Defining Your Voice As a Designer

James Saavedra shares his thoughts on defining your voice as a designer. >>

The last instalment we explored the benefits and versatility that comes from selecting timeless, best quality, foundational pieces. Whether these key pieces are purchased new, custom made or sourced from vintage dealers – the end result is always the same – no regrets, sophisticated style, and years of enjoyment.

Having had time to think about that little lesson, I realized that you are better served if I started at the beginning – so to speak- and then, one day, we can get into the keys of my design formula.

No doubt that there are a multitude of skills and elements in the amalgam that culminates in a successful interior- infinite if we kept a tally. There is also that intrinsic factor- natural ability and affinity for knowing how to piece the puzzle together so that something truly magical is created. Clients and friends will say “ I want you to sprinkle some of that James magic.”  Is it magic- I used to immediately say no but from where I stand today- I have a different opinion some days. ( I should have had a clue when around the age of eight or so I insisted that my new mini blinds be three specific shades of blue. ( Equally represented of course.)

Most of us “in the biz” posses these natural gifts, but I always say that beautiful interiors are far more than pretty pillows and perfect paint pallets. This I know for sure.  One episode of Clean Sweep proved this point to me forever changed the way I approach design.

Without question – honing your skills takes patience; being afforded time for copious amounts of practical application; and, of course, the various opportunities to create a vision. And, like with any skill- eventually it becomes second nature. At some point ( pay careful attention here ) it will CLICK.

Yes, click…as in an actual, physical, sensation that signals a great big “AHHH”. Take note of this moment because that click will be in your arsenal from then on. Instantly you will know when a design choice is a “yes” or a “no”. I will even bet to predict that you will begin to truly understand the crucial importance of conveying emotional quality in your work… professional or not.

This click is only the beginning — so try and think of it as a harbinger of an even more important realization. ( As if this isn’t enough? )  The real magic happens when you can succinctly, without question, define that which is your voice as a designer.

Take a moment to consider and earnestly process this.

What is your voice as a designer? Some may call it a view point. Either way what is it? Can you clearly explain and define it?

  1. It is neither a style nor an aesthetic. And certainly not a trend.
  2. You should be able to sum it up in one sentence.
  3. Ten out of ten times – it will be a direct reflection of your core values as you—a person—not a profession.

Is this something meaty for you to chew on?

This concept of defining your voice—connecting to your core—is something that I also know is for certain. It’s an “exercise” I participate in with every student I mentor, intern I take on, and assistant I employ. In fact, last week I was coaching a fellow designer and helping her peel away the layers to get to her core. And this is a talented, successful woman who has been actively in this field for 13 years.

Think of the process the same way you would for creating an amazing reduction for a fabulous meal.

You always start out with a lot of liquid and bring it to a little boil. Then you turn the heat down low and simmer your stock slowly. You add spices to your liking and after a little patience and work you are left with a rich, condensed, marriage of all the components you began with. Only now, a little goes a very long way.

So what happened that day on set filming another episode of Clean Sweep with Sherrie Tarvin, as single mother with two children, doing the very best she could to make certain that what she could provide on the outside sufficiently reflected that which was on the inside?

This became the day I knew that everyone deserves a life infused with beauty and style. 

It is the core philosophy that has become my interiors brand and the key component that helped me to reduce it even further to my umbrella philosophy that: it can be easy or it can be beautiful. Always choose beauty.

This is the beginning. It is your foundation that will always be timeless, successful, and rewarding. You may need to simmer it for a bit but in the end it will be rich and just to your liking.

Saavedra Design Studio, author of this feature, is a Interior Design firm in Los Angeles, California. James Saavedra would love to talk to you about designing a commercial or residential space expressly for you.

You can also find a full list of all our global mentors [ who are top professional interior designers ] on our Mentors Page.


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One Response to “Defining Your Voice As a Designer”

  1. Heather Blue Harkovich Says:

    Beautifully and intelligently worded. A great read and wonderful insight. Thank you for sharing your thoughts


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