I decided a while ago that I wanted to start a weekly blog series that features designers and artists from around the world. I believe all designers and artists have unique perspectives and a variety of interests, backgrounds, and opinions. Society tries to pigeon hole creatives and say that we are all the same. I know that we are not and therefore wanted to feature a variety of designers and artists from around the world to get a variety of perspectives on a variety of topics. Here is my first Q&A with Tonisha of Plush Interior Design based in Miami, Florida.
Q: What should my readers know about you?
A: I am more than just an interior designer. I create ambiances that reflect a person’s, family’s or businesses’ individual self. My services are as therapeutic as a deep tissue massage, I find the root of the problem, iron out the kinks and the end result is more than just a beautiful home, space or business, I enhance lifestyles. I create spaces based on my clients’ need to enhance their emotional well-being.
Q: Tell me about how you became a designer.
A: I found my niche for interior design, while in college. Always finding ways to make my college apartment uniquely me, I would run to fabric stores to buy materials to decorate my house. I grew up in the fashion district in NYC, my father worked in the millinery industry business where I spent my summer vacation getting fabrics, textures colors and hues and also assisting him with his design needs. Eventually I felt compelled to create business cards and put my passion to work.
List your favorites:
Band: The Roots & No Doubt
Artist: Michael Jackson
Store: Right now it’s probably Anthropology
Movie: Legends of the Falls & Moonwalker
TV Show: Oh my I have so many, let’s see Kell on Earth, the Mentalist and Oprah.
Q: As a child, what did you think you would be when you grew up?
A: My childhood dreams (because we always have more than one) were to become an Artist, a Dancer and a Veterinarian. I have a weak stomach so medical school was out of the picture. So now I’m focused on perfecting my artistry as an Interior Designer and to keep in shape – not to mention I love it – I dance as well.
Q: What inspires your designs?
A: I get inspired from my environment, I study the world the present, past and where the world is going. I also pay close attention to my clients’ moods, likes and dislikes.
Q: Explain your creative process
A: My creative process is inspired by my clients and their needs. I start by focusing on the way they want their space to feel and the ambiance and character they would like it to create. I then focus on the way the space needs to function for my client, making sure the space is best optimized and maximizing the value of their living area. After combining ambiance and function, I then add the Art. This is the part where you truly get to see the room come to life and creatively reflect the personality of the client while serving as a functional living environment which will enhance their life.
Q: What is the best advice that anyone has ever given you?
A: I spoke to Kelly Cutrone one day when I was really frustrated with work and feeling down and out about my company. She told me “It’s all a game”. That put things in perspective for me. She also stressed how important it is stay true to who you are & brand yourself. This is the advice I remember when going through challenging times.
Q: If you had to do anything other than be a designer, what would you do?
A: DANCE DANCE DANCE! Oh and be a Veterinarian, if I didn’t have such a weak stomach!
Q: What do you love about what you do?
A: Oh my, there is so much that I love. I love the fact that I get to increase the quality of life for my clients. I love how my career has allowed me to get more connected with the minds of people, my clients and creators within my industry and of other industries.
Q: What has been the key to your success thus far?
A: Perseverance and resilience without those two I would have crumbled a long time ago. As any other entrepreneur would say, starting your own business is definitely a challenge and in order to maintain your sanity, one needs to persevere through all trials and tribulations and be resilient against any naysayers and / or obstacles that can hinder your progress.
Q. If your life was an amusement park ride, what would the ride be named?
A. Wow! That’s a new one for me. Hmmmm, if my life was an amusement park, I would name my ride Nish’s Sky Rocket because ‘sky’s the limit’ but I’m aiming for the stars!
Q: What do you do to expose yourself to new ideas and new thinking on a regular basis?
A: I try to always keep an open mind and pay attention to my surroundings. I pay attention to how people live in every aspect. I also try not to resist change while holding on to some traditional values and elements from the past. I create spaces for my clients to live, grow and function in today’s world. In order to do that to the best of my ability and to the highest benefit for my clients, I study the environment in which their surrounded and assess their wants. I create a juxtaposition of their location and the ambiance they would like to come home to.
Q: What lessons have you learned in your work life that you apply in the rest of your world?
A: Normal doesn’t exist! As a designer you spend lots of time in people’s home and listening to the story of their lives. I realized everyone has a story; there is no such thing as NORMAL.
A: Pick one characteristic from your personality and explain why you think it has helped you gain success.
Q: Oh, this is a hard one. I think you should ask a loved one that question. My family tells me, I’m very opinionated and at times this can work for me and against me. I seldom let other people’s thoughts and actions supersede mine unless they’re within good reason (in my opinion). I’m very strong-willed with strong beliefs and that what I believe keeps me grounded and ultimately makes me who I am.
Q: Tell me a story about your work that either made you extremely proud or disappointed.
A: A few years ago I designed and decorated a 7,000 sq/ft Dog Hotel & Spa, which I had 10 days to do with about 5 day’s notice. I didn’t exactly know how I was going to do it within that time frame, but I got it done! The client was extremely happy and that was definitely a proud moment for me.
Q: If you could have dinner with absolutely anyone living or dead, who would you choose? Why?
A: Michael Jackson & Oprah. Michael Jackson because he was such an innovator and perfectionist. I would love to talk to him about the challenges between the two. I became a dancer because of Michael Jackson. He reinvented dance as an art form and expressed the importance of music and the influence it had on the world. Oprah is also an innovator; she envisioned a career for herself which existed for no one at the time let alone a black woman. She pioneered talk show television through the thought provoking topics and people she covered. She continues to exude a certain positive aura through her generous donations to underprivileged children, countries and cities and I’d love to pick her brain on how she came to be the amazing woman she is today.
Q: If you could do anything you wanted right now professionally, what would it be?
A: I would l love to have a project going on within five different countries simultaneously. That would be a dream! I love to travel and I have been to many regions where I wish I could have the opportunity to work with the architecture of a specific country.
Q: Are there any words of wisdom that you would pass along to a struggling designer?
A: Believe in yourself, acknowledge great accomplishments, be aware and present with your surroundings and environment. Also, listen to your clients, try to hear their needs, sometimes they communicate them directly and other times indirectly.