, but I’m trying. There is always a before and an after; but the point is to be present and aware for all the moments in between.”

Vicente Wolf, “Lifting the Curtain on Design”

I can barely contain my enthusiasm for the work of Vicente Wolf – a legend on the design scene with a magnificent portfolio, author, lecturer, photograph, world traveler, and art aficionado. His work is like no one else’s. Sophisticated, elegant, and comfortable combination of „strength and sensuality“. I’ve read almost every design book that was published in the last 20 years. Among my top 5 favorites are “Learning to See”, “Lifting the Curtain on Design”, and “The Four Elements of Design” – all written by Vicente Wolf. Recently I had the great pleasure to have a cyber sit down with the New York designer. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy the conversation. I sure did.

What does a happy day in the life of Vicente Wolf look like?

Presenting a job that I’m very proud of and having the client feel the same. I love gardening and if it’s an extraordinary day, I’m getting on a plane to some exotic place.


Do you have a daily routine?

Absolutely:

Get up at 5:30 – run, do sit ups, feed the fish and the cat.

7:30 Meditate for a half hour, get ready to go to the office.

8:45 Go thru emails and messages, flip through the NYT and greet the staff as they come in.

9:15 Work begins: Put finishing touches on spaces, offer my design concepts for others, Google around for that perfect chair, instruct the intern on his way to the D+D for fabric samples, etc.

11:00 Jump next door to my showroom, VW Home, to review the new shipment of inlaid pieces that just came in from Bangkok.  Work with showroom manager Trudi Romeo on reorganizing the displays.

12:00 Go over photos to determine which we should post on social media.

12:45  Return messages.

1:00  Have my cantaloupe and cottage cheese lunch.

1:30 Walk around to each of the designers for updates and to weigh in on the projects they are working on.

2:30 Move into my marketing director’s office to go over various items: contest judging requests, media outreach, PowerPoint presentation for upcoming speaking engagement and respond to editors’ questions.

3:30  Perhaps join the team listening to a product rep in the conference room, dash over to a job site, respond to designers’ questions regarding projects, Skype with client, etc.

5:30 Head home to meet my trainer for yet another workout.

5:45 Prepare a healthy and delicious dinner and get ready for the theater.

10:45 Go to bed.

When did you first discover your love of interior design?

In the 1970’s.


Looking back at your first project, what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?

The resources to create custom furnishings instead of purchasing from the showrooms.


What interior design moves you most?

Designing spaces with wonderful natural lighting.

When designing your home, what was your first source of inspiration?

For my home in Montauk, it was the ocean, without a doubt.


What is your best advice on color?

To use mercurial colors that change as the day progresses.


What do you suggest people to transform their homes?

Work from floor plans and complete the plan before beginning work. You must have a total vision of the space before starting.

If you had no limits, what would be your dream project?

One where the client is clear about what they want and then gives me the freedom to let me design one step beyond their expectations.  When they trust me, they are always very happy with the result.


What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?

Being in the garden, traveling, cooking.


What are your favorite books?

Biographies; getting a glimpse into the lives of successful people is a marvelous source of personal growth.

What does success mean to you?

Having my work that brings me much joy and enjoying my life.


Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

Even if it’s a horrible day, you’ll always come out ahead if you put your integrity first and never compromise. Be a professional in your work and never forget that you MUST learn how to be a business person first and a creative person second.

Photos: Vicente Wolf

1
Apr

Interview with Maria Malinowski

categories Designer, Interviews    

„Be open minded and don’t be afraid to experiment with your interior!“

Maria Malinowski

I am so happy to welcome the fabulous interior designer Maria Malinowski to my blog today. I hope you’ll join me and enjoy the dreamy interiors of Maria and her studio Shoko Design.

What does a happy day in the life of Maria Malinowski look like?

I try to make each day special and to be thankful for what I have. My happiest day is when I can spend relaxing time with my husband and my little daughter.


Do you have a daily routine?

I’m a huge coffee lover so the first thing after opening my eyes is to go to my kitchen and grab a cup of coffee. Besides that each day is totally different. There is no room for routine.

When did you first discover your love of interior design?

When I was a kid. I preferred playing Lego with my brother than dolls.


When designing your home, what was your first source of inspiration?

I love to draw inspiration from the surrunding world… from songs, places and people.

What is your best advice on color?

Create a good and neutral base. Then add a „wow” effect on the wall.


