We know there are many aspiring interior designers who read Contemporist, so we decided to ask a real interior designer about the everyday reality of what it’s like to work as an interior designer.
Antonieta D’Introno is an interior designer located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; through a series of questions we asked her, she gives us some insight into the day-to-day realities of what it’s like to be an interior designer.
Antonieta D’Introno was born in Caracas, Venezuelan to an American artist and Italian professor. She grew up surrounded by art, architecture, history and culture, traveling across Europe and North America as a child with her family. Educated in Italy and America, she has lived in Italy, Spain, the United States and has now made her home in British Columbia, Canada.
Contemporist: How do you describe your style?
Antonieta: Pretty contemporary. I also define contemporary and modern differently. I love modern but I think that modern really describes a certain time…contemporary is what’s new and fresh. I like clean, fresh, uncluttered functional spaces. I want design to be accessable and affordable. You can make fantastic things if you’re creative, open-minded and patient.
Contemporist: What is the typical day in the life of an interior designer such as yourself?
Antonieta: Coffee is essential! Then I’m out the door and on my feet most of the day. I do most of the sketching and drafting. I source products, tiles, odd materials, lighting, decor. No one ever tells you in the beginning how strong you have to be to be a designer, carrying tile boards and moving furniture and reaching to measure spaces.. it’s a workout!
I have an intimate relationship with my cell phone! I try and work as closely with my clients and trades as possible so I make sure I can be contacted at any time. It is more important to me that a job be done well than allowing any guessing to come into the process.
I’m a busy bee during the day but I will put everything down for a good coffee and a good chat with my mom, we talk on the phone every day. And I like to wrap up my day with a long walk. Sometimes the best work happens outside the office when your mind is open,clear and creative.
Contemporist: What is the best thing about being an interior designer?
Antonieta: You just get to be creative…have fun…constantly playing. Being a designer is a bit like being an educator, helping people realise their dreams.
Contemporist: What is the worst thing about being an interior designer?
Antonieta: You have to be extremely diplomatic. It’s not that it’s the worst thing. Sometimes it is a bit of a guessing game, sometimes the clients test you.
Contemporist: Who or what are your major influences?
Antonieta: Family is my main influence I really like mid-century design and designers, especially architects from California. I love Californian modern, it is changing all the time but still timeless.
Contemporist: What are some projects that you want to do but haven’t had the chance?
Antonieta: Everything…I would love to be involved in designing a boutique hotel. I am doing a lot of residential but would like to collaborate with an architect to bring interior design and architecture together, to make them as one. I would also really love to work on designing sustainable prefab housing for the Canadian market, specifically British Columbia.
Contemporist: What is the hardest thing about working for yourself?
Antonieta: The inner arguements with myself. My own insecurities, I’m a perfectionist and sometimes I don’t have time to make it perfect. Anyone who says they don’t have insecurities is lying.
Contemporist: Is it difficult to get clients to be more adventurous with the designs?
Antonieta: I find many of my clients are very savvy and they do their research. So when we consider doing something new or different we take the time to look into all the pros and cons. It can be difficult to get a client to try new things but it is an exciting challenge I enjoy.
Contemporist: After consulting with a client, what is the process that you go through to bring the idea to a reality?
Antonieta: I gather as much information as possible for the client. Drawings, renderings, colors, materials and inspirations are all elements that help the client visualize what they want with what I see in my head. Getting the idea across successfully is a huge deal. Next, finding the trades to complete the job is just as, if not the most important part! Your design is only as good as the trades you use. There is a lot of research and time that can go into selecting all kinds of elements, ranging from the windows in a house to the door knobs to the trim details to the extra shelves in the kitchen pantry that a client has always dreamed of having. I work closely with a client to ensure their dreams can be achieved, within their budget and time-line.
Contemporist: What is the most frequent part of a home that people want designed?
Antonieta: Kitchens and bathrooms are the best places to start when remodeling or renovating and that’s where we usually start. There are so many different things you can do when designing a new bathroom or kitchen so it makes for a fun creative selection with the client.
Contemporist: In the photos (see above), there are some concrete fireplaces that are obviously the work of a designer. Is it difficult to convince clients to do custom work that results in more of an impressive interior?
Antonieta: When I work with a client and we are working on a larger scale project where we can have impressive areas, there is no convincing needed. When you have a feature fireplace or accent wall, it’s clear that particular item or area needs the extra punch. Custom work always completes an interior, it gives the space a unique and tailored feel.
Contemporist: How do you promote your work and get clients?
Antonieta: It’s not always easy to promote yourself or be on top of your marketing campaign, but being involved in the community and meeting people is the best way to find new clients. I think it’s important to look at all different kinds of advertising and avenues.
Contemporist: Any advice for young designers out there?
Antonieta: Patience! If you are good at what you do, enthusiastic and motivated good things will come to you. And never let someone tell you you can’t do something because with a little effort and compromise you can achieve anything you set your heart on!