News and Events » design talks Thu, 01 Sep 2016 15:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Interview with Anna Kovalchenko Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:03:59 +0000 Anna Kovalchenko is a russian interior designer, owner of the design blog L’Essenziale Home Designs, writer for Architectural Digest Russia and with an upcoming interior project in Bahrain. Anna shared with us her design philosophy and inspiration, as well a very clear and interesting picture of the design industry in Russia.

Between questions and answers, you’ll find some images of one of Anna’s project as interior designer/decorater.

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1. As an Interior Designer, how would you describe your style? Do you have a signature touch?

I would describe it as «eclectic» and «bohemian» – I like gathering different things of various styles and origin, mixing east and west, old and new… I am a big fan of vintage and handmade items: according to me they have this «soulfulness» which is so hard to define, but which gives life and personality to any space, so wherever possible I try to incorporate them.

2. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Travel is the big source of inspiration for me. Wherever I go I take my camera with me and take pictures of everything that caught my attention – whether it is unusual combination of colours, beautiful architecture or interesting pattern on a dress… I love visiting antique shops, local bazaars and flea markets and my home is full of interesting objects which I brought from all over the world.

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3. Travek is one of the most enriching experiences for a designer. Talking about designers, who’s your biggest design reference?

I have several, actually, Christopher Hall, Axel Vervoordt, Kelly Hoppen, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Sera Hersham-Loftus, just to name a few.

4. What do you love about being an interior designer?

I like everything about my job: from the first time I meet with clients and we discuss what they would like to have, to the moment when they see the finished project and I can see from their eyes that they love it (this part is of course the most exciting).

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5. From interior designers to furniture design. Which colours, textures and techniques do you prefer in furniture design?

I like bold and eye-catching accent pieces – something which is impossible not to notice, when you enter the room. I always loved handmade furniture made by skillful artisans and from natural materials – wood, stone, natural textiles for upholstery.

7. Which design brands do you love the most? And why?

Baker Furniture, Ralph Pucci, Koket, Brabbu – these brands produce furniture that I can describe with just two words «timeless elegance».

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8. From editor to editor, once you also write for AD Russia and you have your own blog “L’Essenziale Home Designs”. What can design lovers find in your articles?

My articles for AD are mainly about interior design trends, new interesting products and emerging talents, while on L’Essenziale Blog I tend to be more personal and share with my readers the projects I am currently busy with, my design musings and inspirations. I want my blog to be not only visually appealing (there are plenty of other design blogs that mainly focus on images of beautiful interiors only), but useful and interesting in terms of content, so in every post I try to give some practical design tips, tricks and advice.

10. What are the biggest challenges that you find working as an interior designer in Russia?

The biggest challenge is that Russia has always lagged behind Europe in terms of design: this refers not only to materials and furniture that is currently in trend here and there, but also the mindset of people. Luckily with the access to the Internet more and more people are well aware of world trends and don’t want to recreate in their tiny apartments Versaille Palace with golden taps, rocaille furniture and silk velvet, which here in Russia in the 90s and early 2000s were considered to be signs of luxury and well-being.

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12. Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about? Any new projects?

Next month I am planning to work on one residential project in Bahrain. I am very excited about it, as was always fascinated and mesmerized by Arabic culture, so this project will give me opportunity to soak it in, which will definitely influence the look of interiors that I am going to create.

13. What you think about Brabbu’s style? What kind of projects you think that BRABBU products will fit better?

Brabbu’s style is contemporary yet timeless, very posh but at the same time very classic and elegant. Brabbu pieces will perfectly suit contemporary minimalistic interiors in cosmopolitan style. They are also very versatile in terms that they will successfully fit both residential and commercial spaces.

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Interview with Michelle Jennings Tue, 02 Jun 2015 14:29:35 +0000 Michelle Jennings Wiebe is president and founder of Studio M, specializing in sophisticated luxury interiors since 1991. Her work has been featured in national newspapers and magazines, and she also writes home features for the Tampa Bay Times, serves on the Board of Interior Design at Florida State University, speaks on design and social media, and is editor of M}Pression, the Studio M design blog.

