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Welcome to the workspace of Andrea DeRosa and Ashley Manhan, the two stylish interior designers behind Avenue Interior Design. Individually they have worked at some of the top international design firms, but in 2009 they decided to join forces and build a design firm known for luxury interiors, attention to detail and on-trend style.
I sat down with the ladies of Avenue and we talked about their design upbringing, how they came together and what inspires them. They even gave us some great modern lighting ideas, which is often times one of the hardest stages in a design project. Here's how our conversation went.
Cori: When and how did you fall in love with design?
Andrea: My love of design started with a love of clothes, accessories and fashion in general. I was dressing myself by age six and soon after I started ‘borrowing’ my mom’s accessories…. Eventually this evolved into a love of (what I would later understand to be) interior design.
Ashley: My love for design definitely stemmed from my creative parents. My dad is a set decorator and my mom is a costumer for motion pictures, so I grew up on movie sets, watching creative visions come to life for the big screen. Its hard to not fall in love with design when that’s your childhood.
Cori: What is your design background, school, first design jobs, etc.
Andrea: I studied interior design at UW-Madison and my first design internship was at a firm specializing in (residential) kitchen and bathroom design and eventually I interned at a high end, full service residential design firm for a number of years. Once I moved to LA, I did a brief stint at a couple hospitality firms before landing at Dougall Design Associates in Pasadena.
Ashley: I had always taken art classes growing up and focused on painting and design in high school and college. It was always a goal of mine to get into the field of design as quickly as possible, so I started interning for a hospitality design firm during the day while doing the UCLA interiors program at night. From there I fell in love with designing hotels and worked at Cheryl Rowley Design and finally SBE.
Cori: How did you meet?
Andrea/Ashley: We met at a design firm in Santa Monica back in early 2006.
Cori: What triggered the desire to start your own firm?
Andrea/Ashley: We've both always been interested in having our own firms - something I quickly realized most people don’t want! When the economy slowed and our industry took a dive, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the leap. We didn't have too much to lose at that point, so we thought we might as well start building our own brand.
Cori: Where do you find inspiration?
Andrea/Ashley: Fashion continues to be a huge source of inspiration for us. We find inspiration in it all - current and past collections. Historical places and travel in general are also huge sources of inspiration.
Cori: Avenue's list of completed projects is an exciting range, which was your favorite (hotel, nightclub, office space, restaurant) and why?
Andrea/Ashley: That’s so hard! We’re fortunate our portfolio showcases so many styles. Borgata is a great client who often gives us creative carte blanche and we love the VIP dining lounge. The Society Club, that we designed for them (opened in June of last year). The Sayer’s Club, a nightclub we designed with SBE here in LA, was also really fun and it has a completely different feel.
Cori: Your current projects are in different locations (like New York for example), since you guys are based in Venice, California how do you balance travel, work and the creative process?
Andrea/Ashley: Last year was an insane year. We were traveling, on average, one week per month. At the time, the majority of our clients were based in Atlantic City or Manhattan so it worked out well. Constant access to the internet really allowed us to continue work as usual. The creative process is always interesting... you really have to nurture that aspect of the business. It’s so easy to get tied down to the administrative aspects of the job. Luckily, staying creative is the part of the job that comes most naturally.
Cori: Can you tell me a little about your super cool I Heart Design blog?
Andrea/Ashley: I Heart Design is a bit of a blog/designer resource hybrid where we really make home furniture, accessories and lighting the focus of the site. Through IHD we're providing an accessible and immediate service based on our background as design professionals. It starts with an inspiration image, typically a picture of an interior or a mood/fashion image, identify the core elements that make that image intriguing like color, texture, pattern and scale, and select furnishings around that image/mood to create a unique room. Our marketplace acts as a basic search engine where you can view everything we've ever posted (don’t blame us if it’s no longer available. Just click on a piece you like and we directly route you to a retailer's site so you can view the product details and purchase the pieces instantly.
Cori: Now for some design insight. For each project, at what stage do you select lighting?
Andrea/Ashley: Along with the other furnishings, the lighting for a project is selected in the beginning after we establish the client’s programming needs. Lighting can be so dynamic and such a focal feature, it sometimes sets the mood for the entire space.
Cori: What are a couple of your favorites from Eurostyle Lighting?
Andrea: The Vienna Manhattan Wall Sconce from Eurostyle is such a little gem of a piece with just the right amount of glamour.
Vienna Full Spectrum Manhattan Wall Sconce
Andrea: We designed a fixture similar to this Crystal Cloud Suspension Halogen Chandelier, but much larger in scale for one of our projects. Suspension fixtures like this are stunning and have a little bit of a magical feel to them.
Crystal Cloud Suspension Halogen Chandelier
Ashely: The brass and wood accents make this fixture feel very upscale and stylized. We love the mid-century modern feel.
Jonathan Adler Ventana Brass Wall Lamp
Ashley: The classic industrial style of this pendant is perfect for any office space or kitchen.
Hudson Valley Haverhill Polished Nickel Pendant
Stay tuned for Part II of this interview where we'll take a look at some of Avenue's wide range of fun projects.
Image credit: Avenue Interior Design
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