The Foundation is Female

In a time when being a woman is the single most important role many of us must play, coming together to support and celebrate each other is even more necessary. At one point we have all studied an image of an iconic space, designed by an accomplished woman, that inspired us to become a part of this community. Each one of us has been moved by the words and thoughts of the most inventive females who give their all to curate not just spaces but to shape the lives of many.

In this story we brought together an array of creators whose collective body of work has crossed global boundaries. Whether demonstrating that design ideas are infinite, shedding light on the rarest makers or moving millions with the click of a mouse, each has given a piece of themselves that will change the path of another, all while empowering more women to do the same.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? I love the spirit of women like Gabriella Crespi and Greta Grossman. There is something really bold about female furniture designers in the mid-century era, almost renegade (from my point of view). While there were other well-known females working at the time, I love the sophisticated yet playful quality of their work.

WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT BEING A FEMALE IN THE DESIGN INDUSTRY? There are lots of challenges in design as the process involves so many details that need constant attention. It’s rare that I feel a specific challenge to being female. I would say that the early years of raising a child and having a design business are particularly challenging; there are even more logistics than ever! The transition into motherhood was a more challenging period, as trying to strike some balance just felt like I was setting myself up to not succeed in this pursuit of “balance.” Now I realize you just do your best. Certain days, it just all falls apart and it’s okay because we know how to put it back together.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A DESIGN SUCCESS TODAY? I think vision is first and foremost, but what holds up any business is character. Our vision should stay fresh, incorporating what we find tried and true. As for character, having patience, being a good listener and owning your errors are all skills that I find necessary in our field.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE YOUNG FEMALE DESIGNERS? It’s important to maximize your exposure in the beginning and to put in time in the right environment. I also encourage our younger designers to not be reactive in situations. Staying calm allows for more creativity in difficult moments. We encourage them to realize that mistakes happen. Just come to us with solutions.

WHAT CHANGE SHOULD WE PUSH FOR IN THIS INDUSTRY? I love the idea of more mentorship, which led me to discussing
this question with my friend and peer, Sean Yashar. We have bantered about the idea of legacy in design firms. Most design firms
are not structured to allow for designers becoming partners. I think it would be so cool to circle back to this idea from the past, allowing the next generation to be supported as they rise to the top.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? I love Kelly Wearstler’s work. Her style is so distinct, yet no project is the same. You never know exactly what to expect from her, but you know it will be something layered and immersive, and effortlessly cool.

WHAT CHANGE SHOULD WE PUSH FOR IN THIS INDUSTRY? I think that designers need to really stand by what they bring to the table and know the worth of their expertise. I love that interior design is being democratized to be more accessible to everyone, but when clients reach out to interior designers for their expertise, they need to walk into the relationship with trust that they are working with an expert in this field. And, on the flip side of that coin, designers need to constantly evolve and educate themselves to stay ahead, and to be the steward of a client’s home. It’s a partnership, and the best results are born out of trust.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR DESIGN CAREER? I was always drawn to architecture and design in school but thought of it as something to enrich my life outside of work, not as an actual career. Then, one summer, I was working at a big advertising agency, and came across an article about Sheila Bridges in the Brown University alumni magazine. I was really moved by her work—her interiors are so rich, and every project has a distinct point of view. In the interview, she talked about the hard work it takes to manage projects, and how she built her business, which I found very inspiring. It was the first time I really imagined myself as an interior designer. She’s the reason that I went to Parsons for design school because she went there.

WHAT TREND DO YOU SEE EMERGING RIGHT NOW? I am definitely seeing a return to a more thoughtful way of designing. Quality over quantity or convenience. We have been conditioned to have everything at our fingertips and on our doorsteps overnight with free shipping! Which is great, but that mentality does not necessarily produce interiors with staying power. As time becomes more of a luxury these days, so too does a piece of artwork or furniture that is made by hand. Our clients are looking to create homes that are meaningful, even if that takes time.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? Louise Nelson and Katherine Hepburn for their style, independent spirits and irreverence.

WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT BEING A FEMALE IN THE DESIGN INDUSTRY? Not looking as perfect as the boys like Jay Jeffers, Ken Fulk and Will Wick do, 24/7.

WHAT TREND DO YOU SEE EMERGING RIGHT NOW? I see designers really going for it! They realize that time is short, so you have to make it fabulous.

HOW DOES YOUR STYLE DEFINE CALIFORNIA? Scale. I followed and studied the greats who I believe mastered scale.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A LONG-LASTING BUSINESS? It’s all about the people around you. Do they challenge you? I would also say it’s about maintaining grace and passion even when you fall, so you will have the ability to get back up and try again.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? Eileen Gray, Andrée Putman, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli. All were strong, willfully independent, left of central, unconventional and unapologetic.

NAME ONE CHANGE WE SHOULD ALL PUSH FOR IN THIS INDUSTRY. Equal pay.

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY CHANGED YOUR BUSINESS? There is so much about technology that I find a distraction. However, I do love how accessible and global the world of design has become. Even if you can’t get on a plane, you can see things that inspire and educate you about cultures beyond your imagination at the touch of a button.

WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT BEING A FEMALE IN THE DESIGN INDUSTRY? The industry itself is challenging, but my place in it doesn’t feel hindered or helped by being female. If you carve out the place you want, surrounded by good people, representing interesting clients, the challenges of those collaborations are immensely exciting. I have formidably talented vendors and craftsmen/ women and pretty badass clients. They are all creative and imaginative. I worked hard to put myself among all of them, and that was the true challenge.

WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE DO YOU GIVE YOUNG WOMEN BREAKING INTO DESIGN? Being creative and strong-willed is not a negative. It’s important to have joy in what you do, and people will listen. Have your own North Star, work hard and earn your place. Don’t ever step on another woman’s shoulders to get higher up the totem pole.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? I would have to say Frida Kahlo. What I love about her was how her vibe, style and talents oozed from everything she touched. Her sensibility, integrity, powerful stories and way of being in the world was so inspiring to me—what a force.

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY CHANGED YOUR BUSINESS? Working in home decor as someone who embraced and harnessed the power of social media somewhat early has been hugely beneficial to my career. Since I got my start in design through my blog, I can say with a high degree of certainty that my brand, Jungalow, would not exist today if social media and blogging wasn’t a thing. Today, our whole model relies on the internet—from our online boutique to our media channels on Instagram and beyond, our whole strategy revolves and tech and the internet.

NAME ONE CHANGE WE SHOULD ALL PUSH FOR IN THIS INDUSTRY. Iwould love to see more diversity in our field. I believe that working with people from diverse backgrounds and studying things from vastly different viewpoints makes everything better. I believe that diversifying the design industry has the power to greatly improve the community as a whole.

WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT BEING A FEMALE IN THE DESIGN INDUSTRY? It’s hard for me to separate being a female in this industry from being a female of color who came up in this industry in a very unconventional way. I do find that at times I don’t feel I’m taken seriously. I also have experienced being offered less money than men for the same job, and I also have experienced unusual behavior, such as people asking to feel my hair. All of these things provide me with unique challenges, but they certainly have motivated me to push myself even more so that I may rise to the top.

HOW HAVE COLLABORATIONS AFFECTED YOUR CAREER? I’ve learned so much from each collaboration that I’ve done. I love learning about all the ins and outs of business and working with partners so I get an inside look at how other people run their businesses. Everything from product development (materials, time to create samples, engineering) to marketing (photo shoots, social media, events), and it’s endlessly inspiring with so many takeaways. I think in many ways, collaborations have been a huge asset to my career and I have learned so much. One thing I would caution against, however, is making collaborations be the core of your business. Over the years I’ve learned that collaborations are truly amazing, but they should be a side dish, or dessert—not the main course of your business.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? Zaha Hadid. She crossed the boundaries of avant-garde architecture and design and paved the way for female architects.

WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT BEING A FEMALE IN THE DESIGN INDUSTRY? I tend to like challenges, and I consider myself a human first before I consider myself a female in a man’s world of architecture. I love the fact that now more than ever before, women are taking up space in architecture.