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• When did you realize that interior design was your passion, and how would you describe your style?

Honestly, I’ve always been very into interior design for as long as I can remember.  I grew up in a historic home built in the 1800s in a small town in Ohio. My grandparents owned it before my parents did, and I was quite enthralled when my grandfather let my grandmother hire a “decorator from the big city!” I loved seeing the transformation of this house from tired to beautiful!

I also spent a lot of my time as a child drawing floor plans and elevations, decorating my Barbie houses, and spending time in multiple art classes. My love increased during high school with more art and drafting classes. Upon graduation, I knew I wanted to study Interior Design. I chose Florida State University and graduated, loving every minute of it!

My style would have to be a mix of coastal chic with an eclectically modern edge.  Florida is a great place to express myself creatively, being that it’s near the beach and home to some really progressive clients who love to have homes with modern designs and amenities that are sure to impress their visitors and guests.

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• Who or what has been your biggest style influence?

Inspiration comes from many sources, but travel provides new creativity and refreshment. I find a lot of design inspiration from the ocean, the rugged cliffs and trees, and the charming architecture of a beach community! The tranquil setting also is perfect for complete renewal and recharging.

Other than that, fashion, architecture, books, magazines, and art inspire me. I also have to say that I’ve been spending a lot of time in NYC, and that definitely energizes my creativity. It’s that “Empire State of Mind.”

My style heroes of the past include Dorothy Draper (a trailblazing great decorator), Grace Kelly and Jackie O (for their infinite grace and style), and Florence Knoll (incredible furniture designs).

Today, I am enamored with the fashion designers Diane von Furstenberg (for a still relevant 40 year design career, now including interiors) and Tory Burch (for an incredible “real clothes” fashion empire), Kelly Wearstler (for her risk taking and bold design), and Candice Olsen (for putting chic design on TV).

• How did you come up with the Studio M interior design concept?

Thinking back, the actual concept of my own design firm must have started while I was in college at Florida State University, although I feel like it’s always been in the back of my mind even before that.  I was lucky to be able establish Studio M in 1991 as a way to make a living for myself, at the same time having a fun and creative outlet to express myself.

I feel truly blessed that Studio M has become one of Florida’s premiere interior design firms, and we’re continually making strides to grow and improve every day!

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• Working in such distinctive metropolitan areas (NY, LA, FL), what are the biggest challenges you find using your “Michelle Jennings Wiebe” signature style?

Working in multiple metropolitan areas, I’d have to say that my biggest challenge using my signature style would have to be spending as much time with my clients as I’d like.  I love orchestrating the perfect design style for their lifestyle and passions, so spending time getting to know them and figuring out their likes and dislikes is essential.  It’s both intriguing and rewarding to get to know them and learn about their individual life stories!

In short, jet setting and spending as much quality time with my clients as I’d like, (while simultaneously managing a full service design firm and being a mom and wife at home) would have to be my biggest because there are only 24 hours in a day!

However, I do have to admit that I love to travel and visit with my clients, and I truly enjoy when that becomes part of any particular project that I’m working on.

• What’s the best interior design advice you can give to a beginner interior designer?

Be passionate and curious about learning and getting involved in everything design related. Work hard and strive toward excellence.  And above all else, be yourself and not someone else.

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• Where do you see your company in five years?

Recently, I have set some new industrious career goals for both our firm and myself.

First, our firm is very enthusiastic about doing more interior design work outside of Florida; it is our intent to branch out into more national projects, and even international ones!

Second, we would like to design and license our own line of designer home items. We have some great ideas for bedding, area rugs, and furnishings; we are still looking at which avenue to pursue.

Third, I’d like to write a design book and get published; this has been a dream since childhood. I’ve actually begun the initial process on this so needless to say, these are exciting times at Studio M!


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