What do you suggest people to transform their homes?

Be open minded and don’t be afraid to experiment with your interior. The first thought is always the best!

What do you love to do when you are not designing?

Skiing is my second passion. For me summer don’t need to exist. I love winter! I also love to travel a lot. I constantly need to change places, because I get bored really quickly. May be it’s because I constantly need new sources of inspirations.


What are your favorite books?

I love interior books. But I guess my favorite one is Scandinavian dreaming & kitchen culture.

What are your favorite places to visit in Poznan?

LARS, LARS & LARS – my favorite Scandinavian restaurant with amazing interior.


What does success mean to you?

I will tell you when I achieve it. My list is pretty long! I’m working on it.

Imagine… you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tip?

Surround yourself with good people who will give you motivation and strength.

photos: shoko design

11
Mrz

Interview with Mandy Hart

categories Designer, Interviews    

“Smile, love and be kind – always. Follow your heart and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to try the things your heart demands, embrace them, no matter what your head tells you.”

Mandy Hart

It’s time for an inspirational interview again. Please fly with me to Australia to meet the product stylist Mandy Hart and to enjoy her bold, warm and inviting home.

What does a happy day in the life of Mandy Hart look like?

I’d start the day waking before the kids, taking a cup of tea outside on the deck and watching the pelicans on the creek at the end of the garden. Once the kids are up, we’ll have pancakes together and head out to the beach for some exploring, rockpooling and a picnic there for lunch.  Being close to the beach and having access to all the activities that go along with it, was one of the main reasons we moved from the UK to Australia five years ago. This was our dream! In the afternoon, I might head out for a spot of thrifting around the local junk shops, I love it when I find something with a good story behind it! Finally, an evening watching the sunset at the local headland as whales and dolphins go by is always the most magical of all!


Do you have a daily routine?

I thrive on structure, so I always try to create a semblance of routine, even though no day is actually the same in our family! My husband is a doctor and works shifts in the emergency department, which actually suits us well, because we can sneak daytime dates in every so often!  I’m up around 6:30 to get the kids ready for school and once I drop them off, I head to the beach for a walk, often with my business partner, so we can discuss plans for the day. Then its back to my home office to catch up on emails & speak with clients. I collect the kids at 3pm and we’ll have a fun, busy afternoon of sports or hanging out at the beach. Then its home and a family dinner, we’re crazy about tacos at the moment and I love the fact they involve minimal preparation!  I’m absolutely a night owl, so once they’ve gone to bed, I’ll edit photos and plan out the next day.

When did you discover your love of interior design?

I was exposed to it from birth! My mum is an incredibly creative woman, and absolutely my inspiration. She ran a fashion business in Ireland, where I grew up, and so design was always around me – from going to European fashion shows, choosing fabrics and colours with her, or visiting interiors stores whilst on our travels, to choose pieces for the house that she and my dad slowly renovated over a 10 year period. She taught me so much – the importance of embracing negative space being one of them. Not rushing, but building a beautiful collection of timeless pieces, being another. I always respected the fact that she bought pieces because she loved them, and I learnt a lot from watching her reinvent them within another home, rather than start again from scratch. That to me is always a fun challenge!


When designing your home, what was your first source of inspiration?

Each time we move, the first thing I do is paint the walls white, creating a blank canvas, which allows me to understand the space and consider what will work best in it. My Persian rug collection travels with me everywhere. These rugs have been in my family for over 30 years and I have added to them over the years too. Once the rugs go down, they define certain areas within the home, and creating this definition was really key in our current house, because the living areas are so bright and open.

How do you achieve such a good scale? Scale is really an interesting and difficult topic.

It is indeed and I like to ensure the eye is always drawn up to appreciate the higher details, so, for example, taking shelves right up to the ceiling and filling that top shelf is important or adding taller plants to fill part of a tall space. When I’m designing a space I am constantly stepping outside it to look at it from afar and consider the scale and layout. And once you have that layout, do not be afraid to play with extremes, as they offer so much interest to a home. For example, on one large wall, I have a tiny painted tile that my daughter created. It is small for the space, but it works, because the eye is attracted to it. Equally, oversized artwork or a huge branch in a vase will offer visual interest and if everything else is to scale, an oversized piece works beautifully.


What is your best advice on color?

