By Jéssica Justo
My Design Journey: Arlene Angard on Her Love for Art, Finding Joy Through Design, and Future Projects
It’s safe to say 2006 will be a year that Arlene Angard will never forget. The interior designer behind Arlene Angard Interior Designs + Fine Art hit several major career milestones. She not only founded her own studio but also received recognition by being featured in the prestigious editorial pages of Elle Decor, Gallery, The New York Times, Traditional Home, New York Spaces, Luxe Interior + Design, Ocean Drive, EL UNIVERSAL, 1stdibs Introspective, NYC Cottage & Gardens and numerous other design and art publications.
CovetED Magazine‘s team had a lovely conversation with the New-York based interior designer and decided to share with us the incredible design journey of Arlene.
To her 25 thousand and counting Instagram followers, the interior designer‘s journey may look picture-perfect, but it hasn’t all been well-appointed interiors and splashy book deals. Ahead, Arlene pulls back the filter, discusses her unconventional path to becoming an interior designer, and shares her tips for adding meaningful art to any space.
Florence Stool | Essential Home
Image Credit: Arlene Angard Interior Designs + Fine Art
INSPIRATIONS BLOG: Tell us about the beginning of your journey in the design world? How did the love for interiors emerge?
ARLENE ANGARD: Living in New York City opens your eyes to art and architecture because the city has many reasons to love the culture. So when I decide to be an interior designer in New York City, I found a specific niche for me. As an art connoisseur, I found myself in a different way. The fact that I was raised with a background with lots of art from my family, opened my eyes to me to be involved with that. I grew up looking admiring art and being surrounded by beautiful decors, like different styles of furniture, area rugs, accessories, lighting, but the main focus was art. Something that I discovered is that the majority of interior designers have a lack of knowledge about art, and that is a problem that you see even during this day. The project is not finished. Art is extremely important in interior design because is the welcoming part of any space, it is the first theme that you’re going to see on the walls, only then do you see the surroundings. For me, it was very impressive to go with the client and walk through the art path simultaneously with the furniture because they really loved and enjoy it. It’s a story that you’re creating for them that goes from A to C. Sometimes the art has a sentimental value, other times it has an investment value, but it is always important. It is the starter of a conversation and welcomes a person into a space.
IB: Do you think that the relationship with the client can be the make or break of the project?
AA: Everything depends on the desires of the client. If the client wants to have a contemporary style project with contemporary art, we will look for that. But if the client wants to have a contemporary style, with classic art the result is completely different because we are now doing a design with an eclectic style. The main idea is to have the budget of the client and the style that they want to have. For example, many clients these days want to have photographs. Why? Because photographs are easy to change. It’s an investment that you do, but you don’t have to be related to this investment for 265 days if you don’t want it, you can easily find something new and exciting. A painting it’s a different perspective. Why? Because it is classic, and it can be contemporary but is more difficult to dispatch to. I have this kind of client that likes to purchase art and change the decor depending on the season, but they have a storage part of their house as well, so that makes the process a lot easier. Those are clients A+ because they really want to keep the space moving, and it’s magnificent. However, we have other clients who go for the trendy facts, like photography since it makes part of the NFT platform. We have a lot of collectors now for photographs because it involves you in the environment.
IB: When did you realize that it was time to create your own gallery/studio?
AA: I noticed when my clients meet with me in my home (that was my office), and they started to say they wanted to purchase my home which was my reflection as an interior design. That time I realized that I needed to have private space, and show more pieces. So at that time, I opened my first store that was some First Avenue between 88 and 89 streets in Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York City. At the time, we have two levels the ground floor and the lower level, and we saw a big success there. Then I decide to move my location to Madison Avenue, and as you know, in New York City, everything is about location. So when I moved to Madison, I have to go to a smaller space. Of course, you have to use your creativity to place the art pieces in a way that they don’t look crowded, and look in harmony, where each piece has a voice. Although the space was smaller, it gave me the opportunity to show them to more people because Madison Avenue is the destination for fashion, design, and art as well. It gave me the input to be perseverant in this field as an interior designer and art consultant. Later on, my first gallery on Madison Avenue gave me the confidence to open a second one bigger by myself.
IB: What is the secret to a great project?
AA: Everybody has a budget in their mind, you have to use your creativity in order to please your client because not everything has to be expensive to look super chic. You always can combine expensive things with things that are less expensive, however, the main idea is to create the story that is going to show the wow factor. The reason why clients come to us as interior designers is that they finish what they started that is to create a new look for their space, and that’s the beautiful thing. The wonderful feeling of receiving one client, year after year, reinsures that you’re doing something good. With my designs, I always like to mix something old with something new. I really appreciate more those projects where the clients show an old painting that they had from their family heritage, instead of a white canvas, because I like to see some of the past of the client. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot work with clients who have a white canvas, like the majority of young people who are working hard, have a lot of money but no time to find the right ideas.
IB: Who is Arlene Angard as a designer?
AA: Arlene is a woman who loves interior design and art. Arlene is a Latin lover who loves the world every single minute. I love to learn from people, I love to have a challenge, and love to learn from it. Arlene Angard is an interior designer with experience, talent, certifications, and great skills. The client has a desire and we make it happen, but our role is to guide the client, to suggest what is the best channel to have this beautiful story. We believe in people with skills, and we like to work with the best and respect their experience. We like to see the client happy, but we also like to see the friends of the client happy as well, because there are few referrals. (laughs)
IB: Is there a main message that you want to pass in your beautiful interiors?
AA: Actually, I have a motto, I have my three C’s, which are comfortable, chic, and colorful. All of my clients look for me to create their projects due to my 3C’s because they already know my vision, so I am really happy that I have been placing my three seats in the market since I opened my business as an interior designer. Sometimes, I add the fourth C, which is classic especially when the client is looking for a timeless space.
IB: What kind of projects are you working on right now?
AA: Right now we are working on high-end renovations. Lately, we are doing more renovations than ever. People are taking their homes seriously after the pandemic, and they have been paying attention to corners in their spaces that never paid attention to before. So, we have been receiving people, who have been saving money for the last 14 months, that feel confident to go now through their renovation, so they are taking serious investments in their properties to have comfort and functionality.
IB: …and what are the future? What are the next steps for you and your studio?
AA: The future is smiling at us. I am very grateful and happy because I can’t wait to see a collection that I’m designing which is a special thing for the coming year. My clients are requesting new projects, they are investing in more properties, so they are calling me already to see them with them. That said, we can see that the next year is going to be a better year than the one that we are having because people feel confident about their spaces and they want to invest money and time to create fabulous spaces that they always dreamed of, but never got it done. But now, since they are spending 80 percent of their time at home, they really want to make it happen.