Be Kind, Design
Monday, October 10th, 2011
interview by Lesley Stanley
photo by Drew Reynolds
Chicago-based interior designer M. Grace Sielaff on what it takes to make it in the world of design:
The client isn’t always right, but as designers, we work with our clients and are fully dedicated to our client—protecting, advising, and informing them throughout the stages of the project and development before anything goes wrong.
Traveling has a lot to do with inspiration. In the mid-’80s, I traveled to Asia, where there’s a lot of things you don’t know about until you take it in and bring it home. I took those colors, patterns, architecture, fabrics, artifacts—anything I found—and incorporated it into my designs.
I will hire someone with an engaging personality over a good portfolio, but they must also be talented. You have to have a great personality and an absolute determination to do the work. I prefer someone calling me rather than emailing, because I get about 50 emails a month for potential internships and employment. I don’t have time to read resumés, so I prefer a call.
I believe in myself. There are a lot of great designers, but I know I’m good and talented. If you know you’re gonna be a designer and be successful, you need to know in your heart it’s for you, because it’s not for everyone. My job is fun because I’m passionate about what I do.
You have to stay fresh to stay on top of the competition. Every night before I go to bed, I study the trends, fashions, and forecast what’s new and hot in the marketplace as well as sustainability practices. Social media has placed us on top of our fans. We have to be on the cutting edge of design in order for them to like us.
When you’re happy, happiness comes to you. My industry is very small, and when my peers come up to me they say, “Grace, you are the happiest person I know.” It’s because that’s what keeps me on top—that’s what keeps me successful and young. You’ve got to have a positive outlook in life.
Tagged with: M Grace Sielaff