Contributed by: Vanessa De Vargas, decor8 West Coast Correspondent.
I was at a store opening in Venice, California and I was introduced to interior designer Kishani Perera of Fuse-id. Kishani?s look is timeless and so well executed. Within her interiors, she has an ability to place unexpected design elements that never seem totally obvious. Such a wonderful design trait. I hope that you enjoy my interview with Kishani and continue to watch her career as a designer. Enjoy. – Vanessa
Kishani: I?ve always been obsessed with design, but didn?t always realize it! When I was young, I would redesign my room over and over again, paint the walls different colors at every whim, take salvage out of the garage that I would reinvent into ?art?, and attempt to refinish/ reupholster vintage things that I picked up at the local thrift shop. This design bug followed me into my college years, where in between classes I would go from dorm to dorm, helping friends out with their ?design? needs. So after college, when I was not quite sure what career path to pursue, everyone in my life kept telling me that I should go into interior design — it seemed so obvious to everyone but me! I decided to take their advice and try out a class at the UCLA interior design and architecture program, just to see what I thought. From the very first day I was hooked! I went on to work with some great designers in the consequent years who taught me a great deal, until ultimately I started my own company 4 years ago.
Vanessa: What’s your favorite color to work with and why?
Kishani: I love all colors, so that?s a hard one! But if I had to pick, I would have to say that I enjoy working with shades of grey. I feel like grey is the new beige, a great neutral that brings balance to a room and also allows vibrant accents to really pop.
Vanessa: What color/texture/material combinations do you see using in the future?
Kishani: With the Green movement gaining such momentum in the design world, and with the concept becoming more and more mainstream, I foresee clients requesting that I incorporate more eco friendly materials and products into their projects.
Vanessa: What are your greatest sources of inspiration?
Kishani: I find inspiration all around me — anything from fashion, nature, art, fabrics, people and places, I never know what will trigger that light bulb! Some of the most interesting ideas I?ve had, have been inspired by the most seemingly mundane of things.
Kishani: Two of my favorite designers are Tony Duquette and Muriel Brandolini who are both eclectic and fearless in their designs.
Vanessa: Describe your design theory in 4-6 words.
Kishani: High-end hip meets flea market chic
Vanessa: What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space?
Kishani: A touch of whimsy
Vanessa: If you could redo any space, past or present, what would it be?
Kishani: Hmmm, more than one specific space, there are areas I would love to work on. I would love to be involved in the revitalization of parts of Los Angeles, such as the Historic West Adams District. This area specifically is one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A. and home to one of the largest groups of historic buildings in the West. There are so many architecturally stunning structures that are in desperate need of TLC. All I can think about while driving through these neighborhoods is what I would do to restore these homes to their original grandeur if given the opportunity!
Vanessa:. What have you learned about having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Kishani: There?s so much! Mainly, I wish I had known in the beginning how much actual business (accounting, detail, paperwork, book keeping, contracts, etc.) was involved in the interior design world. I was incredibly naive, I thought it would be all about the creative process and all I would do is shop all day long! The reality of my day to day is quite far from my young imaginings!
Vanessa: What are your best practices when it comes to client relations?
Kishani: It is vital to always be honest with your clients, even if it means you have to tell then something you know they don?t want to hear. Also, you have to really listen to what they?re saying. At times as a designer you almost have to read between the lines and virtually interpret, because sometimes a client has difficulty putting their expectations into words.
Vanessa: What 5 things does a well designed home need?
Kishani: Personality, first and foremost, practicality/functionality, warmth, comfort and color.
Vanessa: If you hadn’t become a designer, what do you think you would be doing now?
Kishani: Probably one, or a combination, of the following — a decorative painter, photographer, writer or vintage furniture shop owner.
Vanessa: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Kishani: I?d like to grow my business to include offices in a few locations across the country and develop a custom furniture line which I would sell, along with fabulous vintage finds, out of a little shop somewhere.
Thank you so much Vanessa for this interview. For those who aren’t familiar with Vanessa, she drops in on Fridays to contribute a post on decor8. She’s an accomplished interior design and showroom owner based out of Los Angeles; click here to learn about her life as a designer.
(images: living room magazine photos by holly Becker for decor8, all others: grey bedroom and blue/grey living room: troy house; living room w/ wooden beams, pink/grey living room, pink stripe bathroom: jean randazzo.)
