Having both studied interior design in New York City, I felt an immediate connection with designer Manuella Moreira. Standing out in the highly competitive city of New York isn’t easy, but Manuella has managed to do so with her penchant for modern but livable interiors.
An interior designer for powerhouse Ethan Allen, clients rave about Manuella’s professionalism, creative instinct and ability to address their design needs. In her 4 years at Ethan Allen, Manuella has continued to impress with spaces that feel fresh, timely and unique. Quite at ease in front of the camera, Manuella is often tapped by her company to represent the Ethan Allen brand on various television news segments, in magazines and at company events. In fact, Manuella was recently featured as a panelist on an Ethan Allen sponsored Designerlebrity event hosted in Flatiron, NY.
Bit by the design bug early in high school, Manuella Moreira’s passion for design shows in her work and in her conversation. As we talked on the phone, I became incredibly impressed with her humility. She feels fortunate to be doing what she truly loves to do and we can tell she is just getting started.
Karina Jones: What was the moment you knew you wanted to become an interior designer?
Manuella Moreira: I always knew I wanted to do something creative. I was born and raised in a small town in Brazil, surrounded by some of the most beautiful architecture and rich culture. I remember walking through the cobblestone streets when I was younger and always being fascinated by the level of detail in the older homes. I also clearly remember the days that I would watch my grandmother embroider the most beautiful blankets. I loved admiring the different textures of the fabrics and the rich colors. Fast forward to many years later… In high school, I was offered the option to take Architecture I and II, as electives, during my Junior and Senior years. I fell in love with the technicalities of CAD, the process of designing and the endless possibilities. After graduating, I enrolled at New York School of Interior Design. I then started to work for a design firm in CT and knew right away that it was the right fit for me.
Karina Jones: What is one thing you wish you would have known before entering the interior design industry?
Manuella Moreira: That I would also need a psychology degree! 🙂
Karina Jones: You previously worked at an interior design firm, but now you work for home furnishings titan Ethan Allen. How has your current position with such an elite brand like Ethan Allen differed from working at a firm?
Manuella Moreira: I complete my projects at a much faster pace now. Many times, I meet the client for the first time on a weekend, go on a homecall during the week to take measurements of the space and photos, and present a full design to them by the end of the week.
Karina Jones: If you could spend 1 hour with any designer or architect in the world, who would it be and why?
Manuella Moreira: Kelly Wearstler – for sure! I love her style and her ability to mix different elements and colors.
Karina Jones: How do you begin the creative process with a new client?
Manuella Moreira: I always start by asking the client a lot of questions about their lifestyle, likes/dislikes, who will be using/living in the spaces, etc. Making a space functional is one of my main priorities so I take the time to get to know my clients first, then I make specific recommendations that would suit their needs.
Karina Jones: What is your personal design sensibility?
Manuella Moreira: I like more of a modern, clean and elegant look – but also livable!
Karina Jones: What magazines, books or websites do you look to for inspiration?
Manuella Moreira: I’m a big collector of coffee table books – anything from fashion, interiors and architecture. I’m always adding on to my library and never come back from a trip without one (or even a few). My favorite place to find the best books is Librairie du Passage at Passage Jouffroy in Paris, they have limited editions of some popular titles as well as rare findings. I always flip through them for inspiration. As for magazines, I also LOVE reading Casa Vogue Brazil, Architectural Digest, Objekt International and many others.
Karina Jones: What are your favorite spaces to work on and why?
Manuella Moreira: My favorite spaces are living rooms and family rooms. These are spaces that are used the most whether as a family or entertaining. Also, these spaces can be the most challenging sometimes since the clients usually request for the space to be multifunctional and so it forces me to really think creatively and come up with solutions on how to best incorporate everything on their wishlist.
Karina Jones: New York City is such a fast-paced and trendy city. How has working in New York City in particular impacted your design eye?
Manuella Moreira: I love everything about NYC! The architecture, style and the endless possibilities it has to offer. I love walking around the city, observing my surroundings and getting inspired. NYC is very diverse and it has taught me think fast and to learn how to adapt quickly. I may be working on many projects with different styles, at one time.
Karina Jones: The interiors you create for your clients at Ethan Allen are varied and very beautiful. Can you offer us some advice on how to create such incredible interiors exclusively using Ethan Allen furnishings and accessories?
Manuella Moreira: Ethan Allen offers everything from floor to ceiling; area rugs, upholstery, casegoods, lighting, accessories, wall art, wallpaper and customs window treatments. Also, there are many custom options to a lot of the pieces, therefore, it allows me to create many different looks.
Karina Jones: You are one of the key spokespeople for Ethan Allen; in fact, you often do news segments for them and you were a panelist on a recent Barbara Viteri Designerlebrity event hosted by them. How did that role come about?
Manuella Moreira: I absolutely love what I do and always try my best to make sure it translates into my work. Instagram has been a platform that I love using to share some of the projects that I’m working on as well as connecting with other designers. I first heard of Barbara and Designerlebrity while listening to an interview on A Well Design Business Podcast. We connected through Instagram and she discussed a feature for The Potentials.
Later on, Barbara and LuAnn came up with the idea for an event where designers could discuss different topics that represent Designerlebrity and the recorded the discussion would be shared through A Well Designed Business Podcast.
We (Ethan Allen) loved the idea and wanted to be a part of it!
Karina Jones: Speaking of the Designerlebrity event, what were some of your key takeaways from that event?
Manuella Moreira: First of all, it was such a big honor to be sitting amongst two very talented designers and it felt very surreal! I loved listening to how they started in the business as well as what some of their struggles were and how they overcame them. Often we just hear success stories, not the challenges they had to overcome to get there. Barbara has given us this incredible platform allowing us to tell our stories and big thanks to LuAnn Nigara for allowing us to share it through A Well Designed Business Podcast.
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