Designer Crush: Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design
1. How did you get your start in design? 
 
I was a year out of undergrad and had been working as a beauty and fashion publicist in Los Angeles after majoring in journalism at a Midwest university. I was happy about the career path in theory, but I had settled on it after trading the pursuit of interior design for something more “serious” (at the sage old age of seventeen). I found out the hard way that the desperate desire to create spaces wasn’t going to quit, so at age twenty-three, I took the plunge back into school and earned an interior design degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. I worked my way into the industry through securing internships and entry level positions, and a few years later, I opened my first design firm.
 
2. You’ve said that your parents and progressive academic background helped shape your career - how so? 
 
I absolutely believe that I had an advantage due to the fact that when I was growing up, my parents were stellar role models for hard work paying off. They came from humble beginnings and played up their strengths to develop successful, highly specialized careers. Both believed in the power of a varied education and extensive travel, and I was lucky to be enrolled in academically challenging and culturally diverse schools that prepared me for a world much bigger than Indianapolis, Indiana. That was probably why I was able to move to LA on a whim without becoming intimidated and overwhelmed despite not knowing anyone!
 
3. Why the name “Black Lacquer Design?”
 
I wanted the name to evoke a visual and I also didn’t want my name to be overtly branded. I think there’s something about the words black and lacquer that feels chic, sophisticated and sort of edgy when strung together.
 
4. How do you define “California style” and how does it differ from the aesthetic you grew up around in Indiana? 
 
To me, California style is most marked by a casual and effortless look that is still artfully layered and intentionally collected. It can be a tricky balance to achieve. It’s also significantly less color shy, which contributes to that laidback, fun look that we all associate with California living. Growing up in Indiana, I was exposed to a lot of spaces that were more inclined toward a traditional or rustic style. A lot of neutral!
 
5. How has social media helped you build your brand?
 
Social media has always felt a little phony to me when used professionally, so it’s been a slow build for sure. I would always prefer things as authentic and a bit irreverent, though now my team and I are trying to be more engaged to get our work out there and establish a virtual, engaged presence. I think we’ve had clients who come to us because they appreciate the attainable, real talk approach.
 
6. What’s the biggest design mistake you see people make and what’s your fix?
 
I’ve been noticing that a lot of people are reluctant to invest in their personal, private spaces and focus all their time and money on the public spaces instead. I think this is a huge mistake! It’s so important to make your home about you first and foremost, and ignoring your bedroom (for example) just disrupts that intention from the start.
 
7. Who would be your dream celebrity client and why? 
 
I’ve definitely done some low-key daydreaming about working with Taylor Swift. She seems so fun, sweet and chic! I feel like her personal style is wonderfully multifaceted and she unabashedly celebrates so many aspects of herself. I respect that because I totally identify with loving lots of seemingly conflicting things and not wanting to play by the rules of a limiting, socially-constructed genre.
 
8. Describe your ideal Sunday. 
 
Brunch, poolside with friends, mimosas, snuggling with my Cocker Spaniel, Color.
 
Lightning round!
 
9. Tater tots or fries?
 
Fries, for sure!
 
10. Outdoor hike or indoor bike?
 
Outdoor bike!
 
11. Louboutins or Chuck Taylors?
 
Why not both?!
 
12. Britney or Beyonce? 
 
Beyonce definitely has WAY more style.
 
13. Polka dots or stripes?
 
How do I choose?!
 
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