Designer Portfolio – Designing Women 2

Filed in Design and Decor by on December 13, 2015

DW2 Photo 10By Danielle Teigen

designingwomen2 is a company focused on creative design and one-of-a-kind decor. Linda Birmingham, Kris Carlson, Julie Erickson, Mary Lystad, and Kari Rasmus own the company—five women with varying backgrounds. Brought together by a mutual talent for creating beautiful spaces people call home. The women work out of a bright, beautiful showroom open to anyone looking for inspiration or the final piece to complete a space. The designers have worked on a variety of homes in the area, throughout North Dakota, as well as Arizona and the east coast. Good design knows no geographic boundaries.

Tell me about your team , who are they and what do they do for your clients?

DW: Each of us truly knows one style really well, so when we’re working on a project, we like to pick each other’s brains. We’re also aware of established relationships with clients, so we try to honor those when working on projects. We always work with a partner; that way we have someone to bounce ideas off of or to offer new ones. We’re very willing to try multiple approaches because we know we get a better result if we try them all.

DW2 Photo misc 2What is the process for incorporating a homeowner’s ideas into a design?

DW: We start by walking through the person’s home to see the space, and we talk to them about what would happen in a perfect world…what would the space feel like and look like? If the home isn’t in the Fargo area, we might ask for photos of the space to help the homeowner save on cost. We also look for ways to use what they already have that they love. A lot of it comes down to psychology—you have to read them and not just listen to what they say. We work toward a motto of “nothing you expect and more than you expected.”

How would you describe the Designing Women 2 design aesthetic?

DW: Unexpected and innovative. We design for each individual person, and because they are all different, every design is different.

How does designing for a lake home differ from creating a concept for a home in a metro area? How about home versus office?

DW: The process is typically the same no matter what setting we’re working in. For a lake home, we might ask for photos or have the owner pull images from magazines as inspiration. We know a lake home may be lived in differently, so we keep that in mind when choosing products and designing. In a commercial setting, we strive to create professional warmth. We want people to feel good in their environment, whether that’s a home, a business, or somewhere else.

DW2 Photo 6What role does your store play in helping customers understand your design style?

DW: People like to see, feel, and sit on furniture before committing to a purchase. To allow our customers that opportunity, we needed more space and merchandise. We keep an eclectic mix of pieces in the store, ones you can’t find anywhere else in the area. That’s what we want the retail store to be—somewhere people can go to get quality, one-of-a-kind pieces without having to travel to Minneapolis. In our store, they’ll also get that personal touch to guide them through the process to pull pieces together. Our retail store is open to anyone, not just clients. And we can drop ship items anywhere in the country, so our pieces are available in any geographic location.

How do you get to know a homeowner’s personal style?

DW: We learn a lot by listening, really listening. We end up talking almost interview-style, so we can get to know them—children, pets, age, everything. All of that plays into their personal style profile. We also learn a lot about a person by what she wears. It starts out feeling like an interview, but by the end of the project, we end up building great relationships with our clients.

What are the three most important components of designing a space?

DW: Function is the most important. We actually tell our clients after the reveal not to decide anything for a few days because they need to live with it to see if the space works for them. The sensory aspect is also important, because all five senses can be engaged in a single space. Color is the third aspect; especially in this area, we like to infuse pops of color in our environments for when we don’t have a lot of color outside. And for those who like tone-on-tone, we infuse color with beautiful preserved greens.

DW2 Photo 3What’s been the most challenging design project you’ve worked on?

DW: Because we work with such a broad range of clients, we can experience a variety of challenges. For example, a bowling-alley style room that is long and narrow can seem limiting in terms of placement and traffic flow possibilities. Also, the television! Televisions are so big and such a focus of most rooms that we really have to appease the watchers if we are going to create a successful design.

Describe your favorite design project.

DW: We love all of our projects; the reveal at the end is always our favorite part. The thrill is certainly theirs, but it’s ours, too. We did work on a particularly lovely lake home—massive logs, lots of stonework, and pine—but the homeowner told us the home just wasn’t her style. So we were challenged to create a soft, warm environment for her and her family to come together that reflected her style. And we did! Another instance was when we worked for an older woman who had lost her husband and now dreaded coming home, because he was no longer there. She told us she liked color but the space was all brown. We added so much color and made the space really vibrant; she cried when she saw it.

How is the principle of superior customer service evident in your design process?

DW: We treat all of our clients like our friends so they are comfortable telling us what they do and don’t like in a space. It’s fun for us so we make it fun for them, too. We also provide our clients with our email addresses and cell phone numbers so we’re accessible to them. For us, customer service is about making our clients happy in the end and making sure they enjoy the process from start to finish.

DW2 Photo 8How important are referrals in a design business like yours?

DW: So important! We have cases where we’ve worked on a commercial project and end up designing many employee homes. Or we have some clients who have us do one room, which turns into designing the whole home or even another home.

What is something you want people to understand about your business?

DW: The perception about home design has changed, and we’re happy about that. People used to think about it in terms of wealth and pretension, but HGTV has shown that everyone can benefit from having someone come in to help make a space look good. No matter what the budget is, we can make it work. Even with a small budget, we can make a big impact. Our design is uniquely tailored to each client.


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