Ivy "Behind The Design" Interview, November 2016
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How did you get where you are today?
Growing up in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, I had very supportive parents who always encouraged my creative and curious personality. Initially, I enrolled in the nursing program at university, but after the 3rd (and final) attempt at chemistry, my mother kindly redirected my academic endeavors towards a major in interior design. Since then, I have had several career changes, but I always returned back to the world of interiors, opening Urban Dwellings in 2005. Based in Portland, Maine, we moved in 2015 up to the East End neighborhood.
Urban Dwellings is known for reinventing spaces with a blended aesthetic – how do you achieve this?
Designing spaces for an individual is extremely personal so we focus our time in the initial stages to discover the daily rituals of a client. This research drives the creative process and creates an intimate connection to each home we design. Following this practice has succeeded in unearthing treasured moments that fold into our individualized and reinvented interior spaces.
In your opinion, how important are surrounding environments to a space?
The environment is the very basis of how we find inspiration in the outside world and interpret it into an inhabitable space. Travel, climate or even your neighbor can influence the different styles of comfort and beauty that you bring into the home – just keep your eyes open at all times, you never know when inspiration will strike!
How do you stay current and source interesting, new-to-market products and materials to incorporate in your designs?
I travel throughout the country and Europe, looking for those one-of-a-kind treasures. Be it a trade show, flea market, or visit to a local craftsmen, all methods carry a focus and relevance in design, both to past and present day trends.
Why is playing an active role in design education important to you?
I have been lucky to have had mentors throughout my life and career who have taught me that success is steeped in education, hard work, passion, and dedication. Sharing our knowledge and wisdom to the next generation is what we should all strive for, so I have tried my best to pay it forward. Teaching at the Boston Architectural College and mentoring a few designers as well, I hope they too will understand this importance.
How does designing make you feel?
I have dedicated my life to design, and each time I reveal a final project to a client, my heart swells. The dedication and hard work is completely worth it for this moment. We (Interior Designers) play such an intimate role in the life of our clients, and knowing that they are spending their most cherished experiences in a space I designed, well, you just can’t beat it.
You regularly collaborate with architects, craftsmen and artists to complete your design projects. What are some strategic tactics to maintain these relationships and keep them healthy?
Respect. Honesty. Integrity.
Who are some of your favorite Portland, ME vendors that you work with?
We love the crew over at Pistol Pete’s for upholstery work! My work room for custom window treatments and pillows is the best on the East Coast, so I keep that top secret…Other dear friends include Mougalian Rugs, Noyes Delivery/Storage, and Downeast Woodworks for custom cabinetry.
When you start a new project, how do you get to know your client and the space in order to achieve individualized design?
We work through a process of programming which allows us to gain a greater sense of the personal needs and goals of the space. Design is preferential, and deeply personal. I’ve seen quite a few spaces that are without a doubt beautiful, but lack the understanding of how a space needs to be utilized.
In your opinion, what’s the most essential element to a room?
Lighting! Lighting dictates how we use space, and although it may not always be physical, it is able to manufacturer movement and emotion (without the loss of floor space!)
Why did you join Ivy?
Urban Dwellings joined Ivy to reduce the repetitive practices that hindered our productivity. We were using several programs for separate purposes, but we knew there had to be a software that was able to do it all in one, and lucky us, we found it in Ivy.
How has Ivy helped streamline your workflow?
With the click of a button, a proposal can be converted into an invoice for payment, and then into purchase orders. Having all these steps, which used to be separate entities, in one program means our designers aren’t loosing time on administrative work, and can instead focus on what they do best, designing.
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
We love the ability to input images of products within proposals/invoices. With this feature, our clients are able to visualize the design while reviewing for final approval. We find there is much less confusion and pushback now that they can see exactly what they are buying into.