Maria reached out to me recently to be featured on her blog - love the opportunity to share my story and inspire others to pursue their dreams! Check out our conversation below or head over to her blog
Q: How did you get into interior design? Did you always know you wanted to be an interior designer?
A: I always knew I wanted to do something creative – I was a dancer growing up and studied Art History at UCLA which had an emphasis on modern art and architecture.
After a quick stint in the art world, I moved back up to San Francisco and started doing Marketing and PR for an advertising agency. It was a great job but my heart just wasn’t in it. My office was doing a major office move and I was tasked with managing the project- which included handling renovations, selecting furniture and lighting and translating our company’s brand into a physical space.
It was honestly the first time I had ever been excited to go to work. I ultimately hired an interior design firm to finish the project, and the owner of the firm became somewhat of a mentor to me. She gave me great advice- she said to take my technical classes (CAD, Revit) so that I would have basic skills to apply to entry level design positions with, and the rest could likely be learned on the job.
I started freelancing on the side, in the beginning doing projects for free to build my portfolio, and then eventually started doing eDesign through the Decorist, which was such a confidence boost for me professionally, because I was actually getting paid to do what I wanted to do – plus it helped me build my portfolio. I was a huge One Kings Lane fan, and when I heard they were opening a Studio in San Francisco I jumped at the opportunity to be one of their designers.
Q. What’s your favorite aspect of design? And why?
A: I love the transformational process – how a piece of art or furniture can inspire me and then be translated into an entire room.
I also love the process of translating someone’s personality and style into a home- giving people a space that is both beautiful and reflective of their life is so gratifying!
Q: How do you go about designing a room? Does it start with a mood board, a piece of furniture?
A: It totally depends – lots of clients have certain pieces that they want to keep so often times that is where I need to start with and figure out how we can build the room from there. Other times, it may be a certain special item that really sets the room apart- maybe its an amazing piece of art or a vintage rug that I want to use to base the rest of the room off of.
I like to combine different styles and textiles but to do so without making the space feel totally crazy, keeping a consistent color palette is key – one of my favorite tools is honestly good old Powerpoint.
I’ll pull textiles, artwork, and pieces of furniture into a board,so I can see them all together – sometimes in my head things make sense but when you see them side by side its a no-go.
Q: Do you believe one needs schooling in order to pursue design as a career?
A: I think it totally depends what you want to do. Interior Design ie., working at a firm or doing larger commercial project will require training from an accredited school.
If you’re more interested in decor, finishes, furniture and styling, I don’t think its necessary – hands on experience doing projects and working with clients is the best schooling you can get! At the end of the day I think style and taste is something you either have or you don’t – it can’t be taught in a classroom.
Q: What would you recommend to those that want to pursue interior design as a career?
A: Be willing to work for free – style your friends homes, take photos, and start building an online portfolio which you can use to to apply for entry level design jobs. Also- make sure design is a passion, not just a weekend hobby - you likely won't get paid a lot in the beginning, but if you love it, it will totally be worth it!