Color offers the opportunity to have fun and express yourself, so use as much color as you, personally can live with. I adore color in other people’s homes, but for me, I find that a neutral base equals a tranquil home, to which I always add rugs for a little warmth and character. Before starting my Instagram feed, I actually thought my home was much more neutral than it really is!

What do you suggest people do to transform their homes?

Don’t be afraid to add character to your home by finding interesting pieces that have a story and mixing them up with newer items. Bring the outside in – using nature in the home doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, I keep clippers in the car and if a branch catches my eye, I’ll snip it and bring it home! Paint can transform anything – vivid white is a great place to start, it brightens a tired home and creates a beautiful blank canvas for you to work with.


What do you love to do when you are not designing?

I love being able to walk on the beach, rain or shine! I am rediscovering the joys of cooking now that my kids have passed the picky eating stage! And I recently started painting again, which is such a pleasure.

What are your favorite books?

Historical fiction is my favourite. I just finished Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and I savoured every last detail, it is just so beautifully written.


What are your favorite places to visit in Australia?

We haven’t travelled a lot here yet, but we took a road trip to Noosa last year and I loved it, yet more stunning beaches! I adore skiing and travelling in Europe, we have family in Cyprus and recently converted the family holiday home to an Airbnb (@villa_meraki) using all the old family pieces and auction house finds – it was such a  labour of love.

What does success mean to you?

Making sure that I never look back and wish I had tried something, being able to give back and setting a good example for my kids.

Imagine… you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tip?

Smile, love and be kind – always. Follow your heart and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to try the things your heart demands, embrace them, no matter what your head tells you.


6
Jul

Interview with Marie-Laure Helmkampf

categories Designer, Interviews    

“By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.”

Marie-Laure Helmkampf


It’s time for an inspirational interview again. Please come with me to the South of France to meet interior designer Marie-Laure Helmkampf and to enjoy her dreamy interiors.

What does a happy day in the life of Marie-Laure Helmkampf look like?

I am the happiest in the spring. I like running in the morning… not too early. I work from home so there is no stressful commute. The jobs I take are usually houses in the countryside and going there is peaceful. I love driving to Provence and visiting the site I manage. I love to see the changes and most of all I love to see the clients happy. Designing a spaces make me smile. All phases are interesting to me.


Do you have a daily routine?

Absolutely not. My days and schedule vary all the time. I like that. I dislike the word routine.

When did you first discover your love of interior design?

I knew before I was ten that I was very sensitive to architecture and decor around me. The interior design came naturally in my 20′s.


How did you get your first assignment?

I was finishing school and I was lucky that my husband’s boss trusted me to finish his beautiful apartment in New York.

When designing a space, what is your first source of inspiration?

I think first of all what the client really wants. Then I look at the space. It is a combination of elements that guide me: the clinets’ wishes, the light, the volume of the room. I don’t go for lavish and ostentatious decor. I like soft and natural with authentic textures. I love to incorporate vintage pieces. I’m not inspired by new, polished and cold design


How do you achieve a good scale? Scale is really an interesting and difficult topic.

Yes, indeed. It is progressive in my work: I don’t always design a project at once. It evolves as projects gets done. But I usually see the big picture ahead. Ceiling heights and the lights are a good guide.

What do you suggest people do to transform their homes?

It is a big question. It depends on their budget. I like to break wals… to open spaces… to bring in light with new windows. Every project is different. Every client is different.


What do you love to do when you are not designing?

I like to paint (oil), walk on the beach, nap, and travel with my family.

Do you have a favorite book?

“Le Bonheur d’etre soi” by Moussa Nabati.


What are your favorite places to visit in France?

L’ile de ré – the island I was born. It is flat and quaint. And the best harbour in France: Saint Martin de ré.

What does success mean to you?

Success can give you the choice of whom you want to work with (or not).


Imagine… you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tip?

By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.


photos: Marie-Laure Helmkampf

9
Nov

Interview with Leslie Shapiro

categories Designer, Interviews    

“Be grateful, be humble, be friendly, be kind. Be open to all possibilities, because you never know what’s around the next corner. Don’t lose your imagination, because imagination holds magic, and magic has the power to expand. Never stop trying to create beauty in the world, in all ways big and small. One moment of beauty or kindness in a person’s day can change everything.”

Leslie Shapiro

It’s time for an inspirational interview! Please come with me to Los Angeles to meet the interior and product designer Leslie Shapiro of Shapiro Joyal Studio and to enjoy Leslie’s bright and stylish interiors.