HOW DOES YOUR STYLE DEFINE CALIFORNIA DESIGN? My work is always site-specific and inspired by its surrounding nature or city. My Californian style reflects its nature and climate as well as the international group of people who reside here. For example, when designing the La Peer Hotel, the first hotel in the West Hollywood design district, I looked to the art, furniture, fashion and design communities for inspiration. I wanted to create a space where the community would feel comfortable. First, we create the spaces, and then the spaces create us.

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY CHANGED YOUR BUSINESS? We can draw faster, build faster, print objects with a 3-D printer and design across the globe without having to travel. Although today’s technology is fascinating and advanced and extremely helpful, I still like to use the old-fashioned technique of sketching by hand as the first inspiration for projects.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE CALIFORNIA DESIGN COMMUNITY? California’s soul is rooted in the diversity of the artists and creators relishing in conversations and collaborations that celebrate the uniqueness of voice and expression. Cultural boundaries and norms are lifted, ideas and global influences are diffused here. There is freedom in creating art and architecture as a result of the young design history.

WHICH FEMALE DESIGN ICON INSPIRED YOU THE MOST? I am constantly inspired by all of the amazing women in our industry. I mean, just look at the incredible female entrepreneurs who are gracing the cover of this magazine. What an honor to be included!

WHAT TREND DO YOU SEE EMERGING RIGHT NOW? Well, everybody knows that curved sofas are back in a big way. But in terms of real trends, I don’t think it applies to a particular style as I see some people saying more is back and others saying minimal is still key—it’s all so subjective and it’s great to have that diversity. I think that the biggest movement continues to be to find the special and unique, not the obviously recognizable. To find pieces that are exceptionally made, and one-offs to really give a home a sense of individuality.

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY CHANGED YOUR BUSINESS? It has certainly been helpful, but one has to keep up with it to make it worthwhile. Having a strong online presence that designers can easily reference is absolutely paramount for showrooms these days. Of course, social media is one of our most powerful sources for sharing what we do. However, the downsides are my ever-aching neck, back and right-hand thumb!

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A DESIGN SUCCESS TODAY? Being a multitasker is everything! There are so many hats that one has to wear, so being able to stay aware of what’s going on across so many platforms and thinking ahead about how to make your business more streamlined and client-friendly while running the day to day are all equally important.

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The Comeback Kid

Los Angeles is home to plenty of legends, and Hotel Figueroa is no exception. The 92-year-old downtown destination has undergone a major face-lift, and while the rich history of the former YWCA still takes center stage, the Spanish Colonial landmark is now thoroughly modern. One important aspect of the update: director of experience Seulgi Oh’s Artist in Residence program, which launched with photographer, director and documentarian Estevan Oriol.

“She curated a solo show for me at Milk in 2016,” Oriol says of Oh. “To date that was my best solo show.” Oriol sold half of his displayed pieces that night and took the other half to Hotel Figueroa, along with a few archived selections that all depict his trademark juxtaposition of grit and glamour. For Oh, Oriol was a natural fit. “I’ve seen other programs, but they typically last one night or one week and it just didn’t feel substantial enough to me,” she says. “I wanted something like Claude Monet at The Savoy.”

While the opportunity is currently available by invitation only, Oh says she plans to expand the program for open submissions in the future. As for Oriol, the experience allowed him to display some of his most personal work, including one piece titled L.A. Fingers. “That’s one of my most iconic photos and it represents our city worldwide,” he says. “And to me, Hotel Figueroa is in the heart of the city!”

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Breegan Jane brings in the New Year with Style

Once again, another year has passed. Saying goodbye to 2018 will be bittersweet for some while others will be glad to see it go. But one thing everyone enjoys is celebrating the beginning of the new year in style. We asked interior designer, mommy blogger and lifestyle expert Breegan Jane to share how she plans to make this New Year’s celebration lively and bright. Study up on her party tips that will bring smiles to your guests’ faces and festive accents for your New Year’s Eve gathering.

Go for the gold—AND silver!

