Once again the year has flown by, and the holiday season is almost here! As we approach the season of gratitude, we would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support. We love the enthusiasm of our members and continued participation in educational programs. Congratulations to each of you for being an active part of the design community. We encourage everyone to embrace the joy of the holiday season. We hope that this year ends on a happy note for you and that your holiday season is filled with many moments of joy. May you have time to spend with friends and family to truly appreciate the things that matter most. Best wishes for the holidays and wishing you much health, happiness, love and success throughout the New Year! Designer Lisa Fine found success by jumping in and taking chances but also learning from every mistake. Her textile designs are iconic, and she continues to draw inspiration from travels around the world. Lisa recently took some time from her hectic schedule to chat with our editor, KK Snyder, about her recently-released first book, Near & Far - Interiors I Love, so we could share her insight with our members. Enjoy!
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Designer Society of America
Interiors She Loves – A Chat with Lisa Fine
By KK Snyder
When personal friend and interiors photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna encouraged her to consider a book project―her first― textiles designer Lisa Fine was intrigued but wasn’t sure of the angle. She began by thinking of it as a wonderful platform for talking about her fabrics, but the more she thought about how it would look, the more she began to embrace a bigger picture.
“I decided instead of having it just about me, I wanted to do it about all the people and the places that have inspired me and brought me into doing what I do,” says Lisa, who launched her fabric business about a dozen years ago, prior to which she’d traveled extensively.
“I’m very attracted to interiors―many of which are the homes of designers―that are more reflections of the people that live in them than the actual design scheme,” she shares.
The resulting book, Near & Far – Interiors I love, features homes of the many people that have inspired her. “Most of them are people who love to travel, and either they collect or they’re gardeners or big readers, people that just bring elements into their design other than just a flat matching of colors and patterns and placing of furniture. It’s really sort of an art on how to live, too; these are houses that are lived in.
“Most of these people love to entertain and cook and most of them have dogs. It’s a casual idea about a luxurious way to live. Some are very simple houses, but they’re very comfortable and lavish in the way that people are free to have their pets and to eat and drink and have people over. They’re really grand interiors that never seem pretentious or stuffy.”
Though many have influenced her career, Lisa puts several friends at the top of her list, including Charlotte and Alexander di Carcaci because of their continual rapport―they’ve been friends over 30 years and spend time together in London every year, perusing antiques and visiting museums. The di Carcacis are also featured in Lisa’s book.
“Obviously, your friends might be your greatest source of inspiration because you see them more and you discuss things,” she says, also naming fellow textiles designer, Carolina Irving, with whom she once had a clothing line with and continues to enjoy visiting exhibits and galleries.
“The house in the book that I probably saw before I saw anyone else’s house, would be John Stefanidis’s,” she says of another major influencer. “That was 30 years ago and sort of a mind changing experience because I’d never seen anything like it.”
One of the biggest finds during her travels was a gold gilt mirror that she found in a junk shop in Istanbul and later saw the same mirrors on the walls of a palace in Damascus. “I love all that import/export Hatcher broken china; I have a piece of that I love. One of my favorite pieces of furniture I found is like a Louis XVI black lacquer desk that I bought at an antique fair in Paris. It wasn’t a find in the sense that it was a deal, it was that I’d always looked for a black lacquer desk and I found that.”
As far as personal style, she loves classic French and English antiques to anchor a room, along with traditional shaped upholstery. Also, she always layers with elements of Orientalist influence and pieces from exotic travels. “I love chinoiserie, I love black lacquer, I love sort of tribal embroideries and Indian block prints. I love mixing all that, but because you have the anchor of the classic antiques and traditional upholstery, it never looks like it’s a souk or it’s ethnic, it just gives an interesting layer to something and it’s never staid or boring.”
Lisa’s line of textiles began over 12 years ago with her first trip to India, a locale she returns to frequently. “My first trip to India, I was absolutely speechless, breathless, everything, at all the fantastic colors and the color combinations that I’d never seen together, the patterns, the florals, the paisleys―all the things I’d always liked― just on steroids everywhere I went.”
