Bringing the Outside In.
Before an architect draws up the plans, before a contractor gives their estimate, before an electrician wires the first socket, or an installer hangs the first curtain rod, I begin every interior design project with an investigation of what my client loves. We live in a world where there is so much choice it’s easy to get overwhelmed. What at first seems like a very straight forward, up and down decision to make, by days end, that decision is met with hundreds of options—all of which could feasibly work. All of a sudden picking a kitchen light switch cover turns into Fukushima! I find that focusing on what a client loves and helping them get specific about the story they want their environment to tell, helps to assuage some of that anxiety. Beyond the functionality of the space is how one wants themselves and others to feel while dwelling in it. Colors, fabrics, building materials, lighting fixtures etc. all come together to strategically shape that narrative. Paying attention to the scientific balance of colors and shapes the human eye responds favorably to, can spell the difference between a tasteful, cohesive result and a tacky one. Regardless of the concept or style aesthetic I’m looking to achieve, I know that at the end of the day, my clients have to live with it. It’s their home or workspace, and only through true collaboration can we reach an outcome that is mutually satisfying.
This was definitely true of my latest design project. When I sat down with the owner of ZBS Acting Studios and began to understand the philosophy behind his business, I immediately started to get ideas for his space. Being an acting studio for the development of the whole self, it was paramount that the space felt peaceful and spiritually grounding. He made it clear that he wanted the environment to be warm, playful, inviting and inspiring but above all not like a typical acting studio. Status quo acting studios tend to have low popcorn ceilings with dingy gray industrial carpet, gray walls, little to no windows and unforgiving florescent track lights. He wanted it to be a place where his students, parents and faculty would feel so comfortable that they wouldn’t want to leave. As a lover of the great outdoors, he explained to me the importance of incorporating nature into the design. Thinking broadly, we set our sites on bringing the outside in, exploring all aspects of that concept from the most commonly identifiable representations such as natural woods and earth tones, to more whimsical esoteric ideas like outer space.
Mounted in the entry hallways are a moss rendering of the ZBS logo and an antique Mayan calendar made of plaster and stone. In the lounge, a 40 ft wide, floor to ceiling photograph of a forest with lilac fields interspersed, serves as the backdrop for a large wood-slab table that sits on top of a beautiful cowhide rug. A “For Your Consideration” neon pink sign glows brightly above a blown-up image of the solar system in the “Space Room;” while across the hallway sea-glass baubles hang in the windows from rope in the “Beach Room.” In one of three forest-green-painted bathrooms, a “sad clown” painting hangs above the sink staring back at the hand-washer instead of a mirror. In honor of the owner’s father who was a prolific artist, many of his paintings adorn the walls of the main office, giving the environment that personal touch I feel should be at the heart of any interior design—commercial or residential.
For me, a successful interior design project culminates with a happy client and a fully realized concept. The patrons of ZBS will be able to enjoy the natural elements of this atypical acting studio for years to come.