The Chaise Lounge

161 – Mark Zeff: Interior Design Hall of Fame

Mark Zeff: Interior Design Hall of Fame

Today in The Lounge, Nick interviews Mark Zeff, a recently inducted member of the Interior Designers Hall of Fame. Mark tells us how he got started in interior design and how moving to New York was the best business decision he’s ever made. Find out on the episode how he has created a full-service firm, from branding all the way to designing fabrics.  

Getting to Know Mark

Mark was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to Cape Town at the age of five. He attended University in London and moved to Australia after finishing school. Soon after, Mark decided that New York is where he really wanted to be. His favorite vacation spot is Bay Beach in the Hamptons and this is where the inspiration for his New York shop came from. When Mark is asked beer, wine or cocktail, he responds “definitely a cocktail.”

How Mark Got His Start

Mark first became interested in interior design when he attended an industrial design school in Johannesburg. He soon found that interior design wasn’t enough, he wanted to be an architect. Mark loved art and machinery so architecture was the perfect career to marry the two together. He landed a job at a firm in Sydney but New York seemed like the place to be in the 80s. So, Mark took off to NY in 1982 to have a little fun. Three weeks later he was out of money, called Ken Walker up on a whim and got a job with him the following week. Ken Walker worked with some of the largest retailers in the industry such as Bloomingdales and Macy’s and the firm had 300 people working for it. Mark’s first big project was with designing a toy store. Later he was invited to work with Ken’s product development team. After 2 and a half years with Ken, Mark went to work for Robert Gerson, whose firm specialized in industrial design. With Robert, Mark worked on the control center at NASA as well as on the machines. While working there he met some people who asked him to design their fashion showrooms. That’s when Mark left to start his own firm in the late 1980s.  

       

The Business Today

Mark runs his business from Dumbo, ‘Down Under theManhattan Bridge Overpass,” in New York. He fell in love with the interior of this 1920s building and converted it into his studio and store. Over the years Mark’s firm has had various employees, but now he staffs only about 25-30 people with backgrounds in branding, interior design, and architecture. They work all over in the industry including on homes, restaurants, condos, spas, rental units, townhomes, and apartments. Mark loves working all over and having a small firm. They do about 20 projects a year and some projects can last between eight months to three years. Branding is one of Mark’s passions. At fourteen he wanted to be a graphic designer so he looks at the world through a graphic eye. Mark runs a business that services everything you need designing furniture to fabrics and wallpaper. He uses branding as a huge tool in his business.

When Mark first started his firm he began by doing residential projects. The jobs he got were from people he met in nightclubs. His first big job was with Ann Baton, who came from a wealthy family and hung out with Andy Warhol. His transition to commercial design was by opening up a furniture store, that was similar to Design Within Reach. He imported furniture from Germany and Italy and also started designing his own furniture collection. A hotel business took notice and wanted to partner up with him. Mark’s first restaurant was the Red Cat on 23rd street. Later he worked on the Night Hotel, which really put him the map as a commercial designer. No else had done this kind of project before and to this day it is still called the sexiest hotel in New York City.

Mark opened a store in the 90s called Zeff Style but closed it after 9/11. He knew he wanted to open up another store again, so he gave a try in Brooklyn. BLACKBARN’s brand is to develop a home brand that has soul. People really love his store in Dumbo. It’s unique with its merchandising and collections. Mark received an offer from the Chelsea Market to bring his store into their business and make it the most exciting store in New York. It’s an experience where you can buy furniture and taste food to go with it. It will be a brand new concept for shopping and is scheduled to open late October of 2017.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and visit Blackbarn’s website as well.

Resources

Design Manager‘s software has great functionality and makes it easy for designers to control their business, while also looking very professional. If you haven’t tried them, there is nothing to lose with a FREE!!! 30-day trial and a 90-day money back guarantee.

Porcelanosa Porcelanosa not only offers tiles for your home but everything you might need to decorate, from plumbing fixtures to furniture, so be sure to check them out.

  • Upcoming Events

BDNY  – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market Jan 28 – Feb 1

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!

148 – Randy Fiser: The Big Cheese at ASID

Randy Fiser: The Big Cheese at ASID

Today in The Lounge we have a SPECIAL guest, CEO of ASID aka The Big Cheese: Randy Fiser. He might not have an interior design background and he isn’t an interior designer but Randy is definitely one of the most influential people in the industry.

