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New York

107 – Anthony DiGuiseppe’s Journey From the Naval Academy to Interior Design

Anthony DiGuiseppe’s journey from the naval academy to interior design

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, one of the top interior design podcasts, Nick chats with Anthony DiGuiseppe in New York. Anthony talks about his path from a military academy to Pratt, an influential colleague, and tips for hospitality design.

Getting to know Anthony

Anthony’s office is currently on the Upper East Side of New York. He prefers a vodka martini straight up with a twist and loves to spend time at his home in upstate New York, a 1740’s Dutch stone house. Anthony recently read The Tipping Point, where he picked up a sense of where things are going and how to identify life-changing events. He is also a James Bond fan and having Daniel Craig live in a neighboring town isn’t too shabby either!

What the Business Looks Like

Anthony’s interior design,Anthony DiGuiseppe outdoor spa design architecture, and development firm is and has always been small, with a staff of five. He intentionally keeps it small to stay active in both the design and client interactions. Currently, there is a focus on hospitality and multi-family residences, but before that the group worked on residential projects, offices, etc. Anthony mentioned “cross-dressing,” which he defined as hotels wanting to feel like home, but homeowners wanting to feel like a hotel. In addition, consumers no longer have to always go through a designer to get product, so designers now need put it all together to look good and function.

When Did Anthony Become Interested in Interior Design?

As a freshman in high school, Anthony loved art classes and often won awards, specifically for an octagonal house model. He received an A even before he finished it! He then went on to attend school for naval architecture for 2 years, then moved away from the military. It just wasn’t for him.

Anthony didn’t have a portfolio to apply to other schools with so he put one together in his free time. He was accepted at Pratt, but the Architecture program was full. Anthony decided to check out Architectural Engineering.

Upon graduating and securing a job, Anthony started working on historic preservation for the Copihue Museum. There is a glass canopy on the entrance for which he had to come up with the structure.

Soon, Anthony went back to school in the evenings to become an engineer and took a position as interior assistant for Joe D’Urso, who was the most influential person Anthony has worked with. Joe taught him about the aesthetics of design. At the time, there weren’t many architecture jobs for “newbies,” so Anthony started working on interior architecture projects. He liked having his hands in all of the details you can see, feel, and touch.

Spa DiGuiseppeHow to get the word out?

Anthony has attended many conferences for hospitality. These are the places to meet people or even be a speaker. As a speaker, people look at you as the expert. He also made efforts to call and follow up with people he met. As a shy kid growing up, this was tough at first, but as he became more seasoned, he started asked people about themselves to break the ice. People were very friendly, and he became more confident and comfortable in giving advice.

Anthony likes to work on the entire project, not just one aspect. He loves working on spas to promote wellness and healthy living. Boutique properties are his favorite kind of project where the design work shines. Boutiques tell a story either per location or even per room.

Anthony has been in business for thirty-one years, and even though the cash flow and paying the bills still keep him up at night, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, he would like some additional office space and organization, but his clients like the current set-up!

Learn more about Anthony at his website and Facebook.

Wrap Up

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!






99 – Jarret Yoshida: A Philanthropic Interior Designer

Interior Design Jarret Yoshida

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Jarret Yoshida, a philanthropic interior designer. Jarret talks about breaking into the design industry, running his own business, and his passion for working with charities.

Get to know Jarret Yoshida 

Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Jarret has also lived in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and was born and raised in Hawaii. He has loved living in each of these locations for different and unique reasons including the culture, climate, and community. Similarly, Jarret’s favorite vacation spot is Florence, Italy for the beauty of the architecture and design. He and his partner are currently renovating the parlor of their 120+ year old brownstone and are excited to continue the legacy of this historic home.

How did Jarret get into interior design? 

At just seven years old, visiting a family friend, Jarret first remembers being concerned with his surroundings, specifically considering whether cinder block or lava rock would be a better option. Jarret has no formal interior design education, but does possess a double undergrad in East Asian Studies and International Relations, both of which have helped in his design business.

After school Jarret started working in political fundraising. He soon started supplementing his day job with design studies in Paris as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons. He let his donors know of his design interest and got his first job as a Design Assistant through one of these connections. Jarret mentioned that it can take some time to find someone to give you a shot, but recommended being persistent. Within two months of this role, Jarret was thrown into the role of Project Manager and eventually encouraged by a client to start his own firm.

What does Jarret’s business look like today? 

