Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Top Designers of 2004:
Interview with Carol Cornwell

As promised, one of our Top Designers of 2004, based on the business she did with Landfair Furniture, has consented to an interview.

This week, we are speaking with Carol Cornwell. Carol, who operates Colours, has her office at Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery. Carol has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Pacific NW College of Art and an Associate of Interior Design Degree from the Portland Art Institute. She is a member of NWSID and the Portland Art Museum and has been practicing for 10 years.

LF+DG: Carol lets start with who are your influences?
Carol: I was paying close attention during all my History of Design and Art History classes, and I loved discovering how the designs and ideas of the past have evolved into the current thinking. I learned a lot from all the great artists, architects and designers, but one of my favorites was Alvar
Alto. Alto was one architect who truly listened to the needs and desires of his client. He designed his buildings and furniture with ergonomics in mind and was one of the first to do so. Only two of his structures were built in the United States, we are lucky to have one of them right here. The Library at the Abby in Mt. Angel, Oregon is a marvel. He orientated the building on the site, designed the building, designed the furniture and even designed the hardware to best suit the end user.

LF+DG: How do you define good design?
Carol: To me good design is efficient, effective and pleasing to the eye. It answers the question.

LF+DG: Isn’t that pretty subjective. What if pleasing to my eye is Elvis on Black Velvet?
Carol: If you were to be the only person ever to use that room, I suppose that would be fine. Part of my job is to educate you and show you the possibility of ideas that you may have not considered. An Elvis painting is an easy choice for you, let’s go beyond that.

LF+DG: If I were to hire you to decorate my home, would people who visit say, “Ah, this is a Carol Cornwell home!”?
Carol: No, I try not to impose my personal style on my clients. I listen quite intently and go through a lengthy interview process that tries to uncover the needs and expectations of the people involved. There are many things to keep in mind before starting any design project; you should
consider what year the building was built, the style of the building, what the function of the room or area will be, how many people would typically inhabit the space, and then there’s the budget. I also want to know the style preferences of my client, if we are going to be working with any collections, or a favorite piece of furniture. What is the feeling they would like to convey? Since color is a very important factor, we usually spend some time on the colors they would enjoy having in their environment and which colors we should avoid, since colors usually have some emotional attachment and are quite personal.

LF+DG: Do you come up with a presentation board?
Carol: Typically, I only do presentation boards for a commercial job, or one that needs to be approved by several people or groups. My residential clients can generally OK the design concept from photographs, paint chips and fabric swatches, and would rather have me spend my time (and their
money) elsewhere.

LF+DG: How do you charge for your services?
Carol: I charge an hourly fee, but sometimes agree up front to a job fee. It’s an area that we discuss at the beginning to avoid hassles later. The services I provide are all over the board from paint specifications, surface selections, furniture selections, shopping for and installing accessories to designing the interior of an office building down to the art on the wall.

LF+DG: This has been great, Carol. With your background in the arts, what other creative things do you do?
Carol: Besides some sculpture, I like to paint; it’s fun to experiment with all sorts of odd color combinations. Right now I’m working on a couple of canvases. I don’t have a choice really; art is something I just need to do!

LF+DG: Might we see an exhibit here at Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery?
Carol: Some day you may!

LF+DG: You heard it here first. Carol is one of the Top Designers for 2004 here at Landfair Furniture and can be reached at 503.807.7409, and her email is cornwell_carol@hotmail.com.


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