As always please reach out to us as Nick LOVES to hear from you guys, tell us what you’re doing, what you’d like to hear on the show and ask us questions if you need advice!

Secondly, don’t forget to check out Porcelanosa‘s Life Style Magazine either online or order it by mail because guess what, it’s FREE. They feature tons of great commercial/hospitality designers and images. Their 3D rendering service is also FREE so you utilize it guys! Remodel a kitchen or bathroom for your clients. Learn more about it here.

Getting to Know Randy

Randy was born in Southern California and lived there until he was 11 when he moved to Arizona and finished high school. Later, he went to Georgia for grad school and eventually moved to Washinton DC where he has been ever since. He received his masters in Counseling and Human Development as well as an MBA. Ever since he was little Randy knew he wanted to be in business and work with people to make an impact and leave the world a better place. So, he invested his time in consulting and large scale organizational transformation work. Later Randy’s managing and consulting work were mission driven and soon he transitioned to non-profit work on affordable housing development and education reform. He was a client of Brad Pitt’s to help rebuild New Orleans as well.

Randy’s favorite place to vacation is Bali. As long as there is an adventure and he can hike, bike, be active and go to the beach, he’s there. Good food is, of course, important too. Randy lives in a small 700 square foot apartment in DC, space isn’t important to him as he’s never home! BUT it is very well designed and FUNCTIONAL. Canadian designers built the apartments using Universal’s Design Principles so anyone could live in it, such as someone in a wheel chair or someone not in a wheelchair. This is why Randy believes design matters, it took him a year to notice and think about the wide-range functionality in his apartment because it was so well designed. Design can be both beautiful and functional to the point where you don’t notice or think about!

If you ask Randy, “beer, wine or a cocktail?”… it’s wine AND a cocktail.

A Day in the Life

Well, it’s never a typical day in the life of Randy but usually, he’s on the road. He meets with members of ASID, attends chapter events, and talks with manufacturers who want to bring their product in front of members. He meets with other associations that represent the surrounding areas of design and construction. He meets with government officials at the state and federal levels.He meets with clients who run companies, healthcare facilities, or who are homeowners. He talks about WHAT designers do and WHY design matters. Design impacts life. Randy informs us that we’re spending 93% of our time indoors now!! So human interaction with the spaces we spend the most time in defines us as human beings and affect our health. Randy does a lot of public speaking on these topics and loves it because it is what he is passionate about.

Randy thinks ASID needs to continue pushing this message and furthermore elevate it with case-studies. It’s one thing to tell people that design impacts lives but it’s another thing to prove it. One interesting thing Randy brings up is how we design spaces for people but we never take pictures of the spaces with people in them! Aesthetic is defining design but in reality, design is for functionality and for people, every space has a purpose. If you let beauty take over you dilute what design is all about! In every image of ASID’s new Head Quarters, they have people in it, the goal is to show design intent by putting people within the space who are using it. It’s like clothing, it’s better to photograph it on someone than off, as you get a better idea how the clothing works. Randy believes we need to focus less on luxury, lifestyle, brand, and aesthetics as that’s just consumerism and design is so much more.

The hardest part about Randy’s job is the misconception of what designers do, which both motivates and frustrates him. Clients don’t always understand what a designer is doing and often times the design community undersells themselves which is frustrating. This is why Randy travels around to talk about these subjects. People either benefit or hurt from a space which means they can benefit or hurt from designer’s work. The intent of a space can change an entire culture of an organization. Designers have the skills to achieve intent i.e build happiness, interactivity, acoustic comfort, or light into a space.

NEOCON Announcements

Aside from building up their glutes at Neocon, ASID’s goal is to connect with the design community. They use these communities to announce their up and coming events and messages. First off, they have an amazing example of workplace design at their new HQ. It is the first LEED and WELL platinum office in the world and they are doing pre/post-occupancy research and case studies on how the design improves productivity, engagement, and attention in staff. The second announcement is the merger of ASID’s magazine Icon (comes out 6 times a year) combined with IDC ‘s D Magazine. The name is still to be determined so SEND IN YOUR IDEAS. ASID will be holding a brand new Leadership Experience conference in San Diego for emerging professionals consisting of 300+ people representing ASID chapters and 300+ people doing leadership skills (leading one’s self, team or practice). Leadership isn’t a skill we’re trained for in design school so here is the opportunity to learn how to be one. Lastly, Platform is their other brand new retreat for principals, partners, and owners in Victoria, BC. They will have keynote speakers outside of the design industry with conversations in between discussing how to change practices or run businesses accordingly.