When decorating their homes with gold or silver, most people typically choose one or the other. Rarely do they choose both. If you’re one of those decorators, throw the one-color idea out the window for New Year’s Eve! Gold and silver are friends, and they complement each other well. Just be sure to use one as your dominant color, and accent that color with the other. Visually speaking, one color will guide the eye to the other, and that’s exactly what you want your guests to do as they socialize in your space. The warmth of the gold and the cooling tone of the silver will bring visual balance to the overall space.

I’d also suggest bringing in a third color, namely black or white. Black and white are sophisticated, classic colors that enhance metallic colors perfectly. I say use one or the other because of my personal color rule of three: four colors can be too busy, but two, in my opinion, is not enough. Spreading the three-color combination throughout the space will make it look more cohesive. 

Glimmer, shimmer and shine!

New Year’s Eve is a big night, so you should reflect that sentiment with your decor. An easy way to do that is with mirrors. They’re a great way to open up a space, with the reflections creating a look that shows more square footage than what’s actually there. I love using mirrors on tabletops. They add panache to the setting, and they are great way to amplify whatever centerpieces you use for your New Year’s event. 

Candles are another way to spruce up your space for New Year’s Eve and add to your existing light options in your home. Everyone loves the flicker of candles. However, I would highly recommend not burning actual candles and opting for candles that operate on on solar or battery power. Open flames plus inebriated guests can mean trouble! Using flameless candles presents that hint of elegance, but no one will have to worry about potential fire accidents. It is too easy to get faux wax candles with a flickering bulb that have the same visual impact as real candles. And, they’re easy to clean up the next day, also. Win win!

Live Large!

Your New Year’s Eve party is a big deal, so decorate with large profile items. Clear or clear shimmer beach balls in different sizes will present well with your color choices, no matter which colors you choose.

Chrome balloons can also be great accessories that add more vibrance to your party decor. The key to this is not using helium for the balloons (well, not for all of them). Using regular air will allow you to use the balloons to accent tables, counters and even the floor throughout the night. Lay them out all around; it looks beautiful and covers more physical space that way.

Shop Your Home

The holidays can hit us all in our wallets, but New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to. Most women have heard of shopping their closets or beauty stashes, so why not shop your home and create a gorgeous scene for your guests? While it is always important to think of your guests’ comfort when entertaining, that can possibly backfire when it comes to the furniture you use for your New Year’s part. That cushy, oh-so-comfortable sofa will be the first place people go when they get tired as the night goes on. You should consider furniture that is stylish but also promotes conversation and mingling. That said, don’t be afraid to repurpose the chairs in the formal room that never get used, or the furniture that supports outside entertaining. 

By all means grab the fine china sitting in the display cabinet! It’s nice to look at, but if you ever needed an event to use it, New Year’s Eve is the night to do it! They won’t come off as gaudy for this event. In fact, they will elevate the party even more. 

Be the entertainer!

As the host of the best New Year’s Eve party, it is your job to ensure that entertainment happens from start to finish. That starts with the decor, but it will extend to the atmosphere and energy presented to them. That energy means you need to provide the right libations. Champagne will be a must, but save that for the countdown at midnight. One of my soiree favorites is a Moscow Mule. It’s a very light and easy drink, and I serve them every year at my New Year’s Eve socials. 

Moscow Mule

-1 oz. fresh lime juice

-2 oz. Vodka

-1 oz. (12-oz.) can ginger beer

-Fresh mint and lime wedges

Fill two copper mugs with ice. Pour 1 ounce vodka and 1/2 ounce lime juice over ice in each mug. Pour ginger beer into each cup until mostly full. Stir. Garnish with mint and lime wedge to serve.

Last, make sure you have some great tunes! Here are a few songs that are musts for your New Year’s Eve playlist:

Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holding Me Back

Calvin Harris – One Kiss

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

Major Lazer – Light It Up

Outkast – Hey Ya!

Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough

Alex Adair – Dominoes

DJ Snake – Turn Down for What

Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling

Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Usher – Yeah!

Little Mix – No More Sad Songs

Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling

House of Pain – Jump Around

Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’

Charli XCX – 1999

Mariah Carey – Auld Lang Syne

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