For the month of March Britany, Mandy and I will be conducting interviews with a few of our favourite people. If our readers enjoy these Q & A’s, we hope to make it a monthly feature where we spotlight new and talented designers.
Our first designer is a wonder friend of mine – the very gifted Emily Pratt.
Just a few things to know about Emily before we jump into the Q & A: Emily is a midwestern girl, born and raised in the Chicagoland area where she continues to reside. She graduated from the Harrington College of Design (our shared alma mater), with a BA in Interior Design. For a number of years Emily worked at Pier 1 Imports where she progressed from sales into a customer service role. Once she graduated, the “dreaded” job hunt began. Her first position was as an intern at Leslie Jones & Associates, a high-end residential firm located in Chicago’s West Loop. When Emily’s internship finished, she was hired on a part-time basis. She quickly proved herself an asset to the firm and was promoted to a full-time designer. She recently moved to Shive Hattery and works in the Design Organization department. Her projects are mostly focused in healthcare and education, though she gets to dabble in corporate design once in a while. This helps keep her ideas fresh and the change keeps her on her toes.
What led you to your current job?
I became friends with one of the designers at Interior Image Group. We kept in contact and tried to meet at least once a month in Chicago to catch up. Eventually she left the company and started to work for Design Organization. At one of our get-togethers she let me know that they were hiring and that I should apply. I quickly applied for the position and voila.
What are some of the perks of your current job?
One of the great perks of my job is being able to travel for site visits. I was recently fortunate enough to travel to Florida where it was 80 and sunny, which was quite the contrast to Chicago in February. I love my office’s work environment – it is relaxed, creative and the team works well together.
Do you have any tips for “up and coming” designers?
Make as many connections as possible! You hear a lot of people say this, I know, but it is so true. The majority of designers I know in the industry found their current position through a personal connection. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I have found it much better to ask questions, no matter how silly the questions may seem. It shows that you are curious and willing to learn.
What is the best design advice you have received?
When presenting options to a client, love everything you show. They may pick the one option that you were just “okay” with and you will kick yourself for it.
How do you begin your design process?
I typically start my design process by finding a finish that I want to work around. Usually the schemes are based on a carpet tile and I build my color palette from there. I find inspiration from numerous sources and start the design process from there.
How do you get inspired?
I tend to draw my own inspiration from seeing projects; either from featured spaces in design magazines, online, or in person. I keep an image “inspiration” folder on my computer and categorize things by application type. I also take plenty of pictures on my phone when I find something inspiring. The photos help for reference when I am working on a project so I can easily refer back to that particular space. I not only take photos of things I like, but of things I don’t like as well; for example, that awkward tiling layout you saw in the bathroom when you went out for dinner and want to make sure you don’t recreate that in your own project. I have that captured on my phone as a reminder of what not to do. I am constantly analyzing spaces; no matter where I am, I try to observe as much as possible about that room.
Describe your personal design style in 5 words.
Practical, Soothing, Textural, Inviting, Natural.
Where is your go-to shopping spot?
Putting aside Target, my go-to shopping option would be TJ Maxx, Marshall’s or Home Goods. I love picking up my favourite Starbucks drink and browsing in the relaxed atmosphere. I always walk out with something.
Do you have a current favourite design trend?
My favorite design trend is modular focus walls. I find myself drawn to reclaimed wood planks or metal panels, as seen in the photos below.
Hudson Company – Reclaimed Mushroom Wood
Fry Reglet Architectural Metals – Graph Modular Wall system
How would you make a large impact in a room?
It depends on how the space is used and the budget, but an accent wall is always a great way to create visual interest in a room. Bold paint colors, custom wall coverings, and/or unique light fixtures are always great options as well.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
If this photo above does not capture what my guilty pleasure is then I don’t know what will. I snack all day long and love a tasty sweet treat! It doesn’t help that South Bend Chocolate Company Chocolate Café is a floor below my office, and Designer Desserts cupcakes is two blocks away. I apologize if these photos make you drool or become incredibly jealous of my office location.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my friend Emily Pratt. Join us next week when Britany checks in with Mari Miller Lucci.
Cheers – Carrie