IN CONVERSATION WITH ELIZABETH KENNEDY
Elizabeth Kennedy, Creative Director, LBV interviews Nina Seirafi about her life in interior design.
EK: How did you begin your career?
NS: My father was a developer so I was exposed to construction and architecture from an early age.
EK: What was your first design job?
NS: The Office of the Dean of The New School, in my second year at Parsons.
EK: When you began your career, did you begin with interiors or furniture design? Is one more challenging than the other?
NS: I was trained in interior design, and furniture was just always a side interest that complemented my interiors. The scale of a complete interiors work is obviously a lot larger than a piece of furniture and naturally more challenging. However, designing a perfect piece of furniture can take way more than one can imagine.
EK: Do you work more with commercial spaces or residential? Is there one you prefer more and if so, why?
NS: I have worked on both and love both, however I have had more opportunities in residential design. My favorite project to date is a yacht I worked on, as it has elements of both and yet it was really a new territory and presented a certain level of excitement and education that seemed unparalleled to anything I have ever done.
EK: How does functionality play a role in your design process?
NS: I think design without function is at worst meaningless and at best art. If I am designing a piece of furniture, I am designing a piece of furniture, which means it has to be functional.
Nina Seirafi for Ralph Pucci
EK: Where do you find your inspiration? Is the process different whether you are designing a piece of furniture or a room?
NS: Art, cinema , fashion, music and nature are all sources of inspiration for me. Art has been a particularly strong source of inspiration for me. Artist such as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra have inspired my work since the beginning of my career. Cinema is another strong source of inspiration. Movies and interiors are very similar in the sense that they both tell a story, there is a start and there is an end and all connect seamlessly. In movies we deal with perspectives and so do we with interiors. Fashion has been a strong source, as fashion evolves so fast and it's so easy to see the change of time in fashion and fantasize with all the visuals it offers.
EK: How do you begin designing a room – does it begin with a color palette? The wall color? A central piece of furniture?
NS: I don't like to start with a physical mood board as I don't want what was done in the past to influence my own creativity. I always like to push the envelope and create a space that has not been created before. Once I have a sense of the mood I am creating, I will start with planning. Once i have a solid plan, i gather materials and create 3D renderings. 3d rendering really help me see what I have imagined to that point and allows me to hone my design.
EK: How does a client influence your process – talk about Joss’ home?
NS: It all depends on the client. Working with Joss was very unique as she thinks out of the box and craves new and innovative ideas which makes her the perfect collaborator. She is also very trusting and allowed me to do my part and create a common vision that worked for the space and her lifestyle.
EK: Have you ever had to alter your personal aesthetic to work on a project? Or do you only take on projects that lend themselves to your preferred style or aesthetic
NS: I would like to think that at this point in my career people come to me for my style. No two projects are exactly alike and should not be, but I would like to think no matter what the project or who the client is there should always be a consistent hand that represents me as a designer.
EK: Who is your dream collaboration, dead or alive?
NS: Le Corbusier, Tadao Ando
Le Corbusier - Tadao Ando
EK: What has been your experience being a woman in your industry? Do you find any challenges – such as gender pay-gaps, working with clients, competition with your male counterparts?
NS: I have never really felt any disadvantages, and there should be none. I believe you teach people how to value your abilities and vision. I feel great as a female designer, and I would not want it any other way.
EK: What is the lifespan of a room?
NS: The plan and general design of a solid designer should be timeless. Typically it is said that it is 6-8 years for paint and soft furnishings, such as rugs and upholstery. However, we have been successful at stretching this number to at least 10-15 years for most things except for paint.
EK: How do you feel Covid-19 will impact the way people approach the design of their homes? Do you feel people will be more excited to entertain at home, for instance?
NS: We are now spending more time at home, and most of our outside experiences have been brought inside. Our homes are where we entertain, workout, work, eat and spend time with family. So it is natural for people to actually see the value of well thought out interiors a lot more than ever before.
EK: How has this epidemic changed the way you work and communicate with clients? Has technology played a role and do you see technology being implemented more in the future?
NS: The only way to communicate now is through technology, which is great. Platforms such as Goto Meeting and Zoom are used daily by myself and other designer friends to communicate with clients and sometimes fabricators. However, this change has not been very easy for me. I am a visual person, and so much of our work depends on materials and visual accuracy that I feel slightly limited as I can’t have everything at home with me and truly miss my material library.
EK: What are your plans for your future – you mentioned expanding into new product categories, such as cutlery.
NS: I would love to expand on product which means more furniture, lighting, paint colors….etc. I have recently designed a set of cutlery and would like to expand that into a whole collection with more options. I would also like to work on more interesting projects such as hotels, yachts.