What It Takes To Be A Designer

Posted by Brielle Pastore on Jan 19, 2014 11:30:00 AM

"Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful."
- Hazbat Inayat Khan
Carolyn, Store Stylist
Do you have what it takes to be a designer? Carolyn, our store stylist, is constantly moving things around in our store to make it the most wonderful, appealing and stylish store EVER! Today I sat down with Carolyn for a quick interview to learn more about what it takes to be a designer in today's world.
What determined your passion for design? Carolyn: I enjoy anything that involves being creative so it was hard to decide in high school exactly what path to take. The high school I attended offered many design classes including stained glass and floral arranging, which I really enjoyed. One of my first jobs was working as a floral designer for a local craft store. I graduated college with a degree in Landscape Design and Ornamental Horticulture and began working in Atlantic City, designing for casinos and hotels. It was very challenging and rewarding work. Everything in the casino environment had to be large scale so often times you were designing something that had never been done before. From making 12 foot tall floral arrangements to making giant sized cornucopias and everything in-between, there was never a dull moment. Many times casino executives would ask for help with family member's weddings and parties, so I've designed weddings and parties as well, which were always very rewarding and fun. Eventually it was time to make a change and start a new chapter in my life, so I tried a few other paths along the way, but ultimately missed being creative. I began working at Kensington Furniture about 3 years ago and love the furniture business. It offers a whole new set of challenges and rewards and I'm very grateful to be part of that.

What inspires you? Carolyn: I think inspiration can come from just about anything. Whether it's visual, verbal, or emotional, I think it's more about being open to new ideas and experiences and finding ways to incorporate them into what you do every day. In my case, it's design and I'm always making mental notes when I'm inspired by something so hopefully I'm able to use it some way in the future. For example, I love to travel so inspiration may come from something as concrete and straightforward as visiting other furniture stores or accents stores and getting ideas from something they did, but putting my own twist on it. On the other-hand, it may be more symbolic and emotional. While traveling out west, we went horseback riding in Colorado and spent most of our time enjoying the outdoors. The freedom and easiness that I felt and the closeness to nature inspired me to use natural woods, southwestern patterns, and leather in my designs to hopefully create that feeling for someone else.
What advice would you have for young designers? Carolyn: Try to be true to your design aesthetic and not worry so much about what others think or what others are doing. It's always good to listen to advice, but don't feel like you always have to take it. I've been in situations where I was afraid to take a risk or gave part of a design up to listen to someone else and regretted the decision later. Part of being a designer is to show others your point of view and what's special about you and you don't want to lose that.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? Carolyn: Buying for the store can be frustrating, but at the same time it's a great challenge to choose pieces for the store that are both well designed and offer value. It would be easy to just choose great looking pieces and forget about whether they are overpriced. So, yes it can be frustrating to see a drop-dead gorgeous piece that would look great in our showroom and not be able to move forward with it because I can't justify the cost versus the value of the piece. At the end of the day though, value for our customers along with a great design is what matters most.
What do you like most about designing for Kensington Furniture? Carolyn: The best thing about designing for the showroom is the diversity. Since we represent so many different design styles, I'm able to be creative in so many more ways. It's easy to get into a rut and focus on just one style, but we're always ordering new pieces for the floor and there's something to be excited about every day. One day my focus may be styling a coastal or seashore look and the next it's a modern, sleek design. We are always trying to stay on top of the newest trends and find ways to display them within our showroom. Kensington Furniture's owner, Michael Grossman has a great vision for the store and it always involves staying relevant, looking to the future, and wowing our customers. His forward thinking allows me to continue to be creative and continually change the store display and keep it fresh. I couldn't ask for anything more than that!

Topics: Furniture Design