What does a happy day in the life of Leslie Shapiro look like?

A happy day for me is one where I get to get dirty, either painting, building, or on the job site. Its one where I take an idea, a sketch, a conversation and take steps to turn it into a tangible, living item. I’m at my happiest when I’m very busy,  laughing and working with clients and contractors, and making beauty happen.  A good day is when I fall into bed at night, exhausted, knowing that I’ve stretched every hour to its fullest.


Do you have a daily routine?

Yes.  During the week I’m out of bed at 5 am.  I’ve always been an early riser, and having quiet time before the world wakes up helps keep me focused. My older teenage daughter and I get the morning routine underway and leave the house together at 6:20 am.  We take the scenic route along the Pacific Coast Highway into the city, and often she sleeps or we listen to music.  I drop her at high school, and my husband does the same with our other daughter, though at a different school, and on a later schedule! Balancing work and family gets complicated, so it’s divide and conquer!

I’m in the studio by 8:00 am, and I tend to all things business until 9:30 – emails, scheduling, paperwork, organization.  Mid morning, I head out for client meetings, field work and site reviews. I try to have a break around 2:30 – coffee with my husband, a nap under my desk, or a walk with my dog.

By 4:30, I’m back on the road for the next chapter of the day.  That consists of a dance class or an evening run, a homemade dinner with my family and when I’m lucky, a movie in bed with my husband.  I’ve been making a concerted effort not to bring any work home over the weekend. Family time is priority.


When did you discover your love of interior design?

It was actually pointed out to me by a boyfriend who noticed I was always taking spaces apart.  I was studying art and painting but he suggested that I take a design class.  I did, and was absolutely hooked!  Our studies covered broad categories, like fabrics and lighting, art history motifs and construction.  It spoke to me on so many levels, but it took someone else close to me to have enough insight to see my inherent interest in it. Also, my very passionate teacher inspired me to keep learning more.


How did you get your first assignment?

In the late 1980’s, I was working in Los Angeles for interior designer Kerry Joyce.  Not many people know this, but back then he had an architectural detail company called Designer Resource.

When our design project finished, he made me the sales rep for that company, and I would call upon many of the architects in the city. I got to know many of them. Sometimes they needed help with the interiors of their projects.  Voila – I found my niche. Back then, the disciplines of architecture and interior design didn’t mix, so if an architect trusted your sensibility, it was a great badge of honor.

I was 22 and was literally handed my first 2 design projects. It was a huge learning experience. I got to see very quickly what clients expected from a designer!

Some designers believe that the first piece for any room is the rug or a painting that sets the color palette. What is your first source of inspiration?

Almost always, the space itself. When you take time to study it and listen to it, it will give you a clear sense of the direction you’re to take.

That said, the first cue can be anything honestly… a piece of pottery – a tattered book cover. There’s a moment as an artist where something hits you in your gut, and you know that that’s the thread you want to follow. When a client is involved, obviously there are conversations that take place and clues that unfold. I always take my cue from what the client already has. There’s usually an interesting background story there.


How do you achieve a good scale? Scale is a really interesting and difficult topic.

Scale can indeed be a bit tricky. I think understanding it comes mostly from experience. Many designers will tell you how a piece they fell in love with wouldn’t fit through the door, or looked so different in the project than on the showroom floor. Once you make that mistake, you start to pay very close attention to what you’re seeing and how it will work in the end design. Personally, I have to draw things out in true scale to get the real proportion and relationships; I never leave it to my eye alone. Some designers are very good at that, but that’s too risky for me. I have to see things on paper first.


What is the biggest decorating mistake people make?

One is that people play it too safe and feel they need to match everything. They lose faith in their personal eye and decide not to take risks. Letting your unique style come through a room is exciting and dynamic. Also, never, never, never buy art to match the color scheme! Woods don’t need to match, styles don’t need to match,  There should be a common thread, yes, but the fastest way to make a space boring is to have everything read in one tonality. A space becomes dynamic by its differences. Juxtaposing colors, styles and adds variety and interest. Also, I’m not a fan of trends. I really believe personal style will never lose appeal .  Jumping on the trend bandwagon is a surefire way to hate everything you’ve got within a year.


What do you suggest people do to transform their homes?

Take everything out and make an attempt to use things in a different way.  Move the bench in the entry to the bedroom and use it as a nightstand, or a coffee table.  Take the chairs that go together as a pair and split them into different rooms.  Drape a remnant piece of fabric over the headboard for a new twist.  Hang a rug on the wall as art.  Start to see things outside of their normal purpose


What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?

