“ MY ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO PLEASE MY CLIENTS IN A WAY THAT SURPRISES AND DELIGHTS. ”
— BRIGETTE ROMANEK
Love is defined as an intense feeling of deep affection. And we believe many, if not all, interior designers probably know what this feeling is like when it comes to the passion you experience for your career. On days when a client is fussing about a paint color or supply chain issues are causing you headaches, it’s not uncommon to reflect back on what brought you into this profession in the first place—LOVE!
Unlike working in the commercial industry, residential interior designers are welcomed by individuals and families who invite designers into their homes and daily lives so that the best design and décor decisions can be made for them. Our ability to tap into their passion can determine the success of a design project.
“Home should tell the story of who you are and be a collection of what you love.”
– Nate Berkus, Interior designer, Author, and TV Personality
As we think about February being a time of celebrating all things love, we should each be reminded to keep sight of why we love our craft. It expresses who we are and what we love.
Artist Laura Lloyd Fontaine chooses to seek joy and love in life, especially for her work.
The daughter of a famous Atlanta interior designer, Fontaine learned at a very young age how important art can be to adding the finishing touches on an interior design project. And today, she’s always so incredibly grateful when someone leans on her to help bring a room together with that final touch—a piece she was commissioned to paint.
“It’s very comforting when someone has been looking and looking, and they find me,” Laura L. Fontaine shares in an interview with the Designer Society of America team. “It makes me feel so good when someone loves my work so much.”
We had the pleasure of interviewing Laura for February's newsletter, read more below. She knows what art can mean to an interior designer’s vision, and she loves being able to help bring that vision to life.
LAX Theme Building (1961), designed by Paul R. Williams (Photo: "monkeytime | brachiator"/Flickr)
Honoring Black History Month
February is also a time for us to celebrate Black History Month, which honors African Americans' contributions. And this most definitely includes their successes in the interior design industry. From Harold Curtis Brown, considered among the first Black interior designers, and Brigette Romanek, a sought-after designer today, to architect Paul Revere Williams, who is largely responsible for designing some of the most iconic homes and buildings in southern California, there have been so many incredibly talented Black interior designers and architects on projects all around the globe who have impacted our industry and continue to do so.
Please take a moment to explore the exceptional talents we have spotlighted below and celebrate interior designers and architects who have helped improve our industry through style and innovation.
Williams began designing homes and commercial buildings in the early 1920s. By the time he died in 1980, he had created some 2,500 buildings, most of them in and across Los Angeles and around the globe. And he did it as a pioneer! Williams was African American and the first Black architect to become a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923. In 1957, he became the first Black member to be inducted into the AIA's College of Fellows. An April 2, 1957 letter from the Executive Secretary of AIA offered Williams the honor of Fellowship and membership in the College of Fellows "for your notable contribution in Public Service."
Considered among the first Black American interior designers, from what we do know, was Brown. Educated at the Boston School of Fine Arts and the New School of Design, Brown decorated for a period in Paris, then ran an art store in Washington, D.C., before settling in New York and designing nightclubs.
Romanek Design Studio was founded by Romanek, one of Los Angeles’ most sought-after interior designers. She’s featured in Architectural Digest’s “AD 100,” 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, which features their picks for the 100 top designers worldwide. She was also chosen for Elle Decor’s “A-List” in 2020 and 2021, as well as the 1st Dibs “50” List. Her star-studded client list includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce, Demi Moore, and Joe Jonas, to name a few. Romanek is proud to lead a team of dedicated designers and professionals who share her passion for design and excitement for innovation. More on Brigette!
Spring Market 2023 is sooner than you think! Now is the perfect time to begin planning your trip. Map out your travel details now so you can make the most of your visit to the home of home furnishings.
Registration is now open for the Spring High Point Market, so don’t miss out on your chance to participate in this one-of-a-kind event. Scheduled for April 22-26 in High Point, North Carolina, this market can help you:
•Transform your business in less than a week.
•Keep your business and perspective fresh.
•Meet multiple interior designers in one place.
•Learn from some of the smartest people in our industry.
•Snag a look at all things interior design, from the essentials to the exquisite.
•Create an environment where everyone can flourish.
Laura Lloyd Fontaine is no stranger to the world of interior design. In fact, her mother, the late Muffy Lloyd, was a famous interior designer in the 1970s when the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center—or ADAC—first opened.
“Everyone knew my mother,” Fontaine shares. “She was adorable and fabulous, most well known for decorating the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta back in the day.”
Founded in 1887, the club’s name reflected the members' interest in "driving" their horses and carriages on the club grounds in downtown Atlanta.
Today, Piedmont Driving Club's facilities include golf, tennis, platform tennis, squash, swimming, exercise facilities, massage, casual and fine dining, and event space.
And it was Fontaine’s mother who inspired her to become the artist she is today, painting stunning landscapes she describes as contemporary traditional impressionism.
“As a child, it was just so wonderful to be around so much talent,” she says. “My mother always had beautiful paintings, and she and my dad would go over to Europe, buy art, buy antiques, bring them back, and sell them to her clients.”
Initially, her mother encouraged her to be an interior designer, following in her footsteps, but she wanted to pursue a different path and found one at just four years old.
“My mother had taken me to a little daycare school, and they would try to rotate the children from one learning station to the next, but I did not want to leave the easel,” Fontaine recalls. “I had my little apron on with my colors and brushes, and I remember when the teacher was talking to my mother in front of me, she said, ‘I can’t get her away from the easel.’ My mother said, ‘I guess we have an artist that is blooming,’ and I decided at that point, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew that I wanted to 'be an artist.’"
Fontaine admits that it’s crazy to have her profession figured out at such a young age, but she knew she would be an artist no matter what.
“This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” she says. “Even when I go on vacation, I take an easel to paint .”
From Water Color to Faux Finishes
Fontaine attended an all-girls liberal arts school after high school in the late 1970s—Hollins College, now Hollins University, in Roanoke, Virginia. During visits back home in Atlanta throughout college, her mother would ask her to paint blue and white porcelain arrangements.
“I would paint them in watercolor and sell them,” she says. “I did this through college, and I know I easily sold 500 paintings during that time.”
After graduating from college, while Fontaine was living in Philadelphia, attending the University of the Arts, and selling watercolors through antique stores, Fontaine’s mother called to tell her about an opportunity in Great Neck, New York, in which she could take master classes on faux finishing.
“That broadened my awareness of paints and mediums, from Venetian plaster to glazes that you could use with feather brushes and making it look like marble,” Fontaine says. “That was so popular in the 80s, I was able to do that for the next ten years.”
She then relocated to Atlanta, switching from painting with watercolor to faux finishing, and had an opportunity to work with her sister, an interior designer, and friends who were interior designers.
“Designers would bring me fabric swatches and say they needed the walls to tie in with the fabrics, which was very easy for me to layer the glazes,” Fontaine says. “That’s how I learned to develop painting with oils now because I paint on Venetian plaster, and I use glazes. My career has built on one thing after the next.”