Interview with Erinn Valencich
How did you become interested in Interior Design and who were your mentors in the early days?
I have always loved homes and design. I grew up in a very creative family. My father studied architecture directly under Frank Lloyd Wright, and my mother is the daughter of a contractor and fine-cabinet maker and the ultimate do-it-yourselfer. I grew up gardening, and painting and re-doing every home we’ve ever lived in with her. When I was 18 I started working for a lifestyle expert, and ran her company for six years.
After decorating my first apartment, my friends kept pushing me to be a go out on my own as a designer. I am a jump-first kind of person. I didn’t go to design school, I just started playing with my own apartment, which led to my first job, which led to the next. I’m always learning and playing with color and experimenting with ideas and looks.
You have built Erinn V Design Group into an emerging lifestyle brand. Is there a certain success story that led to the rise of EVDG as a well-established name in the market?
I founded my company about seven years ago now. I have worked very hard to get my name out there, and understand the value of the press, and have a pretty saavy marketing sensibility from my years working on the PR and Marketing at my prior company. I think it’s very important to believe in yourself, most of all, and then to be very clear about your goals. One of my best friends recently joked that I had “steroid confidence” which makes me laugh, but I think ultimately, any entrepreneur must posses. In terms of the mechanics of it, getting a great website and brand image together was important when I started, especially as my work is visual. As an artist of any sort, you can’t expect to be hired if no one knows about you. Having the right tools with which to market your self are invaluable.
It seems you have experience in several genres, ranging from advertising campaigns to entertaining and furniture design, how do you incorporate your many talents and tastes into your designs?
I think that all that I do is a combined effort. Designing someone’s home is more than just figuring out a paint color or choosing a sofa. It’s about defining how they live, and how they want to live. Entertaining is a valuable part of life and sharing with others. Once clients have a beautiful home, they want to open its doors and invite friends and family inside, and that is truly the mark of a job well done. I also thrive on variety, and love to have my hands in many different endeavors. I am starting a bridal website, www.BrideBop.com, to help modern brides creates their perfect day, as well as opening my first furniture store on Robertson Blvd this fall for my 40-piece furniture collection, entitled Erinn V Maison. I have designed and built about 80% of what I put into my clients homes over the years, so offering those designs to the public is the next natural step.
Now that you’ve reached a level of success and fame, the consumer is always expecting something new and fresh, how do you answer to that need? How do you find what’s new and fresh?
The good news about what I do, is that it’s really just me. I love to shop, I love to look at pretty homes and travel around the world and get inspired by what is new, what is old, and in turn, what is “next.” I get bored easily, so I’m always liking new things, and funny enough, I’ve picked quite a few trends before they have come around, just based on particular items I’ve seen that I think are great, and a year later, they are everywhere.
Does working with celebrity clients, such as Jaime Pressly and Jennifer Love Hewitt demand a different work process?
Yes, working with celebrity clients is a different ballgame. They have different needs, and timelines. But at the end of the day, a home is a home. I have been lucky to have clients that, for the most part, make decisions quickly and trust in my taste.
How do you perceive design today: as catalyst for lifestyle change or as reaction to it, or both?
Design is about taking that square box that we live in and turning it into a home, and by that meaning a true joy to those that live in it. Design is meant to enrich the lives of those who invite it in. The best part about being a designer to me, is not just getting the chance to be creative on a daily basis…or to see my designs come to life. The true reward is helping a client bring about their own personal style so that they feel confident to open up their home and enjoy their friends and family in beautiful surroundings. Getting that phone call after their first party is always so uplifting and gratifying!
How would you describe your design style?
Bold and colorful. Classic with modern updates.
What do you do, or where do you go, for inspiration?
I look through my binders of inspirational images…tear sheets from magazines, pieces I have printed from online or copied from my design books. It’s a vast library of all types of images I love. And no matter what the project, I always manage to find something different each time I look through my binders.
Was there any lesson you learned early on in your career that has stuck with you?
Yes, triple check everything. Assume everyone is always going to do it wrong, no matter who they are unless they have a proven track record with you. I know that sounds cynical, but it’s amazingly costly when something gets made wrong or duplicated differently. Being overly specific on EVERYTHING is crucial to the success of a project. The Devil is in the details… or God is in the details, I’ve heard it both ways and both make sense!
In your opinion, what makes a great room?
A great room has personality. A direct vision and a sense of whimsy. A great room is not too serious, but is often times a mix of styles and items that appear to have been found over time. A great room often times has an interesting mix of pattern and texture. A great room is inspiring, unique and fully executed, meaning everything has been thought of from lighting to drapery to rugs to accessories.
Do you prefer to have painted walls or use wallpaper, and why? Does it depend on the project?
I love wallpaper- I’m obsessed some may say! I have it in 8 rooms in my home! I think it’s fun and can play such a great roll in a space to add color and personality. However it totally depends on the look. Sometimes it’s not appropriate for a look. But I always manage to work some into every project I design, even if it’s an accent wall in an entry, or a powder room. Clients that say “I hate wallpaper” haven’t seen the cool designs that are out there today! And they always end up with at least one room with paper!
What are your future/upcoming projects?
I am building a 10,000 square foot modern estate in the Sunset Strip area of Los Angeles with award winning architect, Hagy Belzberg. This is a truly one of a kind modern estate in one of the most desirable areas of Los Angeles.
I have just started my first hotel job in Las Vegas, which is very exciting. I’m designing restaurants, bars, a nightclub and over 1,000 guest rooms.