Quark sets out to meet decoration professionals. For this first interview, we met Coline Thomas, interior designer. She tells us about recent trends and her day-to-day job.
Hello, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Coline, I'm 23 and I've been an interior designer since March 2018
In which region do you work?
I live in the Grand Est, more precisely in the Vosges. Most of my clients are remote clients. So I work all over France. I recently worked in the Basque Country, Pyrénées-Orientales, and quite a few in the Paris region.
Career and first projects
What is your background?
I am 23 years old and I have been working as a decorator for almost 3 years. I had a chaotic school career and then an unexpected opportunity. I decided to start my own account, first out of passion and I gave myself 1 year to succeed. On the theoretical level, I have no training. I have my baccalaureate and that's it.
I grew up in a family of artists, so creativity was part of my upbringing.
What was your first opportunity?
I lived 5 years in the south and I wanted to set up my company. I was starting from zero. I was put in touch with an artisan, who then introduced me to an entrepreneur, and so on. The network was built like that. I was 20 years old and I decided to start my own account partly thanks to him.
Why didn't you go to school?
I didn't go to school because I didn't feel like studying architecture for 5 years. Design schools were too expensive for me. I told myself that I would find another way. It's a bit atypical as a course, but the main thing is that it works.
See this post on Instagram
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What is the profession of interior decorator?
I think every professional has their own definition of the profession and their vision of what they want to convey through their work.
For my part, what speaks to me in decoration and what inspires me is to create a place that allows the customer to feel good. I want to give a feeling of security and well-being in the spaces I create.
In your opinion, what are the qualities required to practice the profession of interior decorator?
In my opinion, the number one quality: is to listen to your customers. You have to be able to identify the needs, the desires, all the little details... Their way of life on a daily basis. It's really important before thinking about decor, colors, furniture. Above all, you have to know how to listen.
In my opinion, the number one quality: is to listen to your customers
The second quality isthat you have to have a form of pragmatism. You have to know how to frame the projects of your clients. So it's important to create a bond and build a relationship of trust with each of them. In each project, compromises will have to be found. Often clients have wild dreams that are far removed from their constraints, for example regarding the size of the space or the budget. The role of the interior designer is to keep his head on his shoulders in order to provide consistent support to his clients.
The third quality necessary for an interior designer is creativity. You have to learn to get out of your comfort zone.
What is your usual working method?
I don't have a production process. I am not a fixed frame. It all depends on the customers, where they are.
Afterwards, I have discussions with my clients. I spend time chatting with them, then I produce a 3D model of their space. The digital tool will really allow them to project themselves into space and have a first experience.
Without imposing it on your clients, would you say that your work has a particular style?
I have to have my own style. You'll find essences of Scandinavian, industrial, little bohemian notes… It's often a question of mood too, of the season, all that. But the most important thing is to offer projects that resemble our customers, and that they find their own universe.
I actually like to say that I am a decorator for the poor.
What do clients look like when they hire an interior designer?
Customers are sometimes afraid of the price. I just like to say that I a decorator for the poor. What I mean by that is that I like to find tips to give a wow effect on a low budget.
I don't like flashy projects with large marble slabs and leather sofas. These are not projects in which I recognize myself and I would not see myself interacting badly in this kind of universe.
I'm more on family projects, looking for tips for a place that will live on a daily basis.
Often clients who hire a decorator think they're going to have to do a crazy project. In reality, you have to build a project with them in whichthey will feel good.
Decorative trends & inspirations
What are the decoration trends for 2021?
For the fall-winter season, I'm imagining something quite refined, with relatively curved lines, and light natural materials to soften it all up a bit.
Afterwards for the range of colors, it's like betting on a racehorse, you're never sure of the result. I would go with a palette of purple, parma. We are starting to see them everywhere, in ready-to-wear, cooking, etc. So I wouldn't be surprised if that happened in the decoration world.
Afterwards, I don't follow all the trends. I rely on atmospheres and the mood of my clients.
Do you observe a recurring decorative style in the requests of your customers?