  • Upcoming Events

Casual Market Sept 12 – 15

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • 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 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!

147 – Susan Suhar-Phillips: Interior Design Director at HDR

Susan Suhar-Phillips: Interior Design Director at HDR

Today in The Lounge, Susan Suhar-Phillips, Interior Design Director at HDR, joins Nick at the Porcelanosa showroom in the Merchandise Mart. Susan is Nick’s longest-known friend to ever be on the show. Not only did they go to Junior High together but they also lived down the street from each other growing up! On this episode, Susan discusses how she got started in interior design and the variety of jobs she’s had in the industry. Susan also talks about her big move from Chicago to LAand how it made a HUGE change in her networking pool.

Getting to Know Susan

Susan is the Los Angeles Design Director for HDR, which is a large country-wide firm. She assists with projects at these sister firms as well. Susan has worked with HDR for about a year now. Before that, she was at Eckenhoff Saunders as their Interior Design Director.

Susan originally started out in the fine arts program at The Art Institute of Chicago when she found that being an artist was not a financially successful career path for her as she moved out of her parents home. So, she went in a different direction and tried environmental studies and sciences, but didn’t really like it. On a whim, she decided to take a drafting class at her local community college and at 21, fell in love with it. It was the perfect marriage of her creative side and her science side. This class gave her the exposure to architecture, drafting and interiors that she needed for the “ah ha” moment she’d been waiting for. Susan first received her associate’s degree in Interior Design and then continued her education back at The Art Institute for Interior Architecture. She describes her community college education as gaining the technical knowledge while The Art Institute taught her to push the design envelope. It forced her to look at the world and its interior environments completely differently.

While Susan was in school she also did a couple of internships. Her very first internship was in community college with a furniture dealer. This experience allowed her to become familiar with vendors, materials, pricing, and application. While attending The Art Institute, she worked an internship with VOA which later turned into a full-time design position. VOA exposed Susan to the world of interior architecture and gave Susan a glimpse of how to collaborate with large teams, work on big projects, work with high profile clients, and work late nights. Don’t forget to bring your portfolio to your internship interviews like Susan might have ;).

Networking is Key!… But it May Take Some Time

Susan just moved to LA from Chicago a year ago, and as a result, she now has to start over with her professional network. She feels like networking is the only way to broaden your project base. Susan explains that the more exposed you are, even with your industry peers including competitors, vendors, and clients, the more you’re respected and understood as a contender in the industry. Moving can be stressful enough but it also took about a year for Susan to get used to her new routines, get acclimated with project deliverables, and accustomed to her commutes/travel before she started networking. She now has a good handle on everything and is ready to start.

The Business Today

As a BD, business developer, Susan can go out into the field and promote her company. She gave us some insight that HDR is moving away from hospitality and becoming more of a healthcare giant. Susan also mentioned that when Gary Wheeler joined HDR and took helm of the workplace, he made a significant change to the vision of HDR and where they are going design-wise. This vision is to become more interiors driven. HDR is going to be including the workplace and have strong market sectors between healthcare, work, education, science, and technology.

As Design Director, Susan, has six designers that work underneath her with experience in design ranging from fifteen years to just out of college. The hardest thing she has to do job-wise, is making sure that everyone is always staying busy and billable. Also, she has to make sure that schedules and work plans are laid out to support the entire staff so no one is being under worked. Susan doesn’t like doing time sheets, master specifications, project manual specifications, and the critical features that are called out for specs because they are very time consuming but on the bright side there are people on her staff who love writing them.

Susan has been surprised to find how different designers are regarded in varying firms within the industry and how a designer is incorporated into commercial projects. Commercial is so collaborative in working with engineers, architects, contractors, and subcontractors. It was a surprise to see how many people it took to complete a project as well as the amount of info exchanged and necessary documents.

HDR has an interior design summit that includes all 10 offices. All 30 designers meet in the Chicago office to kickoff Neocon. It’s a way for their firm to stay connected while they get exposure at Neocon. Neocon, for Susan, is the design “fiscal year” when new products are launched so they can be the first to use them.

What’s New?