Ballet. Yoga. Running. Painting. Hanging in my backyard with my husband and daughters. We live near the Santa Monica Mountains and it’s a great antidote to the fast paced city.  Since we drive so much during the week, staying close to home is both a necessity and luxury.

What are your favorite books?

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. It’s small, minimal and gets right to the point.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Classic and beautiful…Nostalgic for me because of my French roots.

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. About a boy and his connection to his home, family and animals. It is simply one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It was written in the 1930’s.


Do you have a favorite movie?

I have several. This is silly – but I love the animated movie Ratatouille. It reminds me of my French (gourmand) mother – and that was her favorite word – ratatouille. She would roll it on her tongue and we would giggle. Another is Harold and Maude. The Cat Stevens soundtrack kills me whenever I hear it. It is the symbol of my childhood – a mixture of twisted, dark, wickedly funny and breathtakingly sad at times. I haven’t watched the movie in years because it is simply too beautiful and painful for me.


What are your favorite places in LA?

There are simply too many. Being born here, I’m still constantly surprised by the gems that are undiscovered in this gorgeous city. I absolutely love the modernist architecture around the hills of  Silverlake, the craftsman bungalows surrounding the Venice Canals built by Abbott Kinney at the turn of the century, the Hollywood Reservoir, Carroll Avenue on the East side where restored Victorian houses go to live out their lives… the leftover adobes and ranches of the San Fernando Valley. I could go on and on. The city is vast and has so many pockets and flavors. I never get bored with the diversity in this city!


What does success mean to you?

Success in my career means my peers and colleagues find what I’m doing interesting.  It means making my clients happy. If you’ve touched them viscerally,  then that is what good design is about.

Getting picked by Ellen DeGeneres as one her favorite designers was a defining moment for me. To have a person of that caliber handpick you for your work, well that was a personal high moment in my career, of course!

Success in my personal life is feeling I’ve done everything I can to show up and love the people I’m committed to.  It’s when my daughters spontaneously hug me and tell me they love me that I feel I’ve been a good parent.  That is the deepest success.


Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

Be grateful, be humble, be friendly, be kind.  Be open to all possibilities, because you never know what’s around the next corner. Don’t lose your imagination, because imagination holds magic, and magic has the power to expand. Never stop trying to create beauty in the world, in all ways big and small. One moment of beauty or kindness in a person’s day can change everything.

photos: hgtv, shapiro joyal studio, benny chan

15
Jul

Interview with Julliana Camargo

categories Designer, Interviews    

“The biggest mistake is not to create with the heart.”

Julliana Camargo

It’s time for an inspirational interview again. Please come with me to São Paulo to meet architect and interior designer Julliana Camargo and to enjoy Julliana’s bold, warm and inviting interiors.

What does a happy day in the life of Julianna Camargo look like?

A happy day in my life starts with my family. I’m married and I have two girls, Maria who is 5 years old and Luisa who is 8 months. After taking care of my kids and enjoying this morning moment, I love running.  Every day I can I go run. Those simple things make me happy.

Do you have a daily routine?

I don’t have a routine in my job. Every day is different. Sometimes I go early in the morning to the studio and sometimes I like to go around in the city to discouver new things, make contacts. I love to feel the city, to feel the people… São Paulo is an amazing city but my job happens in the studio, so I love to stay there and see everythig happening , I love to participate in all my projects from the begining till the end.

When did you discover your love of interior design?

My family loves to travel… Since I was a like 10 years old, my father and my mother used to travel first around Brasil and then to Europe and the US… So I learned to apreciate good things in life, not just architecture, but to eat, drink, live …  I love arts and fashion too….

How did you get your first assignment?

When I just graduade from the university, I had a friend that asked me to do a project for her house. She wanted professinal work and pay me very well. Perfect for a first job :-)

Some designers believe that the first piece for any room is the rug or a painting that sets the color palette. What is your first source of inspiration?

I think that I am infuenced by my feelings and emotions in the particular moment… If I am interest in Brazilian art, something in my project will have Brazilian art… I hear all my client’s desires and I mixed them with a little bit of colour…

How do you achieve a good scale? Scale is a really interesting and difficult topic.

Studying the elements and the space … It’s very important to visit the place you are working on several times in different times.

