Monday, April 25, 2005

Top Designers of 2004:
Interview with Lisa Seung

This week we are interviewing Lisa Seung, a member of our Top Designers for 2004.

LF+DG: We know you have a very interesting background. Please tell us about what you did before becoming an Interior Designer and your design credentials.
Lisa
: People are usually a bit surprised when I tell them my background. I have a Ph.D in immunology and spent several years doing research.

LF+DG: In fact you and your husband share a common background.
Lisa: My husband is a radiation oncologist. He also has a Ph.D. We met doing research in the same lab in Chicago.

LF+DG: So what prompted you to switch careers?
Lisa: I changed careers because research was too much of a demand on my time with 3 young kids. (not because I didn't enjoy the work!) Design was always a hobby, but when I decided to pursue design as a career, I went back to school at The Academy of Interior Decorating. Since graduating from that program, I have completed an advanced training program for decorators and continue to further my education by attending various workshops in the field. I am also a member of the Interior Design Network based in Hillsboro (Oregon). I enjoy connecting with other professionals to learn about the latest design concepts and products. I suppose I have always enjoyed problem solving. Now I do it in a more creative environment!

LF+DG: Who or what has been an influence on your design?
Lisa
: My mother was a big influence. She was an interior decorator for a time and has always had a strong interest in both art and floral design. She instilled in me an appreciation for creating an environment that is welcoming and comfortable, not necessarily expensive, but personal and unique. One of my favorite designers, Jeffrey Bilhuber, once said,” You are not investing in furniture. You are investing in living”. I try to remember that when working with clients. We are not just buying THINGS, we are creating an environment that is both wonderful to be in, and functional for their lifestyle.

LF+DG: How do you define good design?
Lisa
: Good design combines a variety of forms, lines, and textures, in such a way that there is a sense of balance and unity in the space. Often that is achieved through the careful use of color. Good design should emphasize a room’s best qualities while creatively playing down the negative features. It does not mean keeping within the boundaries of “traditional” or “contemporary”, but carefully mixing pieces to create a style that is timeless. Everything should work together and look like it belongs. I would cringe if someone came in and said, “Hey, where did you get that lamp?”

LF+DG: If I were to hire you to decorate my home, would people who visit say, “Ah, this is a Lisa Seung home!”
Lisa
: I hope not! My goal is to guide my clients in arranging and selecting pieces that together, with proper color selection, create a look that is uniquely theirs. I try not to impose my own tastes. The space should instead reflect the clients’ personality, incorporating their collections, hobbies, tastes, and existing pieces. I want the space to look like the client, only better than they could imagine for themselves.

LF+DG: Do you come up with a presentation board?
Lisa
: I have in the past and can certainly put one together if that is what the client wishes. Boards are good for commercial jobs when the plan needs to be clearly presented to several people. Residential work is much more personal. I have found that clients really want to be part of the process, e.g., touching fabrics; selecting from options for furniture, lighting, window treatments, etc. I will present them with a floor plan that is a fruition of our discussions, initial selections, and suggestions for pieces I think will work best. From there it continues as a dynamic interaction. Accessories are added as we go.

LF+DG: How do you charge for your services?
Lisa
: Unless I am doing strictly consulting work, my initial consultation for a project is complimentary. I want to see the space, see what the client has, and hear what they want. It is my time to get a sense of their tastes , needs, and budget. If they decide to proceed with a project, I request a retainer for time to prepare floor plans, color studies, and initial selections for window treatments, furniture, etc. Items purchased through me are at list price and I charge an hourly fee for research, design and further consultation time.

LF+DG: What other creative things do you do?
Lisa
: I love photography and have quite a collection of prints, but have not exhibited them. I recently acquired a digital camera and like experimenting! I also enjoy putting together scrapbooks for my kids that summarize each school year. I like to cook, which for me is an exercise in culinary experimentation! My husband says I never make the same thing twice!

LF+DG: How can people interested in Lisa Seung as their interior designer get in touch with you?
Lisa: My firm is Portland Home Decorating (PHD for short). You can email me at lisaseung@comcast.net or call me at 503-502-0818.

Bev & Mike
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