F R E Q U EN T L Y A S K E D Q U E S T I O N S
Lisa Livoni Art
Designers can visualize the big picture and know the steps to make it happen. They also have access to sources and strategies that are generally unknown to the public. Their purpose is to come up with results that go above and beyond what clients could have done on their own.
No matter the scope of my clients' projects, and no matter their own creative talents, they've all benefited by working with a professional - even if it’s just on a consultation basis.
I used to think it was my formal design education but at this point, after 30 years, I’d say it’s my experience. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go, I know what works and what doesn’t, and I have good resources. I've also developed a design process and have put systems in place that make projects flow more efficiently and transparently. This saves time and costs to the client.
W H Y H I R E A N I N T E R I O R D E S I G N E R ?
W H A T S E T S Y O U A P A R T F R O M O T H E R D E S I G N E R S ?
It starts with a telephone or online interview. I learn about the project and the type of service that the person is looking for. If it seems that we could be a good fit, I follow up with an on-site consultation. The consultation is tailored to the clients' needs and the project's scope.
H O W D O W E G E T S T A R T E D ?
W H O A R E Y O U R I D E A L C L I E N T S A N D W H A T I S T H E F I R S T B I T O F A D V I C E Y O U G I V E T H E M ?
It’s important to me that clients realize the value in working with a designer. Even if they've never hired a designer in the past, or know exactly what we do, if they understand that they will get the best results, an aesthetically cohesive design, and a smart strategy for allocating their budget, it will be a mutually enjoyable and more productive relationship. Clients who trust me and are willing to say "yes" to ideas that are a little outside their comfort zone are always the ones who are the most excited and satisfied with the final outcome.
When contractors are part of the project, my ideal clients do not ask them to make design decisions. (And, ideal contractors know when not to answer and also realize the value a designer brings to the table). This results in a compromised and disappointing design or a matter of expanded costs in order to make the correction.
I initially advise clients to write a list of reasons why they want to undertake their project and what goals they have in mind. It's also important that they establish their budget and think of it as an investment that will affect their daily lives.
W H A T I S Y O U R F A V O R I T E P A R T O F A N I N T E R I O R D E S I G N P R O J E C T ?
To say that it is installation or photo-shoot day discounts all the pleasure I find during the entire project, including the relationship I build with clients. But, these two days reflect the culmination of what we've created together. The vision, the drawings, the sourcing, and even the paperwork have been realized and finalized. It's a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and seeing clients so excited is most rewarding.
I strongly believe that our environment greatly affects our daily lives. So I strive to create functional spaces that make people’s lives easier (organized, comfortable and less cluttered). When I can also make them beautiful and timeless, then I’ve served my clients well and I feel good knowing I've changed a space for the better.
My motto is "Simplicity with Significance". My designs are rooted in my knowledge of the architectural and design styles that have evolved throughout the ages. I believe in quality over quantity and subtlety embellished with a single wow. That is, I like to create a quiet, unified space and then add an unexpected "wow" element. This can be done with color, wall coverings, tile, or a show-stopping piece of furniture, for example.
My math background compels me to pay special attention to proportion, scale, balance and harmony through shapes, patterns, color, and both visual and tactile texture. As Leonardo di Vinci may have said, "Everything connects to everything else".
W H A T I S A T T H E H E A R T O F Y O U R W O R K ?
W H A T L E D T O O N E O F Y O U R R O O M S B E I N G F E A T U R E D O N H G T V ?
I’ve been fortunate to participate in seven Designer Showhouses in San Francisco, Napa, and Marin including one in Ross which was selected to be featured on HGTV’s “Sensible Chic.” It was a third-story, octagonal dining room with a turret ceiling. Instead of costly repairs to the walls and tall ceiling, I upholstered them all in dusty blue silk. It would not be a practical solution for all homes, but for a showcase, and for a t.v. show, it was beautiful and dramatic. It looked like a gigantic jewelry box.
W H O D O I H I R E F I R S T, A C O N T R A C T O R O R A D E S I G N E R ?
Ideally, hire a designer first. He/she is the person who will spend time getting to know you, your family, your needs and aspirations. It’s the designer’s job to design the best space accordingly to your lifestyle, how color schemes affect your mood, which styles you are attracted to and so on. These are key considerations to make before asking a contractor to implement them.
The General Contractors that I prefer to work with understand and appreciate the role of a designer. They know the difference between construction and design and realize that it is a collaborative process.
Most of my clientele live in the Napa Valley, Marin County, or San Francisco but I will travel further, and out of state, under the right circumstances. I’ve also helped people long distance through online methods. Today's technology makes these types of projects fairly easy.
C A N Y O U W O R K W I T H S O M E O N E L O N G - D I S T A N C E ?
W H E R E D O Y O U S H O P ? C A N I P U R C H A S E M Y O W N F U R N I T U R E ?
For the widest selection of furnishings, I shop at the San Francisco Design Center. Sometimes I bring clients with me. There are no retail stores or online sources that offer the range of product that Designs Centers do. I also have access to virtually every fabric available in my own office. With any project requiring fabric, I present samples to my clients and use my own workrooms to produce the goods. I also have good relationships with Bay Area artists and artisans. There is also an option for clients to purchase their own furnishings.
W H A T I S T H E D I F F E R E N C E B E T W E E N A D E S I G N E R A N D A D E C O R A T O R ?
Designers are formally trained at an accredited institution, pass proficiency exams, and earn a degree. They take courses (many taught by architects) in space planning, drawing blue prints with electrical, plumbing, and mechanical plans, color theory, fabric science, and building codes. My own curriculum also included a landscape design course taught by a landscape architect. Decorators do not have this background and there is no legal requirement for them to have it. Ethically, they cannot call themselves designers.
W H E R E D I D Y O U G O T O D E S I G N S C H O O L ?
I have a degree in Architectural Interior Design from FIDM in San Francisco. I loved a year-long course, in particular, called “The History of Art and Architecture”. The morning before each class, I'd catch the first MUNI bus to Union Square, load up on coffee from the cafe next door, and then savor the next 3 hours learning about furniture and architectural styles and how they reflected the socio-economic and political demographics at the time. We started in 3000 BC in Egypt and at the end of the year, had made it to early 20th century Frank Lloyd Wright. This knowledge has been an invaluable foundation for me in designing rooms that make sense.
While this was my favorite course, I undertook all other design courses needed to fulfill the degree's requirements. I was taught by working designers and architects, including a landscape architect, all of whom gave me a realistic and well-rounded education.
W H A T I S Y O U R P R O U D E S T D E S I G N M O M E N T ?
Each time a client comes back to me with a new project or refers me to a friend is a successful and a proud moment. I feel grateful to say that most of my business comes from repeat clients or referrals.