Today, Jarret employs three full time and seven part time associates. And with one associate now in school at FIT, he is seeking a design assistant with a positive attitude and ability to multi-task. Almost all of the firm’s work is residential in Hawaii and New York. With Jarret’s educational background, he is able to source from all over the world for unique items and great pricing. He touches every project.

Challenges in running an interior design business 

Jarret said that the hardest part about running the business is the actual operations: how to invoice, collect money, get paid in full, etc. Without a business background, he has lost more money than he wants to admit, but is learning from it. Jarret is willing to share any mistakes to help others learn. He wants to leave something for someone else to build on. Jarret said that no interior designer can be responsible for a client’s happiness, but they are responsible for delivering on a project.

Charging what you are worth 

Jarret charges the standard rate for his peer group in New York. The market is changing based on information availability online. When there is a pressure to lower rates, the relationship usually never works out. Jarret uses a hybrid model including an hourly rate during the design phase and a fixed model for the rest of the project called Net + 30. Net + 30 means that the Interior Designer charges their net price on an item plus thirty percent of that cost as an administrative fee.

What Jarret loves about owning the business 

In running his own business, Jarret loves being in charge of his own path and steering his own ship. He enjoys learning about himself as a person and a business owner. As the firm rises and falls, so does his self worth and awareness of strengths and weaknesses. Jarret has been able to improve his work-life balance to be more available for his partner, and like Nick, enjoys an afternoon trip to the gym.

Getting the phone to ring 

Jarret works with Kendall at Kennedy Rowe PR, who helps him focus on marketing and networking. In addition, he shared his passion for and interest in non-profits. Jarret is involved with Womankind, The Dream Foundation, Brooklyn Animal Action, and

The American Cancer Society. Not only has this involvement been good for Jarret’s soul, but has also taught him leadership skills and has led to referrals from fellow board members.

To learn more about Jarret, please visit JarretYoshida.com.

Side note…

So after talking with Jarret, while looking over his website, I realized that he worked for one of my favorites!  Daniel Craig!  Yes, Jarret worked for 007 and lived to tell the tail.  While I try not to get too hung up with names and client lists, this one stood out, so I thought I would share.  Click on the image below, and it will take you to Jarret’s portfolio to see more images.

Interior design by Jarret Yoshida

Chaise Lounge Updates

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!

Wrap Up

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!

97 – Alan Tanksley: New York Interior Desinger

Alan Tanksley: New York Interior Designer

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Alan Tanksley, a New York Interior Designer. Alan talks about his killer NYC view, building his business, and the value he sees in PR.

Get to know Alan Tanksley from NYC

Alan Tanksley is dialing in from his desk in New York City, which overlooks Madison Square Park. His favorite room in his house is his bedroom, where he begins and ends his day. Alan also enjoys a meal at his favorite restaurant, The Clock Tower Restaurant. When asked about beer, wine, or a cocktail, Alan responded with, ‘Yes!” as he is a fan of them all: the perfect Manhattan, New Zealand Cabernets, and IPAs. And if he wasn’t an interior designer, Alan thought he may be involved in historic preservation.

How did Alan get into interior design?

Alan grew up in a family with no connection to interior design. He thought he may be an architect, but was weeded out of the program at Arizona State. He then discovered interior architecture, which was perfectly suited for him. After bouncing from Arizona, to San Francisco, Alan eventually ended up in New York where Albert Hadley gave him a shot.

Having Hadley on his resume, led to a position with Mark Hampton. Alan recalled how Mark was a great educator, teaching about the context of design as well as scale and proportion. This combination of school and real life experience is key. Alan mentioned the importance of being nimble and coming up with solutions. These skills are invaluable. Anyone in the service business is a problem solver.

What does Alan’s business look like today?

Today, Alan Tanksley Inc is made up of six employees, which include senior designers, assistant designers, and a business manager. The office is located in New York City in a 19th-century building with a great view of The Flatiron Building. Photos of the office can be found on Alan’s website.

Alan and his team have projects both in NYC and abroad. He mentioned that word of mouth is the ideal business building method. Good clients refer like-minded people. Among other projects, Alan is currently working on high-end residences in the Woolworth building and furniture with Plexicraft.

In discussing his business, Alan mentioned one of the hardest things is keeping all of the balls in the air and switching from one conversation to the next. He is always working to find the balance between stuff that’s not fun and the actual design. Rather than using new apps and technology, Alan attributed much of his organization to the good old Rolodex.

