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Design Watch: Top 5 Things We Heard at WNWN 2023

In this edition, we’re revealing our favorite moments from WNWN and the things designers said that just stuck!

“You’re in their underwear drawer” – Steph Viesta, Studio Seva

Verellen’s event, Design your Future: Navigating Industry Challenges and Making Wise Choices for Young Creatives, was a powerful conversation about how to operate your business and properly educate yourself and your clients alike to get the most out of the design process. Moderator Kathryn Richardson asked Lauren Waldorf, Steph Viesta, and Thomas Verellen tough questions surrounding the topics of sustainability, saying no, building relationships with vendors, and more! When discussing the importance of creating a strong, trusting relationship with your client, Steph Viesta chimed in saying “You’re in their underwear drawer!” As a designer, you’re granted backstage access to every nook and cranny of your client’s life and there needs to be that mutual understanding and respect between the both of you in order to make it work. This trust then leads to effective communication, making it possible to design the space they’re envisioning in their head. And at the end of the day, that’s what you’re there for!

“Green is the new neutral” – Dabito

Are we finally moving away from gray’s reign in interior design? If you ask me, after taking a stroll through Living By Design’s Virtual Showhouse, I’d say we’re in the midst of a vibrant revolution! Designers Dabito and Will Taylor sat down with Hadley Keller of Design Leadership Network to discuss their design processes for creating an entirely virtual dream space. Picture this: 18 rooms, 12 designers, and one metaverse. You’d think it could turn into a design mosh pit, right? But no, there was an enchanting cohesiveness that wove itself throughout the home. When asked how this was so seamlessly achieved, Dabito emphasized the importance of carrying elements throughout different spaces, specifically, color. “Green is the new neutral,” he said. If you think about it, green is nature’s neutral; all the more reason to bring it into our homes. Playing with different shades and textures brought dimension and charisma to the space. He sprinkled hints of green everywhere, from a green bedroom door to green crown molding, and even green striped towels in the bathroom. Dabito and Will worked together to bring this continuity from inside to out. Will designed the outside of the home where he filled both the front porch and pool surroundings with plants galore. He also created a beautiful outdoor shower with forest green tiling and gold accents, very similar to what Dabito designed for the Guest Room Bathroom. Check out a full virtual tour of the house here!

“Do you want me to facilitate that or interpret that?” – David Frazier

The Gallery at 200 Lex hosted a trio of up-and-coming industry professionals to chat about their journey in the design world. Allegra O. Eifler, David Frazier, and Peter Dolkas, FREDERIC It List honorees, really know what’s it in today’s ever-evolving design landscape! A large part of this conversation revolved around working with clients and knowing the right questions to ask. One of David Frazier’s key methods in deciphering what a client is looking for is to start out with a mood board or inspirational photo. Once that’s in play, he asks this very insightful question: “Do you want me to interpret that or facilitate that?” He goes on to explain that there can be stark differences between replicating what the client shows him versus recreating his own version of it. This methodology of questioning allows you to weed out exactly what the client is looking to get out of this interaction. Maybe they’re just looking for someone to make the process easier; they know what they want and they want you to source everything for them. Or maybe they have room for a little creative interpretation and are open to new ideas. Either way, it’s essential as a designer to know why you’re there and set the right expectations.

“When traveling, stay at the local hotel, not the five-star one” – Mary McDonald

The influence of travel on design is undeniable. Exploring new countries, cities, and cultures can be one of the biggest sources of inspiration. Mary McDonald has traveled all over the world from India to Portugal to Egypt, and continues to describe how her experiences spill over into her designs. With Mary being a luxury interior designer, one might assume that she’s staying at five-star hotels. But, Mary actually prefers finding accommodations that are more closely connected to the true culture of the city. Opting for a local, idiosyncratic hotel allows her to immerse herself in the authentic atmosphere of what’s around her. On a broader scale, this idea signifies a willingness to step out of your comfort zone and view the world from a different perspective. This approach aligns perfectly with the essence of interior design, which is all about creating spaces that reflect the unique character and spirit of their inhabitants. Mary’s advice encourages designers to seek genuine, unfiltered experiences in their travels. It urges us to explore the hidden gems, embrace local craftsmanship, and uncover design elements that may not be found in the polished, international hotel chains. By doing so, we gain a deeper understanding of regional aesthetics, materials, and design philosophies that can be integrated into our own work.

“White doesn’t compete with nature” – Billy Ceglia

Outdoor living has shifted its focus to creating functional, sustainable, and personalized spaces that can be enjoyed year-round. They offer a versatile extension of your home, enabling you and your guests to enjoy socializing in nature. Brown Jordan hosted a panel with Billy Ceglia, Cara Woodhouse, and Mario Nievera about how maximizing our outdoor spaces has changed the way we live. Each designer has their own unique style and way of bringing their projects to life. While Billy Ceglia’s color choice may not be groundbreaking, he sure makes a good case for it. Billy’s go-to is white outdoor furniture: “White doesn’t compete with nature.” He explains how his goal isn’t to create something that distracts from the beauty of the outdoors but to design with it in mind and effortlessly blend everything together. Billy tries to instill the biggest impact with the fewest ingredients. A clean, white space does just that. This still leaves space for pops of color in accent pieces, throw pillows, and table accessories to come through and reflect the homeowner’s style. His advocacy for the timeless elegance of white furniture serves as a reminder that sometimes, the most powerful design statements are made through graceful simplicity.

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