Interior Designer Rinat Lavi caught my eye on Instagram as one of her designs just blew up so I asked her to do an interview so we could dive deeper. To me, her style is classic and elegant but you be the judge.
What manufacturer would you love to team up with and why?
I would happily team up with Baker Furniture. Most of their pieces are classical in design quality and I believe that some will become the future “antiques”. Additionally, they offer a great variety that can easily mix with pieces from different sources to create an individual yet sophisticated look. And I love that although their products are very well made, for the most part, the price point can still be attainable by the middle market.
What I enjoy most about my work as a designer, is putting together the skeleton of a room, ensuring that proportions and styles of the furnishings are well balanced. Therefore creating a line of furniture, for a company such as Baker, would allow my work to extend to a wider audience.
Who is the designer that you admire and how have they influenced your design work?
There are many designers and architects that have influenced my design aesthetics over the years. Prominently, Stephen Sills. His eclectic mix is what I strive for in my own designs. He uses many classical elements in both the architectural details as well as the furnishings, mixed with modern art or modern textiles and the result is a timeless quality that is sophisticated and understated. His work has been consistent for many years because, in my opinion, it is a formula that endures and has very much been my design philosophy. When I read his first book “Dwellings” (which was published in 2003) I suddenly understood the way that designers use hidden connections between the elements of a room – in other words using the same language when specifying the textiles, the case goods, and all the rest of the decor – it gave me an elevated sense of how to create well designed rooms.
What is a design tip you live by?
I always encourage my clients to splurge on at least one thing in each room. A vintage piece or original art, with a higher quality (and often price point) than the rest of the furnishings. I believe that it helps take the end result to another level. And so in my own house you would find one or two special pieces in every room. In my Living Room I splurged on a mid-century coffee table and for a while I had to live with only the sofa and the table because I couldn’t afford to buy anything else. In my bedroom, I didn’t skimp on the curtains because well made, couture-like curtains, give a real sense of serenity, which is prime for a bedroom. And in my kitchen, I had to have custom made cabinets because it allows for a maximized use of space and for creating a unique look, plus the interaction with well made cabinets is a luxurious feeling that pays back every single day.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
(Other than my boys), it is my everlasting curiosity and my endless thirst for discovering new things and meeting new people. Each day is another fragment of the journey that is life and time is precious so I try to learn new things every single day. As a visual person who is so passionate about art and design, there are stimulations abound at every step. From nature to architecture to fashion, there are always things to explore and observe. There are new trends to read about in the media (Instagram became a favorite source for keeping up with the design world). And I love to frequent museums to get inspiration from masters artists and designers.
What is your favorite vacation spot and can you recommend a place to visit or stay there?
Paris. Of course. I love the exploration of small shops, cafes, museums and galleries. And especially always being surrounded by the timeless and classical architecture. Furthermore, I love the French culture which revolves around the promotion of beauty and taste, therefore there are connections to be made to different eras through the study of design and decorations.
On a recent trip to Paris, I visited the Grand Hotel du Palais Royal. The public areas, as well as the rooms, are appointed with understated chic modern furnishings and original modern art. And the location, in the Palais Royal, is an inspiration in itself. It is no surprise that it is one of the favored hotels for visitors during fashion week. However, if traveling on a more modest budget, I would recommend the Hotel Therese which is in the same vicinity of Palais Royal, which in my opinion is the optimal location. It is a lovely boutique hotel which mixes traditional elements with mid-century pieces. The rooms are typically tiny but with exceptionally high ceiling, which makes for a pleasant feel.
I wouldn’t skip on trying one of the restaurants designed by Joseph Dirand (Monsieur Blue in Palais Tokyo is my favorite). It is where the decor is an inspirations and the food enhances it to a wonderful experience.
Paris has many places to visit but one museum which I adore and is less known is Musee Nissim de Camondo. I first visited it almost twenty years ago and have been inspired by the classical details ever since. The house was built in 1911 and largely inspired by the Petit Trianon in Versailles with gorgeous backdrops to a collection of 18th century furnishings.
What happens in your initial meeting with a client?
At the initial meeting, after going through images of my work, where I like to give insight to the way that the rooms evolved, I try to really listen to what the clients will say. Particularly the way they would describe their lifestyle and what their goals are for the project. As every project is unique and incorporates many factors from taste to budget (often involving two personalities with different sets of priorities) it is important to be a good listener. And if the potential client is new to the process and has never worked with a designer, I would describe the design process in great detail while stressing that a designer’s role isn’t only to create the look of the room but also to mitigate between the many trades and artisans that are involved in the creation of their home.
How do you communicate your vision to the client?
A scaled floor plan is key. One of the fundamentals I learned in design school is that if the furniture layout flows well then the room will be successful and that a good plan is devised around the function of the space. Once a good floor plan is established, I like to present two or three options for each item that is on the plan and for that I use tear sheets or images from the suppliers. If something has to be made custom I will do scaled drawings but will also show inspiration images for the details and the overall look. Presenting an edited selection allows my client to be a real participant in the design process to create the final look, while having the assurance that the every choice is a correct choice. As for the material scheme – I like to show large memos of fabrics and carpeting, and large samples for finishes such as stone, wood, glass etc. as it minimizes surprises (clients often cannot visualize). Whenever possible it is critical to look at all the samples in the actual space and in different lights.
Describe what you like most about your home.
Without a doubt – my collection of books. Over the past fifteen years I have acquired dozens of art and design books. And I love to keep stacks of them everywhere. They are next to my bed (under my night table), in the dining room (on a server), in the living room – on an étagère but also on the coffee table, and of course in my study. I draw constant inspiration from them (to me looking through them is the equivalent of meditation).
How would you describe your sense of style?
My sense of style developed over the years. I draw much inspiration from the classical, period European interiors. But I mostly love an eclectic mix of classical architectural details with modernist furniture, even edgy pieces and/or modern art. Where it is needed, I happily add a bit of glam by using a mix of metals or introducing crystal and glossy finishes. Moreover, when juxtaposing the polished surfaces with some organic elements, I believe, that the result is a timeless and sophisticated decor with a universal appeal.
Do you have a favorite colour scheme?
I don’t really have a favorite color scheme. That is because to me, a color scheme should be born out of the requirements of the project. For one, it is the space (urban or country, surroundings and exposures to natural light) but also the mood that my client requested. I often like to create two color schemes for a presentation that are equally successful. More often than not, my client will have a hard time choosing. And as I am very confident with color (it is something that I had developed over the years of experience), it allows me to manipulate any scheme successfully and in a ways that might be unexpected.
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