Read up on our conversation with Homepolish's Lauren Martin, based in LA. We talk about everything from Louis XVI settees to design wisdom for a better career.
Photo by Corinne Cobabe.
Always so good to talk to our designers from the other coast over here in HQ, Lauren! To start, tell us a little about your journey coming into design.
“Originally, I wanted to be a fashion designer, but it didn’t exactly stick once I was in college… not my finest hour. Daughter of an architect and interior designer, my early artistic exposure played a large role in prepping me to come full circle back to the interior design industry years ago. I’ve always been obsessed with all things related to the field. The past 15+ years I’ve lived and worked in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, joining Homepolish in the last two years in LA. It’s the best career choice I could have asked for.”
So over those years, how would you say your personal aesthetic developed?
“My personal taste is clean, modern, and minimal mixed with eclectic and layered vintage pieces. I draw my influences from a range of artists and designers from artists Frida Kahlo and Chuck Close, architect Oscar Niemeyer and Rodolfo Dordoni, to even lighting designer Ingo Maurer. I’m always learning ‘how to see’ (as Vincent Wolf puts it), drawing inspiration from anything and everything that makes me feel butterflies.”
I’m always learning ‘how to see’ (as Vincent Wolf puts it), drawing inspiration from anything and everything that makes me feel butterflies.
Wow, your taste really runs the gamut! Could you name one piece of furniture that you personally own that you really love then?
“Actually that’s surprisingly easy! It’s an antique gilded and linen-upholstered Louis XVI settee. I scrimped and saved when I was 20 to purchase it from my first mentor, who did buying trips in France. It was my first investment piece, and it is by far the most feminine item I own. It’s travelled with me across the country twice, been loved in many homes, and makes me smile every time I see it. My style is much more masculine and streamlined in nature, so it’s a counter intuitive choice yet wildly sentimental. It’s currently in my little girl’s room.”
So would you say that your luxe, vintage side blends with your projects?
“Luckily, I’m good at separating my own style from my client’s. For example, my favorite project was a bachelor pad in Venice Beach. The client was in his mid-30s, had just moved, and wanted all-new everything. We went with dark leather and wood pieces with metal accents, vintage rugs, one-of-a-kind art, luxurious textile accessories, and earthy ceramics to lighten and modernize the uber masculine vibe. The overall tone was nothing like that settee!”
When it comes to discovering clients’ tastes, how do you go about it?
“Well, it all starts with having the right tools with you at the first consultation. I always have my laptop with past design presentations already open for fast referencing, automatic sensor tape measure, regular tape measure, paint fan decks, pen, paper, business cards, and iPhone for before pictures. Then to present ideas and concepts to clients, I use InDesign + Photoshop, AutoCAD, 3-D renderings, and physical material samples.”
Wow! Sounds like you’ve got a system! Do you have any other advice for making a successful design career?
“Are you ready for this list? First, measure twice (even three times!), but cut once. Second, I try to schedule client appointments and shopping in the afternoons, leaving my mornings free for admin and design work. Three, add padding to all product lead times. It helps manage client expectations, which may be unrealistic at times. You’ll either be able to lessen the blow of delays, or look like a hero. Four, quality over quantity! Five, surround yourself by people you admire and have different skill sets than your own. If everyone else in the room is more experienced than you, you’re guaranteed to learn a lot! (This kinda works for life in general) Six, keep your overhead low, profit high. Seven, don’t get caught up in career comparisons. It’s tough at times! (Hey, I’m guilty too!) Stay true to your own vision and evolving design perspective. You do you, boo boo.
Holy moly! All good stuff… but what would you say is the golden rule?
“Be transparent and honest with your clients. It creates a deeper bond and earns long lasting trust.”
To learn more about Lauren’s design (and her cute family), go to @lauren_martin_moro!