Gulla Jonsdottir: From Iceland to Los Angeles and beyond
On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Gulla Jonsdottir. Gulla talks about her projects around the world, what her business looks like today, and launching her own furniture line.
Getting to know Gulla
Gulla is originally from iceland, but currently lives in Los Angeles. She moved to the US twenty years ago, since at the time there were no architecture studies in Iceland. Gulla loves champagne and chocolate, going to the spa, and reading. She also enjoys Italian and French wines.
When Did Gulla Become Interested in Interior Design?
When Gulla was twelve years old, she traveled to Florence, Italy with her mother, where she fell in love with the architecture of the city. In addition, her grandfather was an artist. She often drew with him. Gulla studied math and biology in school and later was able to marry her math background with her love of art as she moved into the field of architecture.
After graduating from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Gulla applied for two jobs and received offers from both. She decided to go with Richard Meier and ended up working on the Getty Center project for four years. From there, Gulla has held positions with Disney and Dodd Mitchell Design. In 2009, Gulla took a leap, opened her own company, and has never looked back.
What the Business Looks Like
Currently, Gulla employs nine individuals in Los Angeles and one in Paris. The group handles projects all over the world (LA, New York, China, Lebanon, and Paris to name a few). Projects include exteriors, interiors, furniture, and more. Gulla’s company helps select everything. And if they can’t find it, Gulla creates it, hence her furniture line.
Gulla prefers commercial projects as there are less emotions and more professionalism. She mentioned that the cycle for hospitality projects can last for about two months from winning a bid to starting work and up to four years or beyond the bidding process to opening day.
As a creative, Gulla admitted that she is not the best business person and that every architect should to go to business school. Currently, Gulla employs someone to help with human resources and finance. She said to know your strengths and weaknesses and that it takes a village. Her office space is open and full of like-minded people. It’s like a family.
How to get the word out?
Gulla doesn’t market her company or do business development purposefully. Most projects are from word of mouth, though she employs someone to focus on marketing and branding. Overall, she doesn’t stress about this. Gulla dreams and works hard, then the projects come.
Gulla would love to work on an Olympic stadium. She is inspired by nature and the human body and doesn’t want straight lines. She also would be interested in civic buildings, museums, and skyscrapers.
Learn more at Gulla’s website, Instagram, and Facebook.
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!
2 comments on 106 – Gulla Jonsdottir: From Iceland to Los Angeles and Beyond
Hey Nick, the last 3 shows were awesome – loved Tina & Craig Bunnyfish Studios – brilliant minds, bucket fulls of talent – and they get it done – who wouldn’t want to work with these guys!
Jenny Madden was so honest on the conundrum and responsibility of hiring and growing her firm, I’m sure this resonated with many listeners and (potential) clients – at the end of the day everyone wants to deal with a serious professional and Jenny’s “hard hat” construction hut career start speaks volumes.
Gulla Jonsdottir was referred as the new Zaha Hadid by the Huffington Post – not short of the mark with that quote, perhaps her Nordic genes are at play as she seems utterly fearless but with such a calming presence and faith in her craft. No wonder she’s sought after as one of the industry’s top names. Gulla is also completely real – my son went back packing in Iceland and she sent her sister’s telephone number and address in case he needed anything!
Thanks Andy. Yes, it’s great to meet good designers, but even more fun when they are amazing people! I’m super excited for the year to come. So many great designers.