I’d like to devote the next few days to featuring images that inspire me, ones that I think best fit my design aesthetic, whatever that is – I still don’t know. I was trying to describe it to my friend yesterday and she said I sound like Lily Allen in the beginning of this video as I attempted to sum up my style. I think she’s right. But perhaps another pal of mine recently nailed it with Crack House Chic. Not! More on that below. So let’s first look at the abode of Liza Giles who works as a senior stylist for Designers Guild London. It’s very much the style I fell in love with 12 years ago in London and one that I’ve stuck close by ever since.
Looking with lust at her very hot flat, shown here in the Swedish Elle Interior (my copy above, thanks to Tess), I’ve enjoyed examining all the details, thinking of ways I could be more imaginative as a designer myself. I recently shared some of my favorite images and books with a native New Englander and she didn’t share my enthusiasm as she referred to spaces like Liza’s (shown here) as, “Crack House Chic”. I was both amused and offended. Is that how some perceive such spaces? Like a run down crack den with a touch of glam? How sad!
When I see industrial bits combined with feminine details like embroidered lampshades or handmade quilts in bold prints, I coo in delight. An old wood coffee table with a few pale stains from coffee cups topped with a gorgeous Asian teapot filled with peonies, I’m all over it. White slipcovered sofas sprinkled with velvet worn pillows in fuchsia and teal, sounds like a place to spend the afternoon. But a crack den? This comment left me a bit frustrated, but also enlightened because I mistakenly assumed that most people envy such spaces and even if they wouldn’t live in them, they still appreciated such design. But many of my real life American friends don’t get why this style is attractive to me. Perhaps that’s why most magazines here shun this look for the most part and precisely why so many of us “alternative crack den types” love British, Australian, Dutch, and Scandinavian glossies because sin dens filled with heroine addicts lounging in their less than Ethan Allenified digs attract us.
I see these rooms as creative, inspiring, playful, romantic and filled with a sense of history and personal style. I don’t imagine doing lines on the marble table. I don’t envision myself passed out for days fully dressed in the lovely clawfoot bathtub. Liza Giles’ pad was not only featured here in Swedish mag Elle Interior, but also in UK glossy Elle Decoration. But surprise! not yet featured in US Elle Decor. Interesting, huh? Does the average American look at these spaces as undesirable and run down? I mean, in a land where symmetry and establishing focal points are still all the rage, along with chocolate and robin’s egg blue, I guess I can see why.
What I love about this look: Classic combined with trendy finds and flea market scores. Bright white walls with amazing color dotted around the space, single walls decked out with a bold paper, all the prints and texture everywhere, lavish materials (silk, velvet, trims), and the whole bohemian beauty that feels so uncomplicated, casual, artsy, and most of all inviting.
Some can call it Crack House Chic if they want, but I call it wonderful, beautiful, and elegant. I’ll take it and live happily ever after in complete ecstasy – not the drug, the feeling. :)
I think I could go on blogging about the things I discovered in Stockholm forever – and I only visited for 4 days! I can’t imagine spending a year or even a lifetime there, it seems the design well is never dry – there’s always something new and exciting to learn about. I found out about Anna Irinarchos recently because I spotted her Magnet pendant light in a magazine (I think the Swedish Elle) and thought it was so cool because it’s magnetic, so you can personalize it however you’d like.
After clicking around on her site, I then discovered that she is one half of a design firm called wis design, with lots of additional products. Like this gorgeous piece. Double-drool.
I identified it immediately due to Emma who blogged about it recently, it’s called the Decades chest of drawers (thanks, Emma!) It was made using discarded drawers found at flea markets. Is this a great idea or what? I think it’s very Wary Meyers, I can see them looking for street castaways in New York and pulling together something like this. It’s also very Anthro. I wonder if this dresser will end up in a future catalog? I think Anthro buyers frequently hop planes to Scandinavia sourcing for products and inspiration because as I strolled Stockholm, I could see them selling just about everything I found there. And can you blame them? There is so much beauty and innovative design, especially in Sweden, Anna Irinarchos and Wis Design is just another example of this fact.
