Looking Ahead: Lessons and Resolutions


When 14 design personalities share wisdom, what becomes crystal clear is that beyond their vastly different clientele, projects, and pursuits, they are all emotional human beings who struggle, compromise, aspire, persist, and rebound. Sometimes the road is rocky; at other times the sailing is smooth. Through a real-life mix of trial and error, these fabulous folks are wiser and fiercer.

(left to right, starting at top row)

Rafael Kalichstein. Co-Founder: FORM Design Studio.

The year has reminded me to listen to my own instincts, to know when to say "no."  For designers, or any creative professional for that matter, fully valuing one's self and knowing how and when to step back are critical to success and, moreover, happiness and fulfillment.

Tracy Bulla. Senior Style Director: Home Accents Today.

My mother passed away at Christmas several years ago and since then, the holidays have filled me with a sense of dread from Thanksgiving right into the new year – as in no holiday cheer or carols and definitely no decorating. This year, I realized that dreading something, no matter what it may be, makes it only that much worse. So I decided to enjoy what the holidays bring – time with family and friends and all those we love best.

Xander Noori. Design Director: Michael Berman Limited

Dream bigger and reach higher. Twenty-Sixteen proved anything is possible when you have a vision and work towards it. So much happened in one year; Michael and I designed and launched a 75-piece lifestyle furniture collection with Theodore Alexander and then brought it to the Chinese market, all while dreaming up lighting collections for Robert Abbey and adding to the ever successful Studio Modern tile and stone offering with Walker Zanger. Looking forward, I am more optimistic than ever and eager to reveal what’s on the drawing board and where it takes us in 2017! The key is knowing what you want and putting your heart and soul into the work.

Aurielle Jones. Principal: Vivid Interiors.

The biggest lesson that I have learned this year is that you won't die from networking. As an introvert talking to new people can be a scary thing, so I would constantly put off networking events out of fear that people would sniff out my awkwardness. Recently, however, I've gone to several networking events and pushed myself to speak to at least 1 or 2 people -- baby steps! After I finished my challenge, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders, and realized it wasn't so bad. Going into 2017 I will feel the fear and do it anyway.

Christine Phillips. Principal: Viola PR and Design

No question my professional New Year’s resolution is to get hyper-organized. With multiple high profile clients, there are constant demands from press and licensing partners for quotes, images, written collateral – the works! So grateful to work with in-demand A-listers, my new system should keep everything nice and compartmentalized, even when I travel. Bring it on 2017!

Amy Flurry. Artist/Author/Communications Consultant.

I have learned that if I want the flexibility to work in a manner that supports my priorities, then I also have to offer flexibility in return to those companies I work with. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for engagement, but when you want to work together you can find a way where both will grow.

Kim Hernandez. Owner/Designer: The Gallery Interiors

The greatest lesson I've learned this year is realizing my worth and that I can say "No" if someone doesn't value my work. It took me a long time to get to this place and I've turned down projects that I felt weren't going to be mutually beneficial. That's a hard thing to do, but letting go of what isn't good for me allows me to make room for something better that may come my way.

Michel Smith Boyd. Principal: Smith Boyd Interiors

As an entrepreneur, I am ultimately responsible for everything concerning my business, both good and bad. More often than not I am making decisions that could affect me for months and years to come. This year’s lesson...sounds simple, but “trust your gut.” Trust that your inner voice is not opinion-based advice, but rather intrinsic and solely meant to serve your best interests.

Nick May. Founder: The Chaise Lounge Podcast.

The lesson I learned this year? I must have redundancy.  There is a saying that two is one, and one is none.  If a person or piece of equipment fail me, it costs me more time, money, and energy.  I must have backup!

Niya Bascom & Aniskha Clarke. ishka design.

Niya (left): To make decisions in under 30 seconds, i.e. trust in my gut more.

Anishka (right): To be much more proactive rather than reactive to opportunities.

Jaye Anna Mize. Home Editorial Director: Fashion Snoops.

We've had a lot going on in 2016 and, being the Director of the Home Division of a fashion company, I've always felt like a one man army. In the later half of the year, I gained a lot of positive ground by letting those around me support me. We is always stronger than I. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Justin Shaulis. Principal: Justin Shaulis Inc.

When you get a new pair of jeans, you know how it takes some time to get used to them and for the jeans to conform to you? Well, when you are buying upholstery long-distance for a client, the jeans concept might work and it might not. It’s hard to communicate “the sit” from afar, plus what’s right for one member of the family, might not suit another. I must work to remedy the situation and it’s going to take much more than throw pillows! Next year, I choose not to repeat this scenario.

Kerry Howard. Principal: KMH Interiors

I took time in 2016 to reflect back on my business of 12 years, and figured out why I didn’t feel as successful as in past years.  I found that I had allowed my clients to influence and sway my design process, which in turn didn’t produce designs that I was proud of or would consider magazine-worthy.  It’s important that, as designers, we never lose sight of who we are.  My mother always told me to go with my gut feeling and today, I live and design by that very thing. After all, that’s why we get paid to do what we do! #dropthemic

Photo: Lead image, top of blog: Eric Didier via Unsplash.

Jane Dagmi