Getting the word out

Alan mentioned that as a business owner, you need to do everything you can to bring in business, like asking for referrals and socializing in the world you want to work for. At this point in his career, Alan’s reputation opens doors. He has also invested in Andrew Joseph PR, and recommends other designers invest in a public relations partner as well. It’s about more than getting photos in magazines but also learning from others on panels and speaking engagements. These types of events help build momentum for the business.

Preparing for the next downturn

Many designers struggled through the last economic downturn, and we could experience the same thing again in the future on a smaller or larger scale. Alan is generating a cushion now to help prevent any tough times in the future. He is whittling down business debt and making sure his credit is in order to have money for a rainy day. He also recommends partnering with a bank to understand your options.

Learn more

To learn more about Alan and his team, please visit Alantanksley.com. He isalso active on Facebook and Instagram. Alan was able to contribute to a recently released book, Interior Design Master Class.

  • Wrap Up

Please click here if you would like to see Benjamin Moore’s upcoming events that Nick mentioned in the beginning of the episode.

And see Nick in real life at the International Association of Home Staging Professionals’ Expo coming up in February and the Design Bloggers Conference in March!

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!

96 – Industry: Interior Design PR and joining getting involved in an Association

Interior Design PR and joining getting involved in an Association

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Andrew Joseph from Andrew Joseph PR, and Phyllis Harbinger jumps in with some tips on getting involved with American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

Getting to know Andrew Joseph from New York (3:55)

Located in New York, Andrew Joseph starts his days around 4am. This ensures he is able to properly service his clients around the world. Andrew also admitted that starting his day so early allows him to indulge in mid-day naps.Few people know that Andrew came from humble beginnings in a small farm community in Oklahoma. If he wasn’t working in public relations, he would likely be a farmer like his sister’s family.

How did Andrew get into public relations? (9:00)

Andrew moved to New York 17 years ago and landed his first job as a  research assistant at Vanity Fair, before moving on to other publications. In these positions, he noticed a great deal of turnover and realized this profession was not right for him. However, while in these jobs, Andrew was able to interact with the public relations departments and fell in love.

Andrew moved on from fashion and found a firm that exclusively represented architects, interior designers, and luxury home furnishings. He mentioned that fashion is ephemeral and moves fast, where interior designif focused on the home that sustains and supports your soul.

What does Andrew’s business look like today? (12:31)

Currently, Andrew Joseph PR employs four individuals full time and additional interns from all walks of life. The team services 15 clients and is on a growth curve. Andrew and his team fulfill about 50% of their clients’ pipelines with traditional public and media relations opportunities including print publications, speaking gigs, etc. However, based on compiling the average number of print opportunities, the team was able to see the limited inventory available, which led to a greater understanding of what they can offer. Andrew Joseph PR is not only a creative resource for magazines, but also provides more non-traditional opportunities for its clients, including social media, blogs, and podcasts.

Andrew really looks to make sure potential clients are the right fit and has even turned clients down. He stated that his company delivers on agreed upon goals and objectives, not just bringing in new business. A few words of wisdom from Andrew include – This is a visual industry. You need a good website, images, branding, and to document your work over time.

If you would like to connect with Andrew:

Associations with Phyllis Harbinger (40:19)

Phyllis has been a member of ASID since 1990, when she joined as a student. She mentioned that serving in associations like ASID, IIDA, NKBA, etc. provide leadership opportunities  and allow you to hone your skills in dealing with all kinds of personalities.

Phyllis was asked to run for president, turned it down, and then later realized that she was interested in the opportunity. She was able to serve as president and now is a chair on the chapter support team at national level where she supports and councils eight presidents. Phyllis has enjoyed unexpected opportunities since being involved in ASID, including: panel discussions, speaking gigs, and even a book deal.

In the beginning, Phyllis volunteered on committees. She found a support system within ASID and developed meaningful relationships. And recommends the same path – Join committees to see how it works and then think about leadership. Get information on available committees and how they support board members. It’s OK to move around until you find one you like. Your profession will continue to advance if you support it through an organization. Overall, Phyllis said that ASID has made her a better business person and a better leader.

On a separate note, Phyllis was invited to participate in George To The Rescue, an NBC show that provides home renovations for deserving families all via donations and pro bono work. Phyllis is extremely passionate and excited about this opportunity. The episode will air in February.

If you would like to connect with Phyllis:

Wrap Up

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!

