Hello and welcome to our Design School series! If you are new to the blog or the series, this is where we feature a leading interior design firm and ask them to answer 20 quick questions to share insights gleaned from years in the business. We’ve interviewed a mother-daughter team in the past, but today is our first husband-and-wife design duo. I’m excited to welcome French & French Interiors to the blog!
Heather and Matt French are two of the most creative, kind and down-to-earth people I’ve met in the design industry. We all met at High Point Market in 2018. They are so fortunate to be living and working in the beautiful, mystical and natural landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They run a full service interior design firm, have a boutique showroom/shop and have started their own lighting line.
I love popping onto their Instagram feed and seeing all the color and pattern used in Santa Fe, so different than the grays and neutrals of the Midwest! Their natural surroundings are so inspiring as well; I like to take “virtual” walks with Heather as she films their acres of a backyard.
Here’s our interview with French & French Interiors:
Heather – The most difficult aspect of my job:
Well, I think it’s the pace at which we, as a team, have to produce. I find that really challenging, but over the years have figured a way to delegate to our employees to make it all work. I still find this challenging though!
Matt – What I love about my job:
I love Heather, our clients, our team, our vendors and their products, creating new fixtures and working with other makers and artisans in the community.
Heather – Every room needs:
A sense of cozy. Homes are a place to feel great in your environment and I try to make every space I design feel like you could stay for awhile!
Heather – What I love about my job:
I love the transformation it has for a family. We can take a chaotic family space and give them a gathering space so they can spend quality time together. To me, that’s the ultimate goal!
Heather – The biggest misconception about what I do:
Is that designers just choose furniture, which is so silly to me. Great designers provide a experience in the spaces they design. We look at function first and foremost. Try to understand how people want to use the space, and then execute a space the reflects all of those guidelines in a properly scaled, beautiful space.
Matt – My favorite up and coming brand:
I think it would probably be Atelier Areti. There are so many great things going on in the design world right now though that’s a tough one. I like a lot of new designs, but I feel like there is a life time of discovery in the past too.
Heather – Good design is:
Balanced. It’s considered, meaning that it’s appropriate to the function of the space. It’s innovative, and not trendy. It’s a stretch, and allows you to think… hmm… I love this space… not sure why, but it makes me feel good.
Heather – The one design that makes me cringe right now:
Well, I feel like there is a lack of innovation in a lot of design that I see. I’m not sure one particular design makes me cringe, but I don’t appreciate as much designs that are not innovative. People are being fed images that Search Engines feel the person wants to see, so people start to think that a particular aesthetic is what they like, but if they stretched outside the box a bit, there’s a whole world of inspiring designers that are doing amazing spaces!
Matt – The paint color I’ve used more then any other color:
Simply White, Benjamin Moore. We love color and pattern on walls, but when I need a clean slate, this is consistently my go to.
Heather – My favorite person to follow on instagram… ugh, so many…twisting my arm…I’d say Brooke Giannatti of @velvetandlinen, I want to live in her garden. Totally inspiring to me!
Heather – I always encourage clients to get rid of:
Pieces that they have out grown, aren’t good quality, as well as clutter. Purge, it feels SOOOOO GOOD!
Heather – The website most visited on my computer:
Design*Sponge, hands down. Grace has been a huge influence in my career as a business women, and I’ll always love D*S for that. So excited for her to move on to her next chapter! She’s brilliant and I’ll be following closely!
Matt – In my childhood bedroom you’d find:
My childhood bedroom walls were completely covered in polaroids, flyers from punk shows, and weird stuff I liked, like random things I would find in my adventures in the streets and wildlands of the south. Lots of records, tapes and compact discs. I was also an avid dumpster diver and thrifter. I was really into skateboarding, mountain biking, punk rock, hip hop, jazz, blues, women, and the outdoors, so there was a lot of that kinda stuff in there. I can still smell the sandalwood and nagchampa.
Heather – The future of interior design will most certainly include:
Hmmm… good question! There’s a lot of talk about the value of interior design as a trade. Whether it can withstand the current state of design and internet shopping. I think, more so then ever, designers have the opportunity to grow their business in a smart way. I think the design trade will become even more innovative and we’ll see people get tired of the same look, dig deep and have fun!
Heather – I always tell my clients that if you invest in one thing, it should be:
Great upholstery!!! There is not substitute for comfy! You have to spend a bit more to get comfortable pieces that will last.
Heather – My favorite design book is: Haute Bohemians.
Thanks to Heather and Matt for sharing a little bit with us! I am so very lucky to be visiting these lovely people in the city of Santa Fe in just a few short weeks. I’ll report back with some travel and design highlights!
Until next time, XO CLAIRE
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Claire’s creative energy comes from her unique perspective on the world as both a trained interior designer and a passionate yoga teacher. Her affinity for kitchen design, timeless style and eclectic decorating are shared here, along with lots of interior design education and tips. Thanks for being here, please enjoy!