I always enjoy meeting designers who are artists.
I’m interested in designers who I consider artists. I subscribe to the notion that an artist is someone who creates from a place of imagination. And as is the case for many artists, it matters at least as much who they are as the work they’ve done. What caught my attention about Stefania is the unapologetically badassness about her, perfectly captured in the portrait below. I met with Stefania for drinks and pizza at Roberta’s in Bushwick. We only had to wait about 30 minutes for two seats – an amazingly short wait for the famous pizzeria.
Stefania Skrabak is the principal at Art Home Garden, a full service design firm based in New York City and the Catskills, NY.
Yian: What does your work mean to you?
Stefania: It’s my everything. It’s what I do to make me happy. It’s how I live at home. There’s no differentiation between my life and my work. I let my work in. I let my clients in.
Y: What does your work mean to your clients?
S: My clients often tell me I’m able to help them manifest their life goals through the design of their home. They tell me it’s like magic.
Y: What makes you good at what you do?
S: People tell me they feel comfortable with me. I really spend time getting to know my clients. I’m always trying to tap into the psychology of what that home means to that person. Recently, I made one go out with me for martinis. Also, I’m really big on being at home, so I’m constantly re-examining what works well in a residence.
Y: What sets you apart as a designer?
S: The way I incorporate exteriors with interiors. Also my custom metal work. I love mixing metals with high end finishes, like raw steel with polished brash. My parents were actually metal smiths. I will always use metals. Many of my projects have custom metal build-in pieces, like the bar in the Charles project.
Y: What design projects are you working on these days
S: High end residential, interiors, exteriors and landscapes. I love big jobs.
Y: How would you describe your style?
S: To be honest, all my designs are completely different. But I can say it’s all about comfort and living well. I love when there’s no boundaries between the inside and outside. I love giant windows and doors. Also, I like to bring in a little bit of edge to each project. My clients should be ready to take some risks.
Y: Have you ever had a nightmare client?
S: I really work hard to build trust with my clients. Nightmares happen when they don’t trust me and try to take the design into their own hands.
Y: What are your clients usually looking for?
S: Accessibility, a cohesive design aesthetic, an ability to read their needs, and an ability to define and work within a budget.
Y: What type of project wouldn’t we find in your portfolio.
S: I usually don’t get hired to do traditional. That said, I just got hired to do a traditional project.
Y: Is there anything that particularly annoys you in the world of design?
S: Overly decorated spaces. Overly pretentious. I want you to come home and put your feet up on the sofa. I use a lot of high performance materials.
Y: How would you describe yourself?
S: What can I tell you… I’m not the type to walk around the set in high heals. On a job site, you’ll find me in jeans with coffee in one hand and a paint brush in the other.
Y: How did you get started in design?
S: I started with staging, then event design, then interiors.
Y: Whats’s something future clients should know about you?
S: They should know that in some ways I’m going to challenge them more than other designers. The design of their space should be very personal to them, and I will ask them to dig deep.
Y: How do you see a home?
S: A home is not just one style. It’s a narrative. A well designed environment evolves with its host. I design not only around someone’s current narrative, but their desired future as well. I ask them what their looking to attract in their life, and I design around that.
Y: What’s something people may be surprised to know about you?
S: My mom is my right hand. She’s very eastern European – a very strong woman. She has an exceptional aesthetic. She just gets it. Her ability brings my work to the next level.