After studying it and traveling the country more, visiting block printers, museums, villages and dyers, looking for inspiration for her own designs, she realized much of what she was witnessing originally came from Persia, current day Iran. “And so many of the motifs are centered around the garden…slightly feminine, though sometimes the flower will be geometric as opposed to romantic, that’s really the basis of my textiles.”
Lisa enjoys the never-ending journey and research, and just when she decides she’s completed her last development for a while, she can’t help herself and produces three more. Instagram is a big tool for her, and through it she’s met designers and dealers all over the world, she says. “To me, there’s nothing like it; it’s just the best.”
Designers: “Don’t Worry”
My biggest mistakes lead to my biggest lessons.
Through the years, she says her biggest mistakes also became her biggest lessons. For example, she spent months at a time in India trying to print textiles, but couldn’t get the quality control, timing and reliability needed. However, her eventual success was the result of all the frustration and mistakes. Just don’t worry, she advises new designers.
“No matter how long it takes, no matter how many mistakes you make, if you’re constantly evolving, don’t worry about it. You don’t even realize what you’re learning in the process because it’s not an overnight thing. It’s an artistic thing; the more you experiment, the more trial and error and the more mistakes you make, the more you’ve learned.”
We just had to share this fantastic article.
Thank you AD!
Do I Need to Get My Client a Holiday Gift?
Dealing with in-laws isn't the only stressful part of the holidays…
By AD PRO
Dear AD PRO,
Should I give my clients a holiday present? If so, what?
Dear NSS Santa,
’Tis the season…for festive decorations, festive cocktails, and decidedly un-festive stressing over whether or not to play Santa with your client list. What to possibly get the homeowner who already has everything (thanks to you)?
Manhattan interior designer Tina Ramchandani, for one, embraces the challenge. “I’m a huge gifter,” she says. “The holidays are a magical time and I enjoy sending clients something to show my appreciation for our year together.” She usually goes for fresh flowers, a beautiful candle, or a great bottle of wine. “If it leads to future business, that’s great, but my genuine purpose is to share something that I think someone will appreciate.” Cristina Villalón of Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón likes to gift newer clients a coffee-table book (perhaps even the firm’s own monograph, Places of Purpose, “which is a win-win, as it provides a reminder of the firm every time they see it,” she says). For those she has a longer and more intimate relationship with, she’ll send something more personal—framed original sketches of the client’s home, for instance. “Design is all in the details,” says Villalón, “so special gifts like this really speak to who you are and show that you care.”
Every year, Boston interior designer Kathie Chrisicos custom-creates on-brand cards to send to all clients and vendors (with handwritten messages, of course). Gifts go to an edited list that includes multiple-project clients, clients who have become friends, and clients and colleagues who have championed the company or created referrals. “But I make very sure that the holiday is a holiday they embrace, and I also make sure that where I send the gift is where they are spending their holidays,” says Chrisicos. “If I have any doubts on those fronts, I make the gift a celebration of the New Year.”
But not everyone gets into the gift-giving spirit—at least not at holiday time. Fort Worth interior designer Shelby Whitfield forgoes seasonal gifts in favor of end-of-project or “I-saw-this-perfect-piece-for-your-home-and-I-want- you-to-have-it” gifts, she says. “I’ve found those to be more authentic to my personality and therefore a much better fit for my business structure and clients.”
Seattle interior designer John Monte takes a cue from the book Gift-ology and also gives year-round. “The holidays are the most cluttered time of year for gifting,” he says. “It makes the chance of our gift or card standing out pretty small, and we want our gift-giving process to be just as significant as our relationships.”
Julie Assenberg, a designer in Salt Lake City, felt pressured to give clients holiday gifts for years—and, until last year she did. “I bought gifts, wrapped them, and had custom hang tags printed with my logo,” she says. “In the end, I was too tired to deliver them—plus I saw a huge need in the community.” This year, she’s sending a holiday greeting asking clients for donations to a local homeless shelter instead. “My hope for 2020 is that more architects, designers, and those that can afford to hire us will begin giving back to those who truly need it,” says Assenberg. “After all, we as a group believe in the concept of home more than any other.”
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