76 – Two ends of the Interior Design business: Super high end commercial design to down-home residential design
On today’s show, you are getting a two for one show, with two separate interviews with two great design firms. Before you press play, make sure to check out www.thechaiseloungepodcast.com for new videos that Nick posts for his listeners, these videos include information on who’s coming up on the podcast, listener mail, and much more!
Stanley Felderman & Nancy Keatinge: FKA Studio
Based out of Culver City, California, this married design duo does many things beyond architecture and interior design, including product design, strategic planning, and much more! “We really collaborate on every level,” says Stanley as he discusses how the breakdown of tasks within their office works. Nancy explored many avenues after school, including documentary filmmaking. After meeting Stanley in the early 1980’s, Nancy pivoted to the design world. Nancy talks about being inspired by the home she lived in growing up, which was designed by Arthur Elrod, the famed mid-century designer. Of his background, Stanley says, “I always wanted to be an architect, I was born in the Bronx, to a very poor family and we lived in a tenement. I always fantasized about building a world that was prettier and much more fun to be in, so as long as I can remember I always dreamed that architecture was something that would liberate me.” After attending an art school, Stanley was offered a prestigious spot at the Pratt Institute studying architecture. After graduating from Pratt, Stanley worked for a large architectural firm, at the same time, Stanley helped out on a large project for a friend, which ended up launching his career. “The reason I had the success was that I was willing to take a risk, I had a full-time job at a great firm and had potential, but this call to do something creative, which was only meant to last a few weeks. I made the decision to quit the safety net, and take the risk and do something creative and that became the foundation to everything I am doing now.”
The pair talks with Nick about how they first met, and when they started working together, including the cross-country move from New York to California. Stanley talks about the growth within the company in the early years, and his deliberate approach of keeping the office small, in order to preserve the day to day design component in his work. Tune in to hear more about some of the big name clients the pair have and the work they do as a team. To find out more about this dynamic duo, please check out their website at fkastudio.com.
Patti Johnson: Patti Johnson Interiors
Based out of Lebanon, Ohio, Patti talks with Nick about her background, which includes much relocation around the country due to corporate moves from her husband’s company. “When I was a child, it’s something that I can remember from a young age of maybe 7, when my parents went out, I would rearrange the furniture, I’d draw houses and do space planning,” Patti says of her first motivations to design. Patti studied interior design at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, MI, however, she never finished, and although she took many courses over the years, she doesn’t actually hold a formal degree in interior design. Patti talks about the shift she’s seen in designers who are more willing to share sources and trade secrets when that hasn’t always been the case in the interior design network.
Like Nick, Patti also attended the 2016 Spring High Point Market, she states, “I really find it very, very valuable to see what the current trends are, to see what’s new and fresh in the market because I think it takes quite a while to make its way back. A being here in Ohio, we have very small design centers, so it’s really important as a designer to be able to offer my clients the latest and greatest.”
Patti talks about the difficulties she faced when moving from location to location. She talks about the length of time it takes for a business to get established in a certain location, and how moving frequently can make it very difficult to do so. Nick asks how long her most recent business has taken, “I would say I’ve been here almost 5 years, and for the first two years I had probably almost zero work here. It probably took 3 or 4 years before it finally took off.” Patti talks about the effect the status of the economy has on her line of work, especially in an area like Ohio. Patti describes the scope of her work, which is primarily ‘whole home’ renovations, and even some exterior work. Patti says, “I feel that you do the client a better service by transforming the whole home, not just the kitchen, so that’s how I prefer to do it.”
Nick asks Patti how she wins clients, especially with moving around so much, to which Patti answers, “Everybody is internet shopping, everyone’s on the internet, so having a web presence is important, having a website, people find you. I’ve just been blessed to have the work come to me.” She also talks about the work she’s gotten after volunteering to design show houses and the press that comes from that.
Patti is involved in something called a ‘mastermind group’, a group of designers of all different phases in their careers, who get together quarterly to learn and talk about a new topic in design. Tune in to learn more about the mastermind group Patti’s involved in, and how creating your own mastermind group could benefit you as a designer. Nick asks Patti how the group impacted her business, “Confidence and charging what you’re worth. You learn, really, how to be a better solo-preneur, I really needed to have that connection with other people who wanted to elevate their business.” Nick asks Patti what she thinks holds people back in attending things like a mastermind course, or other events that can help them grow their businesses. It comes down to time and cost, which can be a real investment.
Follow Patti on all the social media platforms, including Instagram or check out her website at pattijohnsoninteriors.com.
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