Quark goes to meet decoration professionals. For this first interview, we met Coline Thomas, interior designer. She talks to us about recent trends and her daily job.
Hello, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Coline, I am 23 years old and I have 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 bit in the Paris region.
Career path and first projects
What is your background ?
I'm 23 years old and I've 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 business, firstly 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 start my own business. I was starting from zero. I was put in touch with a craftsman, who then introduced me to a contractor, and so on. The network was built like this. I was 20 years old and I decided to start my own business 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 unaffordable for me. I told myself I would find another way. It's a bit of an unusual route, but the main thing is that it works.
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What is the job of interior designer?
I think that each professional has their 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 drives me is creating 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 qualities are required to work as an interior designer?
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 living on a daily basis... This is really important before thinking about decor, colors, furniture. Above all, you have to know how to listen.
In my opinion, the number one quality: listening to your customers
The second quality is that you have to have a form of pragmatism . You have to know how to frame your clients' projects. So it's important to create a bond and build a relationship of trust with each of them. In each project we will have to find compromises. Often clients have dreams that are a little crazy and far removed from their constraints, for example regarding the size of space or the budget. The role of the interior designer is to keep his head on his shoulders in order to consistently support his clients.
The third necessary quality 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 and where they are.
Afterwards I have exchange processes 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 definitely have my own style. You will find essences of Scandinavia, industrial, little bohemian notes... It's often a question of mood too, of season, all that. But the most important thing is to propose projects that resemble our clients, and that they find their own world .
I like to say that I am a decorator for the poor .
What do clients who call an interior designer look like?
Customers are sometimes afraid of the price. I like to say that I am a decorator for the poor . What I mean by that is that I like finding tips to give a wow effect on a low budget.
I don't like projects that are too flashy with large slabs of marble and leather sofas. These are not projects in which I recognize myself and I would find it difficult to see myself interacting in this type of universe.
I'm more into family projects, looking for tips for a place that will live on a daily basis.
Often clients who call on a decorator think that they will be forced to do a crazy project. In reality, we have to build a project with them in which they will feel good.
Decorating trends & inspirations
What are the decorating trends for 2021?
For the fall winter season I imagine something quite refined, with relatively curved lines, and light natural materials to soften it all up a little.
Afterwards, for the color range, 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 almost everywhere, in ready-to-wear, cooking, etc. So I wouldn't be surprised if this 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 your customers' requests?
It's quite paradoxical with my previous comments: deep down, customers want above all something functional and timeless . Because it’s still anchored 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 customers' vision is rather a long-term vision .
Customers want beautiful colors, “but not too flashy”, beautiful furniture, “but not too extravagant”, etc. This is why we rely a lot on Scandinavian style. This is typically the functional and aesthetic style .
I think that now there is a huge gap growing 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 people and very, very poor people. And it becomes difficult to find yourself in the middle.
I see decoration and furniture brands that are very high-end, which are of very good quality, but whose products are inaccessible . And besides that, it is possible to go hunting, buy second-hand, renovate , regularly stroll through accessible stores.
Today decor is no longer a luxury
What if you had to give decorating tips to a reader?
- Take the time to identify what you want
- Search, rummage, observe, compare and find what you are looking for. Don't jump at the first opportunity.
- And if you are a DIYer, do it yourself! DIY.
I am passionate about DIY as much as I am about decoration. Making furniture costs nothing . It's 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 range of products costs between €300 and €400. I made my own wardrobe inspired by these products and it cost me less than €100. The product isn't necessarily perfect, but it's also super rewarding to make things yourself.
In your opinion, how will the profession of interior decorator 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 having a professional come to your home. Online renderings are becoming more and more common. Customers therefore have a projection straight away. With new technologies, renderings are extremely realistic. The public realizes that redecorating its interior is no longer that expensive.
On the other hand, with new technologies physical contact is lost. We can observe it in other sectors and it’s something that scares me . This is a trend that worries me.
Confinement has completely disrupted the relational aspect of work. There are lots of things that you understand in non-verbal communication, a lot of information that you cannot perceive via everything digital.
In a purely utopian way, what would be your dream project?
I have plenty of them and one lifetime wouldn't be enough for me to achieve them all!
One of the projects that stands out from the others would be to participate in the renovation of an old building, to create guest rooms. In this way I could share the taste for decoration while 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 truly complete. They present international trends to you. It's nice to open your mind and see what's happening elsewhere.
How would you characterize these trends?
I am a very visual person. On Instagram, I'm going to unroll the feed, and then there's something that's going to tilt . It’s a color or even a piece of furniture that will catch my eye. From there I will try to understand the composition of the image and look for what may have caught my attention . It's really my eye that wanders and retrieves information, regardless of the medium.
In everyday life, I walk through residential neighborhoods and look at houses. I discover arrangements and get some ideas from them.
Do you frequent blogs and websites devoted to design or interior decoration? And if so which ones?
I subscribed to Decoration Maison magazine for a while.
Now I'm going to rummage through art books, at 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 architects, decorators, designers, or creators who inspire you on a daily basis?
There is one, because this way of working really resembles the way of working to which I aspire, it is Sophie Ferjani . I think she has superb ideas, she has an approach that I like and speaks to me a lot .
Besides, if I can meet her one day that would be great! Sophie if you pass by ;)
What, in your opinion, are the 3 main principles of decoration?
A simple pleasure?
Share a good beer on the terrace with friends. It's a bit like my dolce vita. I think many of us are in the same situation. 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?