Sitting one-on-one with founder and CEO Noa Santos, we talk about the shortcomings of the design industry, how someone becomes a designer, and the people who make up the Homepolish design team.
How does someone actually become an interior designer?
“There isn’t one way to get there but typically people start out in University programs and then go on to work in traditional design firms. Design programs are great because they provide the foundation and general principles… everything from form meets function to movement through a space. But before Homepolish, for an emerging interior designer, the only mainstream career path was through a design firm, to work under someone else for sometimes years and years at a time, executing another’s vision, and then perhaps leaving with a good-natured client fostering you. Building a design business under that model is particularly difficult because it’s entirely word of mouth and most times requires a designer to have a portfolio of work. Yet, for more design associates, they don’t own any of the work they create while working for someone else. It becomes incredibly difficult for a young designer to gain footing, and it results in a lot of young talent cooped up in firms unable to develop their own style preferences and aesthetic sensibilities. Homepolish gives young designers a viable (and faster) pathway to a career. We’re big fans of traditional institutions, such as design schools and firms, but want to make sure that designers who want to strike it out on their own have a pathway to do so.”
Does Homepolish have people in their roster that haven’t gone to design schools then?
“We have a thorough vetting process and a team that works to identify talent whether or not they come through traditional schooling. Taste is the hardest thing to find and the truth is, interior design is an art. You have to toe the line between giving designers a framework of principles in which to operate without stifling their artistry and style. Allowing designers to explore their personal aesthetic is a mainstay for Homepolish.”
The truth is, interior design is an art. You have to toe the line between giving the designer a framework of principles in which to operate without stifling their artistry and style.
Speaking of this framework and aesthetic, is there a ‘Homepolish look?’
“Are there general trends and looks? Looking at the Homepolish Instagram, there are many whitewashed spaces, for example. This is not because of some brand identity we have; it’s due to designer and client tastes at this particular moment. Homepolish is agnostic when it comes to style. We say that we have ‘designers without the ego,’ because we want designers who are committed to carrying out the client’s personal style, not solely their own or even Homepolish’s for that matter.”
So how does a designer become part of the Homepolish team specifically? Describe that vetting process you mentioned.
“There are a bunch of different pathways: designers straight out of design school, designers moonlighting for us as they work at traditional firms, and people coming from nontraditional backgrounds who we have determined are quite qualified to be on our team. You have to test someone’s taste level, technical skill level, their ability to be technologically savvy. Do they have the customer service and personality to make it in our team? (And this is of primary importance to us.) You can be the most talented artist, but design is a dialogue. You have to be able to provide a personal experience for our clients. This aspect of customer care has gone missing in the interior design industry. With art and interior design, there is so much ego. Too frequently designers want to operate in a vacuum, executing their own vision as the client watches on the sidelines, but that’s not how good design operates. If there isn’t a life to tie the space back to, it doesn’t come across as true or authentic.”
With art and interior design, there is so much ego. Too frequently designers want to operate in a vacuum, executing their own vision as the client watches on the sidelines, but that’s not how good design operates.
How does a Homepolish designer get paired with a client once they’re on-boarded to the company?
“Technology and taste. We take several things into account when we match someone: style, scope of work, personality, geography. Most clients pick their designer solely on aesthetic, but design is a journey. It’s important to choose a designer who can speak to the project as well as the personality of the client.”
How do you think a designer helps a client choose their particular style without letting their own aesthetic cloud that judgment?
“Hopefully that designer’s style, if it is the right client-designer style match, will only augment the client’s style. A designer’s style will provide a foundation for steering a client. Just as a client should be learning from a designer, I hope that designers are learning from their clients. That dialogue should help designers stretch themselves and learn.”
Ready to start that interior design dialogue? Book a Homepolish designer!