BOF:I know that as a child and prior to trying your hand at acting, you had a passion for interior design. At what point did you realize that you could make a career of it?
AM:It evolved. I put together my first apartment and loved it. I had no money but had so much fun styling it. People would ask for pointer. It was working better for me because it was much easier to be a mother and do this. I could see a finished project where as an audition, I wouldn’t hear a thing. So I hung out a shingle.
BOF: One of the things that I remember most about your apartment is the use of texture and unexpected color. Even in the early days, you put that to practice. I still see that in everything that you touch and love it! Is that something that strive for with each job or does it come naturally?
AM: Im very lucky that it comes naturally. It comes innately and I don’ t have a method to my madness. Juxtoposition of textures and styles are so important, a room can be really layered which is very important.
BOF: When did you get your “big break” -- was it a certain project? Recognition within the industry?
AM:I was an overnight over 14 years. A lot of hard word and it was a slow evolution. First published by traditional home. I sent them pictures and pictures and you don’t hear from them and then one day, I finally heard from them. Once you get a little bit, you are on people’s radar and that helps. Never be discouraged because they have so few projects they can put in a magazine -- they move things around. Never be discouraged. We aren’t just designers, we are own PR people. It’s a lot of work. There is no one big break, it look that’s way to the public. It takes a lot of work.
(Looks like it paid off, she now has a beautiful new book!)
BOF:How do you find the balance between imparting your design direction/ideas and those of the clients? Or do you find that clients trust you completely?
Do most of them trust you completely: No
AM: If i’m lucky enough to get a repeat client, they will. I want it to look like them. It’s me giving them the best of themselves. I wouldn’t do anything I wouldn’t believe in, but am very passionate about it. There is a give and take. I’ve never had client give me a check and say: i’ll see you in 6 months.
BOF:What do you tend to use as a jumping off point for your designs when starting on a room? Do you tend to start with the rug? Fabrics? Where do you begin?
AM:It depends on the space. I love textiles. They say they love “orange” and I’ll start there. There is always one thing that dictates the direction of the room and it’s usually fabric.
BOF:Your spaces seem to evolve. How do you know when a room is finished?
AM:A room is never finished. I still have the same living room that I have had for 12 years. I am always re-tweaking it. A well-designed room is one that you can change around, but never start from scratch. It evolves.
BOF:I know you work a great deal in New York, The Hamptons and the country. Those types of spaces have such a different feel from one another. What is your favorite type of space to design?
AM:It’s like your favorite child, you can’t pick one. I love have a new option/space to design. It’s always fun to be able to work on ground up design. That is the ideal. But I love all of the projects because I love a challenge.
BOF:If a client gives you full creative freedom and they don’t know what their tastes are, how do you put their stamp on the room?
AM:It’s really important to try and eek it out of them so you don’t go in circles. Sit down with shelter magazines. By getting visual cues, I am able to interpret what they want. They may not know what they like or don’t know about it, but press them.
BOF:We love your lighting line for Urban Electric. The pieces have such modern lines. We have heard you say the lighting is like the jewelry of the room. Where do you draw your inspiration to make the lighting have such a big impact?
AM:I love jewelry, my first job was at Christies and in the jewelry department. I have been spoiled by being exposed to the most beautiful in the world. Biggest inspiration.
BOF:I remember so much about your apartment when I used to babysit fifteen years ago, according to your book, you were just starting out. What is the mood of your apartment now and how often are tempted to change it up?
AM:My home is my haven -- it’s casually elegant. It’s elegant and comfortable. I always make sure I have comfortable chairs, elegant pieces, good lighting. I’m so happy to come home. It’s better than any hotel.
I loved catching up and gleaning as much knowledge as possible from this design star. Just days later, look what arrived on my doorstep!
And one lucky winner will win a copy of Amanda Nisbet's new book, Dazzling Design. It is a great read with gorgeous images but also great design tips. Here's how you win:
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Good Luck and thanks Amanda for the book! I'm loving mine!