It's quite paradoxical with my previous remarks: basically, customers above all want something functional and timeless. Because it is still rooted in people's minds that furniture and decor are expensive. You don't want to repaint your walls every 4 years. As a result, the vision of customers is rather a long-term vision.
Customers want nice colors, “but not too flashy”, nice furniture, “but not too extravagant”, etc. That's why we bounce a lot on the Scandinavian style. This is typically the functional and aesthetic style.
I think now there is a huge gap between discount and high end. It ultimately reflects what we see in our society. We live in an environment where there are very very rich and very very poor. And it becomes difficult to find yourself in the middle.
I see decoration and furniture brands that are very high-end, that are of very good quality, but whose products are inaccessible. And besides that, it is possible to go antique, to buy second-hand, to renovate, to stroll regularly in accessible stores.
Today decoration is no longer a luxury
If you had to give decorating tips to a reader?
- Take the time to identify what you want
- Buy around, browse, observe, compare and find what you are looking for. Above all, do not throw yourself at the first opportunity.
- And if you're a do-it-yourselfer! DIY.
I'm passionate about DIY as much as decoration. Making furniture costs nothing. It is within everyone's reach. I learned on the job and now I even know how to make a wardrobe.
To cite a recent example, Ikea released a collection with cabinets and burlap. The product line costs between €300 and €400. I made my own wardrobe inspired by these products and it cost me less than 100€. The product is not necessarily perfect, but it is also very rewarding to make things yourself.
In your opinion, how will the profession of interior designer evolve in the years to come?
I hope that the profession will evolve “well”. But what is increasingly obvious is that we find more and more decorators online. Ordering your interior online has grown enormously. Doing an online study costs a little less than bringing a professional to your home. Online renderings are becoming more and more frequent. Customers therefore have a projection right away. With new technologies, the renderings are hyper realistic. The public realizes that redecorating their interior is not that expensive anymore.
However, with new technologies physical contact is lost. It can be observed in other sectors and it is something that scares me. This is a trend that worries me.
Lockdown has completely turned the relational aspect of work upside down. There are a lot of things that you understand yet in non-verbal communication, a lot of information that you cannot perceive via the digital whole.
Purely utopian, what would your dream project be?
I have so many and one life wouldn't be enough for me to do them all!
One of the projects that stands out from the others would be to participate in the renovation of an old building, to make guest rooms. In this way I could share the taste for decoration by mixing it with the taste for meeting others. That's something I would like. It's not a crazy project, so maybe one day!
Can you share your sources of inspiration with us?
I use Instagram a lot, among other things. You can find almost everything on it. I can share with you 3 big accounts that I find really cool:
These pages are really comprehensive. They show you international trends. It’s nice to open your mind and see what is happening elsewhere.
How would you qualify these trends?
I am a very visual person. On Instagram, I'm going to scroll the thread, and then there's something that's going to tilt. It is a color or a piece of furniture that will catch my eye. From there I will try to understand the composition of the image and seek out what caught my attention. It's really my eye that wanders and that will retrieve information, regardless of the medium.
In everyday life, I walk around residential neighborhoods and look at houses. I discover layouts and draw some ideas from them.
Do you frequent blogs and websites devoted to design or interior decoration? And if so which ones?
The magazine Home Decor, I subscribed to it for a while.
Now I'm going to snoop around in art books, in the library, also in decoration books.
There are also social networks too, which are a real gold mine.
Do you have one or more interior designers, decorators, designers, or creators, who inspire you on a daily basis?
There is one, because that way of working really resembles the way of working that I aspire to, it's Sophie Ferjani. I think she has great ideas, she is in an approach that I please and speaks to me a lot.
Besides, if I can meet her one day that would be great! Sophie if you pass by ;)
What do you think are the 3 main principles of decoration?
A simple pleasure?
Share a good beer on the terrace with friends. It's kind of my dolce vita. I think we are much in the same case. Simple but terribly effective!
Your latest favorite piece of music?
This morning I was listening to Avicii - Feeling Good (the original version being by Nina Simone).
Where can we follow you?