What is the biggest decorating mistake people make?

I think the biggest mistake is not to create with the heart. And sometimes a see a lot of repetition around… Why do your house have to be the same as your neighbor’s?

What do you suggest people do to transform their homes?

First of all, I suggest to contract a professinal to help. Let the professional work and if you don’t like it, ask for change. I think, this works well because you are going to have differents ideas and mixed them with your taste and your feelings will help you to complete a great project.

What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?

I love, love, love: Be with my family. Travel. Visiting a museum or an artist studio. I really love walking in the city. In São Paulo sometimes you have to make an effort to walk. I love running.  My husband is a triathete and he is my inspiration to keep running.

What are your favorite books?

I love all the books from Chico Buarque.

Do you have a favorite movie?

All movies about love.

What are your favorite places in Brazil?

Trancoso, Praia do Espelho, Ilha Bela.

What does success mean to you?

Do what you love and never stop doing it.

Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

Feel everythig… Taste, smell, touch, hearing, see… Imagine differents forms. Find happiness. Believe.

photos: Julliana Camargo

1
Jul

Interview with Ramon Pleysier

categories Architecture, Designer, Interviews    

“I’d like to think that my kids might look back at my work in the future and be proud of what dad achieved – it’s not about the money.”

Ramon Pleysier

An elegant simplicity. Sleek, modern houses. Summed up in one word: Pleysier Perkins. I’m excited to chat with Ramon Pleysier. Ramon is in Melbourne. I – at the Black Sea. Wherever you are, I hope you’ll join us. Ramon Pleysier not only has an incredible portfolio but also four young children. The director of Pleysier Perkins Architects loves Mid-century architecture and going to the movies. Heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of you who ordered my e-book Celebrity Designers: 50 Interviews on Design, Architecture, and Life. I hope you enjoy the new interview with Ramon Pleysier as much as I did.

What does a happy day in the life of Ramon Pleysier look like?

I think, it would be time with family and friends. We entertain often and try to avoid discussing work too much. Apart from potentially boring your guests, it’s a good time to focus on more important things like life!


Do you have a daily routine?

I start work mid morning. This allows me to help out with the kids activities and I can avoid the morning traffic. We have four young children (7.5, 6.5 and 4 year old twins). So our home life is busy to say the least! I get home just in time to kiss the kids good night and then relax with the wife and debrief on the day – no work after hours. Apart from scribblers, because they are still fun.

When did you first discover your love of architecture?

I always wanted to draw, one way or another. I remember being fascinating by a house just up the road from where I grew up. I could never understand why I was taken by this house (maybe it was the sports car in the driveway :-) . I still love this house today. I can still appreciate the design and how it hugs the landscape so beautifully. I never found out who designed it but I would certainly be happy to have it in my portfolio.


Is there something that connects all your projects?

I hope the answer to this is simplicity. I try to avoid following trends and aim for the homes to stand the test of time rather than having a “date stamp”, a bit like the old house I first admired still looking great fifty years on. I think the key to the success and longevity of a project is the selection and composition of materials and form. I think, this pursuit is endless.

Looking back at your first project, what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?

I can honestly say that my first project was an amazing experience. I had a great builder with a client that showed amazing faith in me. I remember at the time feeling an overwhelming sense of responsibility to them as a family. I still feel that sense of resposibility now but with many projects under my belt I’m more confident that I can achieve a good result.


What architecture moves you most?

I still love Mid-century architecture – always will.

What are the most important design elements?

Most important… it’s got to work! Colors, finishes and materials are nothing if the spaces are not on brief.


How does your house look like?

I have a 1960′s house that I’m slowly restoring. Flat roof, exposed beams etc. The house was essentially intact and I’m very careful to restore to the original intent rather than inflict too much of my own design on it.

If you had no limits, what would be your dream project?

Hmmmm… Budget free on any project would be nice.


What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?

I love going to the movies and to see a show on the big screen.

What are your favorite books?

Sounds boring but I love architecture books…


What are your favorite places in Australia?

Hard to go past the beach particularly now with the kids.

What does success mean to you?

I’d like to think that my kids might look back at my work in the future and be proud of what dad achieved – it’s not about the money.


Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?

Work your ass off (unless you have wealthy parents :-) .

Don’t ever give up.

Be fair and always show compassion.

Always be there for your family and friends – they need you and you need them.

photos: Pleysier Perkins Architects

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