26th August 2022 | IN EXPERT INSIGHT | BY SBID ShareTweetPinterestLinkedIn Can you describe your current job? My current job is Creative Director at Pia Design – my own design studio. Our studio is currently myself and two full time interior designers. I oversee all the projects and present designs to our clients and set the creative direction of each project – my team are super talented at creating 3D visuals and detailed specification documents to deliver our ideas to the client. What is your background and how did you get into interior design? I had quite an academic start to my education and career – I completed the International Baccalaureate and then did a Foundation course in Art & Design and then a degree in Interior Architecture at Kingston University. I knew from my teens that I wanted to be an interior designer – my family moved country every two years throughout my childhood so I quickly learnt the importance of ‘making a house a home’. I was also interested in psychology, and interior design allows me to combine my creative passion with my interest in understanding people. One of my favourite parts of the project is interpreting the brief and developing a design tailored to the client’s taste. Describe an average day in your job role. My days can be varied but typically I start the day with a team call to review project progress and our to-do lists for the day. I’ll then catch up on my emails and urgent payments / invoices before heading out to site visits – sometimes I have two or even three site visits in a row. Then it’s back to the studio to review the work of my design team from the day, catching up on more emails, and occasionally I’ll have evening calls with my clients who are in different time zones or too busy to speak during the day time. After dinner, I’ll usually sit down with my iPad and browse Instagram or Pinterest or read magazines for an hour or two, saving inspiration ideas for our current projects. Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most and/or find the most rewarding? I love the conceptual part of the project the most – working out who our client is and what they like, often reading between the lines or drawing inspiration from what they already own or from their artwork. It’s great to see their reactions to the initial concepts and then build the designs up from there – the most rewarding part is of course seeing the finished result of our designs and a happy client! Photo Credit: Mary Wadsworth Is there anything new you are excited to be working on? We have just completed a really exciting commission on a Royal Estate and are now moving onto a number of new projects in central London. We are also getting to the fit out stage on one of our large new-build projects in St Albans, on which we have been working on for nearly three years now. We went to see it last week and the Dinesen flooring had been laid and the bespoke staircase was being installed – it’s going to be a stunning house! What do you find the most challenging aspects of your job? Keeping all the plates spinning! We typically have between 10-15 projects at any one time, all at various stages, and we take on project coordination for many of our projects as well… so a lot of what we do is organising and keeping on top of timelines to make sure projects run efficiently and on time. There can be a lot of unknowns during the building works stage so often we have to be quick to rethink ideas and find solutions on the spot if things don’t pan out how we intended on site. What do you wish you knew before working in the field? That it’s about 20% design and 80% admin and organising! I think in my early years I was ignorant to the amount of technical knowledge that a designer has to build up – I still learn something new from every project. The pretty design part of the job is barely a quarter of the job, the rest is knowing how to implement it correctly and seeing it through to reality. Photo Credit: Mary Wadsworth What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance? Trust your intuition and knowledge, don’t be discouraged by disagreements and stand up for yourself! There are a lot of big egos in this industry and it’s important to believe in your vision and sometimes you have to stand your ground to see your vision through. What has been your favourite project to work on? Photo Credit: Mary Wadsworth We recently worked on the redecoration of a large country manor in the North Downs which was in dire need of updating. The client owned a lot of heirloom furniture pieces that they wanted to bring back to life and was excited to work with us from a sustainability perspective. We were careful not to rip out anything that was still in good condition, choosing instead to repair, reupholster and rejuvenate everything from existing joinery to the furniture. The client was so happy when she saw her home of many years and inherited furniture pieces lovingly restored that she cried tears of joy. What do you think is the biggest problem the interior design industry faces? Construction is one of the most polluting industries in the world and interior design is unfortunately a guilty party to the waste created. I think the industry needs to adapt and change quickly to focus on more sustainable ways to refurbish and I believe that designers are not only responsible for implementing this change but that we have the power to set the direction of change by helping our clients make more planet-friendly decisions during their renovation project. Which people do you admire the most in the industry and why? I am a huge admirer of the Finnish Architect / Designer Joanna Laajisto – I love the way her designs are a contemporary take on classic Scandinavian design and her focus on sustainability in her material selection. I am also in awe of Sophie Asbhy and how she has built a successful brand and business, as well as her involvement in setting up the United in Design initiative. Photo Credit: Mary Wadsworth Why did you decide to join the SBID? I decided to join the SBID to feel a sense of community within the interiors world and to be involved and connected with new suppliers and trade events. It’s also really important for the types of clients that we work with that we can demonstrate a high level of professionalism, which being a member of the SBID’s international community provides. Questions answered by Pia Pelkonen, Founder and Creative Director, Pia Design. Visit Profile If you’d like to feature your product news here, get in touch to find out more. If you’d like to become SBID Accredited, click here for more information.