Today’s Designer Spotlight gives us a peek into the mind of Santa Fe, New Mexico-based designer Lisa Samuel and the creative world of the firm – Samuel Design Group – that she started 17 years ago.
With a lifelong love of architecture and the process of construction, it was only natural for her to enter the world of interior design. We sat down with Lisa to get some insight on where she finds inspiration, how she works with clients, and where STARK comes into the picture.
“I love the process of starting with an idea in my head, then seeing it come to life.”
Visions from the natural world
Nature in general is one of Lisa’s biggest inspirations, which is one of the reasons she loves doing design work in Santa Fe. “Nature here is just so beautiful,” Lisa stated. But she finds inspiration beyond their obviously pleasing aesthetics; Lisa also sees the beauty where others might not. “In this dining room, I used a lot of natural elements that to some people would go right in the compost bin, like dead foliage or tree branches. But all of those elements look incredibly elegant in that dining room. People loved it,” Lisa elaborated.
Getting outside the box
The actual space being worked with is the first aspect that informs design choices. But the second – perhaps more challenging – is getting inside the head of clients. For Lisa, it’s important to get clients slightly out of their comfort zone. Often, clients want something unique, but they can’t quite think of it themselves – and that’s where Lisa comes in. The success of this approach is captured by one of her favorite client comments: “Every day when I wake up, I look around and I say to myself, ‘This is me, only better.’”
“Feelosophy” and her signature aesthetic
The ability to feel good in one’s space – any space, whether it’s a home or work environment – is of the utmost importance to Lisa’s conception of interior design. To describe it, Lisa coined a word: feelosophy.
“If something feels off, you’re not going to be at your peak. So the philosophy behind my work is that it has to feel good; I call that feelosophy.”
When it comes to her own personal aesthetic, nature is returned to as a constant source. Lisa’s work is always accessible and classy, bringing a sense of sophistication and frequently utilizing clean lines. But to sum up the look of her rooms in three words is simple: chic, sexy, and approachable.
Passions and challenges
Lisa loves designing living rooms and family rooms; bedrooms are another story. “It’s the most intimate space in anyone’s house,” Lisa explained. “Especially if it’s not a guest bedroom. Guest bedrooms are a bit easier and a little more fun.” But when the room is someone’s sanctuary, as the bedroom virtually always is, it becomes more challenging because there is emotional involvement at stake. The design always has to be just right, but that experience of the process is especially felt in the bedroom.
Her fantasy room design
Working in the Southwest, Lisa is able to incorporate a great deal of regional flavor and culture into her work. It’s no surprise, then, that if faced with no budget and the chance to create her fantasy design, it would be based on a treehouse – specifically a banyan tree. “Everything inside would be really clean and decorated in shades of white, feathers, and beautiful African art,” Lisa elaborated.
Variety is key
Lisa first became aware of STARK many years ago, interning for an interior designer in Santa Fe before jumping into the field with her own firm.
“I was always impressed with the quality and variety of designs STARK offers. Across the board, it’s just amazing. I’ve been using STARK in my projects ever since.”
Since she opened Samuel Design Group 17 years ago, Sandra Webb has been Lisa’s account rep – just the kind of lengthy, lifelong relationship that STARK is proud to have developed with numerous interior designers throughout the decades.
When you’ve had the same account rep for that amount of time, the connection inevitably becomes deep; Sandra often sends Lisa pictures of new items for her consideration, simply based on how well she’s gotten to know her style at this point. “She is just wonderful that way,” Lisa added.
Carpet: Natura Sisal in Color Walnut
Enjoy discovering what goes on behind the scenes at even more design firms and studios that love to work with STARK? Explore even more creative and inspiring work by the interior designers featured in our Design Showcase, including Heather Garrett, Barry Goralnick, and Charles Pavarini III.