I first met award-winning interior designer Ghislaine Vi?as on a PUBLIC group bike ride in Manhattan during the ICFF event that draws designers from around the world. She was there looking very Dutch (she was born in the Netherlands) on an orange PUBLIC?mixte?bike and riding with her Mom. Given how the Dutch lead the way when it comes to biking, we always feel especially complimented when the Dutch select our bikes.
It was at this ICFF event that I discovered Ghislaine and I had many shared personal interests, like an obsession with color and pattern. You can see this in her remarkable interior design work, and of course in the bike she rides 😉.
Read our complete interview with Ghislaine below.
PUBLIC: As the owner/creator of an interior design studio you are constantly called upon to come up with new ideas and solutions for creative problems. Where do you find inspiration?
Ghislaine: Its true that coming up with new ideas and creative solutions is a huge part of the job, but it’s the part I enjoy the most. I feel lucky to live in NYC and be surrounded by creativity and inspiration and I don’t need to go far to find it. But traveling is what really gives me inspiration.
I just came back from Panama and was really inspired by Panama City and the islands I visited when I was there. The Kuna woman of the San Blas islands wear the most beautiful traditional outfits that are crazily patterned and reverse embroidered. They originally used to paint their bodies with these geometric patterns and then as they westernized they transferred the patterns onto fabric. The Kuna women are tiny and wear these gorgeous bright red and yellow headscarves and lots of mixed patterns and colors. I had never heard of this tribe so it was a lovely discovery for me.
I love finding this kind of inspiration. I’m always planning and plotting my next adventure with my family especially during the cold winter months.
PUBLIC: What are the first steps you take when solving an interior design problem?
Ghislaine: I usually just tackle something head on and use my intuition, diving right in without thinking too much. I know that my first inspiration is just a starting point and I keep on developing and often changing an idea until I get it right. Sometimes I can’t really explain why something isn’t right so we just keep on going. It’s always a process and sometimes it takes designing a room countless times before it feels right.
PUBLIC: How does bicycling fit into your lifestyle?
Ghislaine: My bike IS my lifestyle. No matter what the weather, I ride my bike to my appointments and meetings and just everywhere I go. A lot of my activities are in downtown Manhattan and it’s just the easiest, fastest and most convenient way for me to get around. I know some people put their bike away for the winter but mine never goes into storage.
PUBLIC: Color plays an important role in your work. What inspires your color choices?
Ghislaine: Color has always made me feel very happy and I love surrounding myself with colorful happy things so at first it was just innate. My color choices are often driven by how I want a space to feel. I know that color can drive the way that spaces make us feel?and my designs work with that energy. Creating good solid neutrals in a room are important so that it creates a backdrop for me to incorporate color. We are always experimenting with color, and playing with nuances. But my work with color is something that is always evolving. I was very inspired by Dutch Design Week last year and was introduced to some really inspiring color combinations and ideas. I think I’m only at the beginning of my experimentation with color and hope to keep working and evolving in this area of my designs.
What’s your favorite color at the moment?
Ghislaine: I don’t have a favorite but I’ve always loved greens and am really intrigued with mixing super vibrant greens with more muddy ones. Recently I was in a tiny little village called Salt Creek on Isla Bastimentos in Panama. It’s the home of the still intact indigenous Indian Ngobe-Bugle people, and I noticed that a lot of the very crude and simple buildings that the locals had built were painted with vibrant greens. The buildings were pretty primitive looking but I loved the mixture of greens with which some of the houses were painted. I also love orange. I’m a sucker for bright vibrant clear colors.
PUBLIC: We notice that your PUBLIC bike is Orange ;-). How does your PUBLIC Bike reflect your personal style?
Ghislaine: Well, my bike is orange and since I was born in the Netherlands I feel like I am representing. ?? My PUBLIC bike feels like it was made for me personally and I think it’s strange when I see someone else with a bike like mine. That’s how personal the bike feels to me. I’ve always been drawn to color and riding a bright orange bike fits my style.
PUBLIC: Describe your perfect day on a bike?
Ghislaine: Since I use my bike in the city on a day-to-day level I’m not going to pick that as a perfect day (even though it certainly can be). My perfect day on a bike is waking up in the Netherlands and jumping on bikes with my parents, husband and kids and spending the day riding through the countryside, past windmills and into tiny villages. Stopping for coffee and lunch and ice cream along the way. We have been doing this since my girls were babies, riding in the kids seat connected to our bikes. Our kids would fall asleep and take their naps in the kids seats. Springtime in the Netherlands is amazingly beautiful and there is something so pure and simple about the bike rides we take in North Holland. We will be there again in a month so I’m really looking forward to breathing in the crisp fresh spring air and taking lots of bike rides.
PUBLIC: Are bicycles an important part of the community you live in?
Ghislaine: I’ve lived in my neighborhood Tribeca for 24 years and for a long time there weren’t too many bikes around, but in the last 5 years or so biking has become super popular. It’s so nice to stop at a stop light and have another bike pull up next to you, that didn’t happen until more recently. I think that drivers and taxis are also paying attention more and learning to share the road. It can be pretty scary riding in the city so it feels good to have a community of riders on the road. I wish we had better bike lanes and that the roads here were safer but it has never stopped me. Of course Citibikes has also doubled the amount of bikes on the roads.
PUBLIC: What makes your work unique?
Ghislaine: I’m so passionate about design and everything I do comes from my heart so its a really personal expression. When I am designing rooms I don’t think of furniture, rugs, and window treatments but I think of spaces as compositions. The solutions we offer our clients is always informed by what they tell us about themselves and what they want their space to feel like. So our interiors are always unique creations for those specific clients and that way our work remains fresh and unique.
PUBLIC: How do you keep your designs fresh and relevant?
Ghislaine: I’m a curious person and have a pretty short attention span. This means I am usually looking for something new and different to keep me occupied. It’s in my nature to try new things constantly.
PUBLIC: Any upcoming projects/partnerships/designs that you are excited about?
Ghislaine: I am currently collaborating with furniture designer and friend, Brad Ascalon on a furniture line for Loll. Loll is a fantastic, environmentally conscious furniture design company out of Duluth, MN and its been fun working on an upholstered line for them which we are hoping launches in the next 3 months. I feel lucky to be collaborating with Chet Callahan again. He is an architect in LA and our first project together was a project I am really super proud of so its great to be working on a second. I’m doing my 8th project with my good friend and client Paige West. I adore working with her and I always get excited when she tells me she has a project up her sleeve. I’m just really happy and proud of what we are doing in my office and the great team of people I get to work with every day. My husband Jaime is a great collaborator too and we are working with him on a number of projects too.