90 – Two Different Interior Designers: Charlotte Dunagan and Garrow Kedigian

Interior designers Charlotte Dunagan and Garrow Kedigian

Two Different Interior Designers: Charlotte Dunagan and Garrow Kedigan

I have a BIG show today. Two very different interior designers: one from New York, whose design aesthetic is more classical in nature, and one from South Florida, very contemporary.

Garrow Kedigian

Garrow was born and raised in Montreal, Canada where he attended the prestigious McGill University’s Architecture program.  After completing his formal education, Garrow moved to Boston, MA where he gained six years of experience at the renowned offices of interior designer William Hodgins—before deciding to take a bite out of the “Big Apple.” Garrow has been in New York since relocating in 2000. After working for several design powerhouses in New York City, Garrow established his own design firm in 2001.

Garrow’s classically trained architectural background is the foundation for most ogarrow-kedigian-napolian-roomf his interior design work, stating, “The architecture is what sets the tone and tells you what you need to do with a space.”

Garrow and I first met at the Kips Bay Show House in New York this spring.  He designed an amazing room he called The Napolian Lounge, where he worked with a local chalk artist to create a temporary design on the walls to replicate trim and architectural detail.  The room was a big hit at the show and garnered Garrow in the pages of the New York Times.

Garrow and I talk about how he got into interior design, working with his staff, and the some of the amazing projects he has worked on, as well as current projects. Garrow is definitely an interior designer to watch.

Charlotte Dunagan

The daughter of an interior designer and antique dealer, growing up in Paris Charlotte was born into a world of design. Working and traveling alongside her parents throughout Europe she developed a trained eye for exceptional workmanship and the quality of collectible pieces of art and furnishings.

From these artistic roots, Charlotte began her formal art education at the MGM School of Design in Nice, France, where she studied graphic design, fashion, and interior design.  Building on this strong arts foundation and specializing in interior design, Charlotte continued and completed her studies in 1997 at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. Upon graduation, Charlotte received the Most Outstanding Thesis and Academic Excellence Awards.

Charlotte DunaganCharlotte Dunagan Design Group specializes in high end, large scale residential and boutique commercial projects.

Charlotte and I talk about how her mother influenced her decision to go into interior design, and here eventual move from Paris to school in the United States, and eventually deciding to stay in South Florida to run her own interior design firm.

We did talk about a lot of aspects of running her business, but what impressed me the most was her dedication to her team, and finding the help she needed to run the business of interior design.  Charlotte started working with a business coach and saw amazing results.

Wrap Up

I found it interesting that both interior designers on today’s show talked about the importance of working for a successful interior design firm before jumping into business themselves.  Two very different storied, but both examples of what is possible if you decide to build your own interior design firm.

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website atTheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebookand 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!

66 – Kips Bay Show House and Mitchell Hill

Kips Bay Show House 2016



Bunny Williams: 2016 Kip’s Bay Decorator Show House

This year, there is an exciting list of interior designers that have been selected to work on the Kips Bay Show House.  Designers include:

Alex Papachristidis Interiors, Benjamin Vandiver Interiors + Lifestyle, LLC, Clive Christian Interiors, Daniel Richards Design, David Collins Studio, David Kleinberg Design Associates, Drake/Anderson, Eve Robinson Associates, Garrow Kedigian Interior Design, Gil Walsh Interiors, Groves & Co., Harry Heissmann Inc., Hollander Design|Landscape Architects, Kati Curtis Design, Les Ensembliers, Olasky & Sinsteden, Phillip Thomas Inc., Sawyer | Berson, Suzanne Kasler Interiors, Timothy Whealon Interiors, and Victoria Hagan Interiors.

 “Doing a Kip’s Bay room is a lot of fun because you don’t have a client and you don’t have to worry about a budget, you can do anything you can think of, I always learn from Kip’s Bay, I always see something I haven’t seen before,” says Bunny Williams, Chairman of the Kip’s Bay Show House for the past five years. Today we will be talking to Bunny about the prestigious show house that raises funds for the Kip’s Bay Boys and Girls Club, specifically benefitting kids from the South Bronx area of New York.

Bunny got her start working in an antique shop at just 20 years old, doing anything she could find to be around all things interior design. Bunny started as a  secretary for the established design firm of Parish Hadley, after paying her dues she moved up in the firm, although she states, “You have be willing to carry shopping bags and make beds to get your foot in the door.” Bunny has had her own design business since 1984, has a successful furniture line and has had extensive licensing opportunities with several major home décor and furnishing brands.

