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New York City Interior Designer Kammi Reiss Knows the Story of What It Takes to Succeed in the Design Business | S25E7

How are our interior design business colleagues and friends in New York City faring through all this craziness? That’s the first question host Nick May asks our guest Kammi Reiss, founder and president of Manhattan-based Kammi Reiss Design, in this episode of The Chaise Lounge podcast

“So far, I think we are doing well. People are keeping their distance and staying in. So far, I think we’re really coming together. We’ve done that a number of times through the years—too many times here in the City—but we’re really good at it. We all need to get on board and keep each other safe.”

As avid travelers, all of us in the interior design community are eager to get back moving and coming together at shows and events around the world—but for now #NO_FOMO because we are ALL in this together. 

We are still, always, privileged to be connected to you here in The Chaise Lounge. We deeply appreciate your joining us here to listen and learn from each other. 

Until we meet again, we invite you to follow us on on Instagram (@thechaiselounge) and be part of the conversation…and solution. 

Kammi Reiss Q & A

Interior designer Kammi Reiss grew up in Potomac, Maryland, a picturesque “ride your bike to school” kind of suburb of Washington, D.C. She spent summer vacations on the Delaware beaches, and cherishes the memory of being given a dollar to go up on the boardwalk and get French fries and play pinball. Her weeks on the beach were filled with “good old-fashioned fun,” like charades at night and lots of soft ice cream. The kind of diversions—like playing flashlight tag and chasing fireflies—that Nick remembers as “good kid fun.” 

What’s Your Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant?

Kammi’s husband, who has MS, deals with the symptoms of fatigue: “So the idea of cooking and being at home all the time…we have got this down,” says Kammi, laughing. “We’re already experts at it. 

 “We mostly stay home and I cook,” she continues, “but when we do go out there’s a great neighborhood spot across the street from us. During the day it’s sort of a grab-and-go spot. But in the evenings, it turns into a nightspot with great burgers and wings. It’s called Night Shift and we love to spend time there. They also make some really good cocktails.”

What’s the last thing you bought for your house?

“Fresh flowers. I feel it’s really important to have things that are living and bring color. I have a muted palette and flowers are the perfect way to bring color and seasonal accents into the home. 

“The place that I think does the most beautiful job of that is in Paris, at the George V: They’ve got a big entry table that is overflowing with flowers. And they change it regularly. Every time, it is a feast for the eyes.”

Favorite Fashion Accessory: Jewelry that Tells a Story

“I have one necklace that I don’t ever take off. It’s called ‘Eleven Wishes.’ It’s made by my friend Melissa, whose company is called Devon Woodhill. It’s tiny little diamond drops on a necklace. I was married on November 11th—the eleventh day of the eleventh month—and it reminds me of that. Subsequently, I got one for each of my daughters, my sister, and my mom and we all wear them. So it tells a story and reminds me of what is important to me.” 

Beer, Wine, or Cocktail?

“Any cocktail with tequila in it. Preferably spicy. Maybe a Paloma, some grapefruit and a little bit of jalepeno muddled in there.” 

When Did the Interior Design Bug Bite?

“My tendencies date way, way back. To my parents’ dismay. 

“I was probably 11 years old. For the holidays, all I wanted were these Marimekko comforters. My mother couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that that would be something that she should get me as a gift. But I begged and pleaded. They are still in my mother’s house to this day. They look like Matisse cutouts and I was so drawn to them. 

“I wanted my room to be almost like a Matisse collage would be. I convinced my parents to let me get rid of all my furniture except my beds. My father helped me build shelves in my closets—this was the days before California Closets and the like. I had an all-white room with these beautiful, artful comforters.”

Listen up, English Majors: Design Tells a Story

“I went to the University of Michigan and studied English. But I was always interested in design and spent all my optional classes at the art school. I love to read, and I love a good story. I love the different ways stories can be told. I love listening to different peoples’ voices and hearing life experiences through different lenses. 

“That’s what design can do also: It can really tell a story.” 

First Break: Straight to Elle Décor

“It was 1989 and Elle Décor existed in France, but they didn’t have a US edition. I was hired to be on that staff, on the editorial side. We were eight people. And I was just ‘the’ assistant. It was really bare bones. And that was the beginning.

“I had the great good fortune of having an amazing boss who taught me how to do his job, which was both great for me—because I got to learn how to be a photo editor—and great for him. Because when things would come up and he would need to be in two places, he could. I could be in one place for him and he could be in another place. 

“That has always stayed with me: Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and want to help you grow. And also, in the case of people who work for me, I need to fill their confidence so we can be a stronger, better team.” 

Marketing: Photography Is Key, Stories are Essential

“Coming from an editorial background informed my perspective on how valuable editorial can be.

“I also understand how important relationships in editorial are. So part of what I bring to this is an understanding that it’s not just about my work. It’s also how my work looks in pictures.

“Pictures are really important right now—now more than ever.  We have to show our work in small images, like on Instagram, and there’s nothing that does that better than good photography.”

“It’s also important to have a caption that tells a story of how the design came to be.

 “You read the story, and that’s really important.” 

The Drive to Succeed: It All Begins with a Story

“My grandma would drive us around in the evening, and she would say, ‘Pick a window.’ And we would pick a window and she would tell us a story of the people who lived in that window.”

Learn more about Kammi Reiss Design at KammiReissDesign.com  You can also DM Kammi on Instagram (@kammireissdesign) or email her at kammi@kammireissdesign.com (she said it’s OK!!)

Part of what I bring to this is that it’s not just about my work: It’s about how my work looks in pictures. Pictures are really important now—now more than ever.

NYC interior designer Kammi Reiss, former Elle Décor magazine photo editor and founder of Kammi Reiss Design Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.


Upcoming Markets

HDExpo | Cancelled for 2020 season

ICFF | Cancelled for 2020 season

High Point Market | June 12-14

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

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