Susan recently spoke at Neocon and it went so well that it was standing-room-only to fit everyone in there! Susan was very nervous, not because of the public speaking aspect, but because of her topic. Jinsop Lee’s TED talk on 5 human senses and product design was so inspiring that it got her thinking in terms of how this could be related to interiors. So, she spoke about designing based on the human sense and what that means- how we can break it down to understand our sensual impact. Susan feels like there’s a loss of humanity with technology, and this is how we can reel that back in.

Resources

Benjamin Moore’s Scruff X helps with those nasty scuff marks you get on your beautiful white walls when a sofa or chair rubs up against them.

LVT Porcelanosa (Luxury, Vinyl, Tile) Link Floor is getting put in commercial spaces, multifamily homes, and hotels because it is a high-end durable product. Vinyl stays cool and doesn’t absorb any smells. It stays fresh and is easy to clean.

Highpoint Market

Nick worked with Steelyard to bring hospitality design to High Point Market. Nick will be hosting a panel discussion on what it takes to move from residential to hospitality. It will be part of the Viewpoint Panel series titled, Hospitality Insiders Share All: What it Takes to be a Designer in the Hospitality Sector on Sunday, October 15 at noon with Gary Inman, Nina Magon, Patrick Sutton, and Todd Ellenberger

Let Nick know if you are going to highpoint and he would love to meet up with you there! Leave a Review on iTunes and ask us about our internship opportunities by using the Question? tab or emailing admin@thechaiseloungepodcast.com.

  • Upcoming Events

Casual Market Sept 12 – 15

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • 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!

145 – Francesca Bucci: Cruise Ship Designer

Francesca Bucci: Cruise Ship Designer

Today in The Lounge, Nick sits down with Francesca Bucci to talk about a BIG topic: how to design Cruise Ship interiors. 

Getting to Know Francesca

Francesca Grew up in Rome, Italy, came to U.S after she earned her degree in architecture, and finished her studies at Cornell. Sardinia and Bermuda are her two favorite places to vacation as she loves being close to the sea. Her favorite fashion accessory is a headband; they’re a little retro, unexpected, or even preppy. If she wasn’t designing cruise ships, she’d either be singing or figure skating. As an Italian, her drink of choice is obviously wine- “don’t ask an Italian a question like that” says Francesca. She loves cooking and entertaining, so, she would rather stay home than go out but does gravitate towards French restaurants.

Finding Ship

When Francesca studied Architecture at the University of Rome, it wasn’t interior-oriented, which is why she finished at Cornell. Her education in Rome was focused on architectural history, restoration and all of the technical aspects. Francesca first became interested in architecture in High School because she has a passion for drawing. Specifically, she loves drawing cartoons. In her cartoons, she is able to write the story of a building, as they take place in and are inspired by Rome interiors.

Francesca’s first employer out of school was Perkinson Whales in Washington, DC. She felt like she was at a disadvantage compared to people who did all of their schoolings in the U.S. because she was much older and lacked the interesting theoretical knowledge one might learn in the U.S. In Italy you get out of school when you 25-26 versus 22. She felt as though her knowledge was basically useless in the States, where sketching and hands-on practices were practical. So, she jumped right in and had to learn at a fast pace everything there was to learn.

Francesca’s first task at the job was solely to put project slides in containers but it didn’t matter, she was on top of the world just to have a job in an American firm. Later, she transitioned into a drafter position and her employers picked up on her keen eye for details and started to teach her more. After, she worked in a couple firms in DC then moved to NY, where she learned a lot. After 4-5 years, Francesca found herself with little knowledge on how to specify things so she went to learn! The next firm she worked at is where she learned the specialization of retail, residential, and cruise ship lines.

The Business Today

There are a lot of custom elements that go into a cruise ship. One must consider the weight and size of everything, how the ship is built, compliances, materials and outdoor elements. You need to be able to determine the parameters in a flexible way, as the building code is 10 times bigger than in NYC. There is a big learning curve when doing cruiseship interiors as it would be very challenging to learn how to build a ship in the span of one project. 

Based in New york in Times square, BG Studio International, Franseca’s firm consists of 15 people, a small firm with big projects. Projects often last 3 years and the team does multiple vessels at the same time.

  • Upcoming Events

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

  • 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 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!