“As a young designer I was just in awe, I can remember some of the great rooms I’ve seen over the years.” Kip’s Bay is celebrating the 44th annual show house this year; listen in to hear Bunny discuss the history behind the show house and how it has changed over the years. We are excited to be talking to Bunny today as she has direct experience with the show house, as she has designed rooms in the show house on a few occasions.

Nick and Bunny talk about the process involved in procuring a space for the annual show house and about this year’s new townhouse that was selected. Bunny talks about the benefits of the clean palette of a brand new space for the designer to work with, and why this year’s show house will be so interesting. The show house has approximately 25,000 visitors each year, “Everyone gets promotion from the show house, for young designers, it’s often how they get their start,” says Bunny.

Nick asks how designers are selected for the space, and Bunny talks about the balance they try to achieve between established firms and up and coming talent in the interior design field. Bunny talks about the timeframe the lucky designers have to create their space, “The designer has a very short window of opportunity, you have 20 designers all moving furniture in right now, this year they had 5 weeks to do their room start to finish.” Of the design process, Bunny states, “they don’t submit what they are going to do ahead of time, there’s no theme, sometimes there is a flow to the house and sometimes there isn’t and that’s ok, that’s what makes it exciting!”

Nick and Bunny talk about the tremendous amount of funds the event raises and also a design shop that is associated with the Kip’s Bay show house, where any designer can donate items, consumers can get a great deal, and all for a good cause.

To learn more about this year’s show house be sure to listen in for upcoming podcast’s from the show house directly and visit the website at kipsbaydecoratorshowhouse.org.  If you can, we urge you to go see the most well known and prestigious show home in the country.  The house is open from May 12 to June 9th.

Mitchell Hill (1)

Mitchell Hill: Michael Mitchell and Tyler Hill

We continue our interview with the talented designers of Mitchell Hill in the second half of today’s podcast, with an interview conducted at the 2016 Spring High Point Market, if you didn’t catch the first half, you can find it in the High Point Market Episode 5, to learn about the background ‘s of Michael and Tyler. Today we will learn more about their retail showroom and some more background into their interior design business, Mitchell Hill, a design firm and showroom.

The pair have backgrounds that include work in the retail space, Nick asks, “what did you learn in retail?” Tyler responds, “You learn customer service, you learn how to follow up with people. You have to make your customer feel important.” Nick and the pair talk about the importance of the sales component within the interior design field, “if you can’t close the sale, implement it and get it into the client’s home, and make them happy, then you will fail.”

The pair talks about the status of their business, which currently has seven employees and a few interns. The team focuses mainly on residential design but has branched out into hospitality, restaurants, and other commercial design in the past. The pair is very excited about the growth they have seen in the retail showrooms that they have curated over the past 6 years or so. Listen in to hear about the pair’s influence in the New York design market and the retail storefront in the destination-city of Charleston, South Carolina. The pair talks about how the showroom component of their business got started and how it has fed their interior design business. As if the successful design firm and retail showroom, the pair has recently branched out into creating their own lines, “We moved into a home and were looking for this perfect sconce, but couldn’t find it, so I started designing my own sconce and it grew from there.” Tune in to hear what other items you can find in their collection.

“When we opened our store, we decided we are only working with nice people if you can play that way you can play with us.” One to three times a month they will have an event in store, and Nick talks about the opportunities that exist with event marketing.” Mitchell Hill recently hired a PR firm so Nick and the team talk about the power of networking, Nick states, “that’s how we met, and it’s helped both our businesses.

You can learn more about this design duo at mitchellhillinc.com or visit their online store at shopmitchellhill.com

We would like to give a shout-out to a few of our favorite sponsors of The Chaise Lounge, VA Staffer, Design Manager and Benjamin Moore paints. Listen in to find out what these fantastic sponsors can do for you and your design business, and specifically, if you’ve had a great experience with a design representative from Benjamin Moore, send Nick an email that he will read on air, to me@nickmay.com.

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 InstagramFacebook 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!

My second interview for the day is with Michael Mitchell and Tyler Hill based out of Charleston, South Carolina, who own Mitchell Hill, a design firm and showroom.  I interviewed this duo while at High Point Market.  But we abbreviated the interview to just give some highlights.  This time, you get to hear the full story.  How did they start their business, and how do they run out of two locations:  Charleston, SC, and New York, NY…and why.