Interior design matchmakers aid relocation process

Whether it’s corporate or personal space, moves must be designed

Designs range from traditional to exotic

By Barbara Summers

Designing interior space in offices and homes becomes a more complicated and crucial component of successful business and real estate transactions with each passing year.

Coupled with the myriad design solutions that can be devised is the vast array of other considerations, particularly environmental and life-safety issues, to which the design must be sensitive.

As a vehicle to introduce those needing design services to the Los Angeles interior design community and to expedite locating and selecting the right designer for a particular project, the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID/LA) established its Designer Selection Service (DSS) in 1994 as a complimentary service to the public.

Three years and some 100 projects later, the results are a broad range of design solutions from traditional to exotic. They include work on residential projects in all price ranges, corporate and institutional assignments, retail outlets and even limousine, recreational vehicle and yacht design.

An important reason for the success of the matches has been the time taken up front in discussing goals and budgets before clients review designer portfolios. Through this process, the client selects designers to interview.

Designer tasks

Among the interior designer’s tasks are developing interior plans and drawings, designing built-ins and cabinets, specifying lighting and fixtures, selecting furnishings and fabrics, preparing documents and specifications for contractors and fabricators, and managing the design process to conclusion. The interior designer also works closely with architects and engineers on projects.

There are still those who mistakenly believe that interior design is a luxury service. While hourly fees range from $75 – $350, some projects are contracted on a flat design fee basis, while others are contracted on a design fee and cost plus percentage for furnishings ordered.

The value of design in doing business in a traditional office is well known, but today’s nontraditional office is quickly gaining popularity as a place to transact business.

For example, Douglas Pierce Hiatt, ASID, who has created special, “personal spaces” for a host of international business owners also creates environments in planes, trains and automobiles.

The interior design of a limousine may appear to be universal, but some are created with exquisite sofa-like seating, discreetly displayed electronic controls, computers, fax and phone. The carpeting can be custom designed with monograms. The color palette can reflect elements of a rainbow, while interior appointments embrace fine details such as fresh floral arrangements in bud vases of cut glass, set in holders to match the door


Corporate conversion

The same concept is incorporated in custom airplane interiors, evoking a corporate look to reflect personal style. All of these factors are considerations in creating an environment conducive to conducting business.

On another design project that took Los Angeles interior designers to London, the challenge was to transform a Georgian House into offices for a rising record company.

Richard Branson’s V2 Record Co. hired Los Angeles’ Ergo Design Works Inc. to create an atmosphere representing mainstream and alternative music. The biggest task for June R. Scott, ASID, partner Lory Johannson and the firm’s architectural staff was structural as they converted a small concrete basement bunker in a damp and chilly climate into a warm and appealing dining room, bar and lounge that also included the addition of a ceiling

mural. In this case, the client had the desire and wherewithal to invest in distinctive styling for image, fun and profit.

In a totally different kind of project, Ergo took an Airstream trailer, which can be designed in a variety of stylings, and transformed it into a movable retreat for a display at the Los Angeles Arboretum Garden Show. The interior became an inspiring space of Zen tranquility to be used for meditation, massage, aroma therapy and beauty regimes.

Interior developer and designer Sandra Costa, ASID, brought a vital understanding of interior design and construction to the building of the “Brentwood Country Estates” in Brentwood where the homes range from $4 million to $7 million. Teaming with architect Robert E. Earl, AIA, and Barry Hilton of Hilton Development, the goal was to attract the entrepreneurial buyer. All four estates built have sold.

In a completely different realm, Costa was assigned a fast-track task from an international law firm needing to relocate practically overnight to a 8,500 square feet office space. The design and reconstruction included elegant contemporary libraries, executive offices and secretarial stations, and was accomplished in 12 days on 24 hour shifts.

Lifestyle decisions

Corporate relocation involves another kind of challenge where an understanding of home design and business priorities is important to the interior design consciousness as people try to reestablish a lifestyle in a new area.

For example, one couple was planning a move from southeast Florida and contacted DSS to “take charge” of the West Coast details of this cross country relocation. Their new home in Westlake Village was in escrow but needed to have decorative decisions organized for all rooms via telephone, mail and facsimile.

The selection process unfolded seamlessly with three candidates submitting their resumes and following up by phone and letter with the client. Laurel Neiswander, ASID, was selected and began meeting with the Realtor, visiting the property, following up with discussions and budget decisions and sending fabric samples overnight so orders could be placed before the client moved in.

On the other side of the world, a Japanese couple who were building in Japan and wanted their new home to have the “L.A. Look,” contacted DSS. Soon they had selected Michael Payne, ASID, and were discussing their needs and how they could interpret the Los Angeles style in Japan.

Because each interiors assignment, while involving basic design and construction issues, is unique in its own right, the importance of a good match between designer and client is essential.

It is also why the ASID’s complimentary Designer Selection Service has become such a powerful tool for those seeking quality, cost effective design solutions.

The Designer Selection Service can be accessed by phone (310) 657-7699 or through ASID/LA’s new website at

Barbara Summers is Director, Designer Selection Service, for the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers. The Designer Selection Service can be accessed by phone (310) 657-7699 or through ASID/LA’s website at

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