142 – ICFF with Chad James

ICFF with Chad James

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick meets with Chad James at ICFF NYC to talk about long time client, friend and country singer-songwriter Luke Bryan; PR; and Chad’s progress since their last interview about a year ago. It’s Chad’s first time at ICFF and he is very excited about the unique vendors and getting small glimpses into each one’s best work. Later, Nick talks to Shell Broadnax of RESA who will be speaking at Las Vegas Market about whether or not you might want to become a home stager.

Special thanks to Benjamin Moore for making this week’s show possible. Walls By Design exclusively uses Benjamin Moore paints which can be bought online at Guiry’s. This week in the office we did a paint test between Benjamin Moore and Sherman Williams‘ four lowest end products, as they’re the most commonly bought paints. Hang tight for a link to the video on the Walls By Design Facebook. Also, Lindsay Paoli of Design Manager just featured us in her article, 11 Binge-Worthy Design Shows That Aren’t on HGTV, which talks about the top design movies, TV shows, books and podcasts to check out this summer. Design Manager is the best way for your business to stay organized, get rid of spreadsheets and Microsoft documents, and put all your projects, accounting, and inventory in one place.

Catching up with Chad

Currently, Chad is on a 12-week travel schedule so he hasn’t spent much time at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. When he does make it to his lakehouse though, he enjoys wake surfing from his boat.

Chad is always very private about who he works with but once a client’s project is published, he’s able to talk about it. Two years ago he designed Luke Bryan’s Florida beach home and recently, his work was picked up and put on the cover of Traditional Home, so Nick dug in to learn all about it. Check out the article here. His photographs (featured below) were done by architectural photographer Alyssa Rossenheck who will be on the show this month!

Chad gives us some insight into the pros and cons of PR in the interior design industry and how he is able (or unable) to get his work out there. He tells us, after spending so much time on a beautiful project, often times the only people who get to see and enjoy it are the homeowners. From the very beginning of a project, he and his client talk through his photographic rights and come to an agreement about what this means. He will always respect a client’s privacy even if he is disappointed he doesn’t get to show off his work. His firm never talks about a project due to the fact that with social media and digital press, information spreads quickly… no one wants what they’re doing and spending to be in the public eye. All of his employees sign a confidentiality agreement. Occasionally though, he get’s to take photos of a project and send it out to multiple avenues in order to see who will ‘bite,’ just like with Traditional Home and Luke Bryan.

Last time Nick and Chad chatted, at Highpoint, he told us that he hired a PR company to encourage his business and his work. Before that, Chad just kept his head down, took pictures, put them in his portfolio, and that was it. He never was a self-promotor so his PR took away the burden and discomfort of having to promote himself. Now, he’s has participated in speaking engagements and has traveled to Italy, to Paris, and all over the U.S. His PR handles all online and print media, gained him name recognition, and created a BRAND- the only way to make your business grow.

Lastly, Chad talks about his new house, which he closed on his birthday, but is only just now starting to design the space. He has decided to publish his home when ‘s finished because this house is very different than anything he’s ever done before – it’s contemporary! He describes it as a ‘modern box’ and so, he wants to let his pendulum swing in the other direction and show off this new side.

Chad predicts that after a 7-year span of bright, light and crisp designs, we are now returning back to warmer darker palettes with brass and rich luxurious fabrics, color and interiors.

Learn more at chadjames.com, follow @chadjamesgroup on Instagram or Chad James Group on Facebook.

Meet Shell Brodnax CEO and Founder of RESA

Shell is our first guest of many who will be speaking at and participating in Las Vegas Market‘s special events.

Shell joins us from Valley Springs California. Her favorite place to vacation is in the mountains but she admits she’s a workaholic and hasn’t taken enough time off to get to them. Her inner cowgirl informs us that spurs and her belt buckle are her favorite fashion accessories and a recent book she has read and recommends is It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows YOU! by David Avrin. Nick loves marketing books and also recommends, Marketing Outrageously.

Shell founded RESA in 2007 but is NOT a home stager. She loves all things staging but actually doing the staging is a whole other story. She says that it’s a specific kind of creative balance between the right the brain left brain that she just doesn’t have. What she did love doing were the sales and marketing but couldn’t find a partner to do the rest with her. So instead, she founded RESA: a trade association organization that brings together stagers. Her platform allows all different types of stagers and business models to come together as one support group.

Her talk in Las Vegas will be about why you should or shouldn’t ever start in the business of home staging; it’s for some people but definitely not for others. She wants to save the juicy details for the event, but she does give us some insight. The main point she’ll drive home is that staging and design work are very different business models. If a designer wants to get into the business, they do have the design aspect going for them but people often make the mistake of overdesigning. It’s not a not personalized home, but a marketing strategy. The main goal is to merchandise your asset.

