For our second super-hero we head over to L.A. where we meet top interior designer Andrea Michaelson. We first met Andrea last year at her home near Beverley Hills (after getting lost driving around L.A. for some time!). Behind her home lies her studio, which is nothing short of breath-taking. Andrea’s been working with high-end clients in L.A. for the last 25 years.
With a background in fashion, architecture & interior design, what struck us when we met Andrea was the lengths she would go to find the perfect product, and how it really showed in the projects she works on. We talk to her about European vs. U.S. design, how to build a successful interior design career & the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach.
On switching from architecture to interior design
I studied architecture in college because it was a real passion, but mid-way through the programme I realised the scale and the turnaround time was a little frustrating for me. You design a building and realise it’s gonna be 3-5 years… and by then your head’s somewhere else.
I like the minutia of design – the real detail. So, I switched to interiors and started out doing a bit of commercial, but really the last seven years I’ve done mostly high-end residential.
On the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach
I think it’s a pretty classic issue that there’s such beautiful architecture around, but the interiors and architecture are often in no way related. If it’s done by the Architect it’ll all be very one note and succinct, but perhaps less inviting and comfortable. If it’s done by the Designer then it can be very disconnected with the building. So to me it’s very important to have a global view of the space, from the interior architecture down to the detailing of it all.
On how to build a successful career
It’s really clear to people what I do when they look at my work, so it’s rare that I’ll have an issue because the client wanted to achieve something else. I think to have a clear vision for yourself, who you are and the work you do is so important. Then of course, dedication, hard work and really wanting to please the client. The most difficult part is client relations. I don’t have a humungous group of clients, but I do a lot of repeat work and develop strong relationships with my clients, because that’s what’s needed in order for me to do my job.
On the recent loft project in downtown L.A. in the arts district
I love designing lofts because every inch counts and yet you have to think of the space as one.
The boundaries are strict here because, for example, you’re trying to redesign a kitchen or bathroom and you have venting that’s stacked from the building below. You have very limited walls that you can play with and part of it is trying to clean up the lines in a classic way where the architecture looks clean, and then also add finishes that provide a little bit of counterpoint.
On what makes it all worthwhile
My favourite moment on a project is when I realise that the client has complete and total trust in me and that is when I do my best work. I aim to meet my client’s needs 100% but part of that is really being able to filter their desires and push their boundaries a little bit.
Even if they show you an image they love, for me it’s about interpreting what they love about it and using that in a way that looks fresh and new. I aim to give them something that they didn’t see by themselves and that they weren’t expecting.
On finding the right products
I try to look at as much as possible when sourcing, part of that is today made much easier through digital shopping. I just submitted these outdoor chairs from a supplier on eporta that I had never seen before – I’m always looking for something new!
What I’ve found is that I can do a lot more research now at my desk, and now I find I’ll walk into a showroom here or in New York or wherever and people will look at you like you’re from another planet, you’re almost startling them because nobody buys in person anymore!
Obviously I source from all over so I can’t get everywhere but I really do try to see things in person, and if that’s online, then I ask for a chip, a sample or finish, and more images.
Having a big selection and really scrutinising products is a little more time consuming but worth it. It can be that one special thing that really distinguishes a project.
On European vs US Design
I do really like to source a lot from European suppliers. I don’t mean to sound like a snob, but I think the quality of materials and what you find there is elevated. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing resources here in America, but I look to Europe for 50% of my aesthetic I would say.
On her favourite eporta items
You can find out more about Andrea and her work at andreamichaelsondesign.com
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