(images from anna irinarchos and wis design)
Yowsah! Have you heard of German designer Lars Contzen? He believes that, ?Decor expresses a feeling for life” and with an extensive client list and a whole slew of eye-popping products ranging from furniture to rugs, tableware, and wallpaper, I think you’ll clearly see the feeling he’s trying to express. Joy. Happiness. Fresh and full of life. With bold geometrics in groovy kaleidoscopic colors, his surface designs are futuristic and a far cry from shy.
His fab faux bois bench in hot pink has my attention, especially against hardwood flooring, I’d love to see one in a hallway with colorful rubber boots beneath it and a huge frameless mirror directly above with a white shelf floating directly below the mirror. I see the wall in a happy yellow – we could call the hallway Pink Lemonade inspired by these ladies, what do you think? And for the ultimate statement, a medium sized disco ball pendant light so I can crank a little Walk It Out Fosse, of course. Or Abba.
Which leads me to ask lighting designers around the world – why aren’t you designing a pendant light that looks like a disco ball? I don’t get it. I can even design it for you, I have so many ideas but imagine a disco ball with the bottom 1/4 chopped off, hollow inside, with a light bulb for illuminating through the clear (or iridescent) glass mosaic tiles on the exterior. I mean, hello designers we could totally do this. The world needs these things. Maybe it could have an extra mechanism where you could flick a switch and it would throw out a little strobe light action for when you entertain friends. Okay tacky. But fun. Otherwise, it’s basically a light fixture every other time. I’m totally disappointed that someone isn’t out there with one already. I’d totally buy it if it were done right (not kitschy and cheap). But I digress, back to Lars Contzen and his fabulousness. Here’s some more eye candy from his kick butt portfolio.
(images from lars contzen)
Ready to be totally inspired? I recently mentioned Anne Wendlandt, also known as Enna, promising that if she allowed me to take photos of her new shop here in Hannover that I would share them with you. Well, I met the lovely Anne today and spent time with her visiting her shop/work studio and I walked away with a skip in my step because I felt so inspired by this young, talented artist.
She used regular flat latex paint in her favorite colors and created a stencil by hand that she applied to the wall to repeat the pattern. Clever!
Anne is so nice and open, very easy to talk to and so excited about being a part of a design blog as she is just starting to explore the whole world of blogging and selling online so I’m just as thrilled to talk about her work here on decor8.
She has an etsy store, a DaWanda shop, and a store on her website. In addition to all of this, she creates many things by hand, she’s a talented illustrator, and a graphic designer along with a shop owner, so Anne is a busy lady. I’m so excited to share her store with you because there are so many little details and pretty things to tell you about. Would you like to know more? Okay, here’s a little tour.
Here are some of her fabrics and the handmade rubber stamps she uses for her designs. She told me how to make handmade stamps, so I’m quite excited to give it a try. I may ask her if I can take a class with her, I’d love to learn a few things from her to apply as a hobby, there’s so many fun things to do to personalize your space.
What does Anne design? I guess a better question is, what doesn’t this girl do? :) She does so much. She crafts earrings out of polymer clay that she then hand paints, she designs postcards, pillows, shirts, hoodies, and onesies for baby, plates, iron-on patches, wrapping paper, softies, marketing materials for her business, her website, the signage on the window of her shop, the list goes on and on. She is inspired by so much, she certainly doesn’t want to limit herself to just one thing.
These are plates that she found at a second hand store, and after cleaning them up, she applied her illustrations to them and displays them as art in her shop. I asked if she’d consider selling them to me, so I’m awaiting her decision because she’d not been asked before. I encouraged her to consider creating more and selling them in her shop and online, I really think people would like to own these.
She also sells items from etsy sellers that she loves and Japanese products, so this shop has lots of pretty things to look at and purchase. She’s expecting an order of goodies from Japan any day now, so I will have to return to Enna to see her new stock once it arrives, of course! Who can resist Japanese zakka cuteness?
This is her new wrapping paper, don’t you love the pattern? This folksy style is really big right now, especially these Russian dolls called matryoshkas. They’ve been in all the magazines for the past 6 months, you can’t help but notice a trend here. Between Asian prints, African patterns, and folk-inspired patterns from Russia and Poland, there’s something for everyone this season. Oh, by the way, you can buy this wrapping paper from her for only $4 on etsy if you’d like. I grabbed a sheet today, I want to line my desk drawer with it. Here’s some of my loot from today…
(images by holly + thorsten becker for decor8)