Learn more about RESA at realestatestagingassociation.com

Find Shell on August 2nd from 10:30-11:30 at her event, “Staging to Sell, Is This The Career For Me?” in the Building C Seminar Room, C174. Learn more about the event here.

Let us know if you are heading to Vegas as it’s coming up quickly! Nick is going LIVE at 4 pm PT every day of Market with Barry Livingstone, his very first guest on the show, Kelli Ellis, Christopher Kennedy and Dann Foley. There will be wine and it WILL be a good time!

  • Upcoming Events

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

  • 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 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!

140 – Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer

Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer

On this episode of The Lounge, Therese Virserius joins Nick at Porcelanosa in New York to talk about her design business. She may have started out in law but today she is a multinational interior design business owner, there’s nothing unlawful about that. From Paris, Montreal, Berlin, to Brussels, Tunisia and New York Therese designs for hospitality all over the world.

Getting to Know Therese

Therese’s favorite fashion accessory is bracelets. She doesn’t have a favorite restaurant though because it honestly just depends on her mood and the weather. Home is Sweden, even though her offices are in New York and Paris, and truly she just loves all things Italy. Her friends might agree that wine is her drink of choice, whether it’s a light red or a Sauvignon Blanc. Therese travels 50% out of the month so its safe to say she’s a busy woman, but one place she’s never designed in is the Maldives, and she would love the opportunity (hint, hint).

How Mandarin Started it All

Therese never thought she would be doing interior design or end up in New York because her background is in law. When she was young, Therese was very interested in Asia so she left Sweden for China to get a BA in Mandarin. In China, she strictly did management and logistics for IKEA but soon began oil painting and having her own exhibits in Shanghai. Therese wanted an outlet to express herself, even more, so she opened up a store for product design. Her drawings were brought to life and made into products. She created anything from silverware to glassware, candles, fabrics, and napkins.

After 3 years of chaos in Shanghai, Therese moved to New York and went back to school at New York School of Interior Design to get some formal training. She worked and interned for Jeffrey Beers where she was tossed directly into the hospitality fire. Her first project was to renovate The Westin Fort Lauderdale.

The Business Today

The clients who come to Virserius Studio are ready for a change. When sourcing she looks for slim, delicate lines, but must remember hospitality pieces have to be durable. She wants products that could stand alone in an empty room and still ‘wow’ you. Her style is eclectic, and she enjoys mixing colors and patterns.

Therese’s New York office houses 13 people, from architects to designers, and her Paris office is more quaint with only 4. Therese often finds herself wishing she could be in both offices at once as meetings can sometimes overlap. Time is her biggest challenge – since she’s always traveling back and forth. Therese doesn’t micromanage her team as she believes they should be able to run without her. They need the freedom to be creative and let their minds flow on their own, but she also doesn’t want them to feel alone, so she checks in multiple times a day. Her role is to make sure the ship doesn’t go off course, make life easier for her designers, and make sure her people are happy (both clientele and her team).

There’s no slow period in Therese’s life. On top of it all she also still designs products, does custom furniture for every project, and owns an art company in Paris. She does everything from art printed on floors and walls, to sculpture, mixed media, prints and even an outdoor furniture line. See more at www.walterswicker.com

Dealing with bookkeeping and accounting are her least favorite task but she knows it is a necessity to be involved. Therese doesn’t have a favorite space to create because the experience of staying in a hotel is a journey. It begins when you enter and ends when you leave, so you must tell a cohesive story.

Current Projects

Her firm has been working on a year-long competition and was awarded The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, a 3,000 room renovation. It’s got “just the right amount of bad” Therese says, and the target completion is in 2018

They’re also repositioning a hotel in Tunisia to change the way it operates and facilitates. For example, adding in a sky lounge and move the presidential suite to a different location. She tells us the creme de la creme stay in this hotel, so no pressure.

She also collaborates with students to do artistic expressions in hotels like in Hotel Bloom. At any given point, she is working on 10-15 at a time.

Learn more at www.virseriusstudio.com

Chaise Lounge Updates

We’re gearing up for High Point Market fall 2018. Stay in the loop on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

The Student Lounge is up and running! Visit us to hear podcast episodes produced for students, by students.

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!

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