The 5 Essential Client Documents You Need Before Starting Your Next Project

When diving into an exhilarating new project, the last thing you want is to be unprepared, scrambling to get it together. As designers and business owners, a million priorities run through our minds, from achieving big career goals to that lampshade trim that didn’t arrive at your workroom yet. One of the keys to being a successful interior designer is having a clear plan and the logistical wherewithal to execute that plan. I know from experience how vital it is to lead with a solid first impression AND what powerful assets back it up.  I’ve gathered the top 5 essential documents from the Circaphiles library to ease your stress, enhance your productivity and let your project flow.  Don’t start your next project without them!

interior design by athena calderone; photography by nicole franzen

1.  Discovery Call Checklist

Oftentimes, we find ourselves so caught up in figuring everything out on our own, that we begin to lose sight of the things we can be doing that really matter  – like garnering the right clients.  This Checklist offers you a solution. You can quickly grab it when a potential client calls, focus the conversation and gracefully ask succinct questions to determine if you may be a good fit…or if you need to run for the hills!

ACCESS the Circaphiles Checklist and make your client interview a breeze.

2.  Initial Consultation Questionnaire

After speaking to a new client on the phone and upon meeting them for the first time in person, it’s imperative to ask specific, insightful questions to dig out the details and better see the direction of this project.  If their responses consist of a lot of “I don’t know”, that may mean you’re headed for months of indecision resulting in gaps in your cash flow.  If their responses are quick and firm, they’ve given you a glass of water and asked about you personally, then it looks like you’re in for years of a joyous relationship with respect and understanding.  

ACCESS the Circaphiles Expert Guide and relish in this newfound confidence.

3.  Interior Design Contract

Creating a solid contract is one of the tasks that designers often shy away from. We know it’s important, but our emotions – fear, uncertainty, perfectionism – hold us back. Enter, Circaphiles “What I Wish I Knew – to Include in a Worry-Free, Ironclad Interior Design Contract ” Expert Guide.

Timothy Corrigan, internationally-acclaimed interior designer and Circaphiles ambassador, and I share what we learned the hard way – through experience – so that you can start your first day on your new project knowing that you will get paid on time and that the client is clear about your business model and your fees. 

We created this Guide to help you steer that stellar first impression you made towards a strong, effective contract which ensures the lines of communication between you and your client stay open and also protects you and your business from misunderstandings and – we hate to say it – lawsuits. Maybe you’re thinking, “But I already have a contract”. We believe it can always be improved!

ACCESS the Circaphiles Expert Guide to start devising or improve that outdated contract.

4.  New Client Welcome Packet

When a new client signs on, a proper welcome is a must!  Such a packet will allow you to spell out in layman’s terms what’s next, communication channels and timeline expectations.  My version is sometimes sent with the Interior Design Contract when all signs point to “GO”.  The small brochure is branded (every page!) and gives insight into our company values, what sets our studio apart, how we can move forward, who we will be for the client and who the client needs to be for us to work best together.

5.  INTERIORS Budget

Some designers provide a more “broad strokes” project budget.  I issue a completely transparent, line item budget including a high/low net cost range all the way down to third-party freight and time billing.  For me, this format eliminates questions during the process and allows us to focus on the fun of designing!  After we’ve finalized concepts and preferred quality level, I present the budget alongside furniture plans.  The goal is to have pricing approved before I start sourcing actual furnishings. 

Why?  Reprioritization can occur during the budget approval process as they see how it all adds up.  I shouldn’t waste my time (aka the client’s money) pulling Fortuny drapery fabric for a room that I deem more important, but, in fact, the clients want a higher-end look in another room.  Our template crystallizes investment levels and will lead you and your client through the entire design process.

ACCESS the Circaphiles Budget Template and save countless hours creating your own.

members, download these complimentary templates and guides in your dashboard.

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Communication is Key: Tips on communicating with clients during a supply chain disruption or project delays.

Communication is Key:

Tips on communicating with clients

during a supply chain disruption or project delays

Living through the most unexpected and equally challenging time these past few years has transformed our lives in how we live, work, engage with others, and how we approach our health and well-being.  I’ve heard from designers (and experienced in my own projects) everything from a missing polymer to cause an eggshell finish paint shortage from a major supplier, to trucking companies with a skeleton crew of drivers to create a several week (if you’re lucky) backlog of shipments.  Last week, I received word on my client project that my cabinet maker cannot get drawer glides and install the built-in cabinetry (in a bathroom that’s already 2 months overdue) until who in the world knows when.  These are not excuses, but rather…realities.  So, now that we can foresee this ongoing theme, let’s make comfort in the uncomfortable.

Here are my best practices for giving your clients the peace of mind they seek by creating a healthy line of communication.  And watch your project flow!

DESIGN BY interior designer & Circaphiles ambassador michel smith boyd

DESIGN BY interior designer & Circaphiles ambassador laura hodges studio



Communicating frequently with your client about disappointing news can be exhausting and dilutes the fun. Consider sending an email to your clients every two weeks, on a standing day, with a project update.  Offer lead times in a date range instead of a particular date, taking generous freight time into account.  For example, “Your goods are estimated to be completed in 8-12 weeks, then will be released for shipping.  At that time, we can update you on the current shipping times for delivery to your project.”  Depending on how tech forward your client is, create a client-facing, simple google sheet of installation time frames by room, trade (i.e. electrical, painting), or grouping of items (i.e. plumbing fixtures, all window treatments). If it’s a live google doc,  carve out the time in your schedule to update it as consistently as you promised to the client.

DESIGN BY interior designer & Circaphiles ambassador right meets left interior design



The words “in stock” listed on a tear sheet will not cut it. Product inventory is constantly fluctuating, not just during this time. Take fabric for example – it can be in stock at 9:30 am before you leave for your meeting and then out of stock by 5 pm on the very same day, after your client approved that “perfect fabric”! In client presentations, I will take a break between rooms not only to catch my breath, but intentionally to check inventory on the significant fabrics and place a quick reserve right then on the phone.  Three things can occur:

  1. If it’s back ordered too long or discontinued, then we pick something else.  Before our presentation, it saves face to contact the sales rep of your major fabric options to make sure it is not discontinued.  That can easily happen if you have a vast fabric library at your studio!
  2. If the client doesn’t like anything as much as that perfect fabric, then this is a healthy first step in early communication about lead times – maybe the client doesn’t mind (terribly) waiting for it.
  3. It doesn’t hurt to choose a backup fabric or let the client know that you may need to sub in an alternate if you cannot confirm stock on the phone since some mills are located in a time zone where they are already closed for the day.

DESIGN BY interior designer & Circaphiles member julia wong designs



Even before signing on a client, lend firm, yet polite honesty about lengthy lead times, postponed deliveries and labor shortages for all of the trades working on their project. Energize the discussion with a reminder that it will all be worth the wait!  Setting the expectation will help steer clients away from asking every single day when their items will arrive or when their remodel will be done.  This disclaimer is an essential part of my own new client welcome packet!



Take the finish dates your contractor provides and multiply that by three. Why? Most general contractors don’t have all in-house sub-contractors, therefore they don’t have 100% control over those subs they rely on to execute the work. Even before a project, it would behoove you to inquire with your general contractor if they have multiple quality options for each trade to pull from in a pinch.  In this unique time in history, so many aspects are unpredictable, and padding your lead time on labor and product will give you the space to complete your project without your client becoming frustrated.

DESIGN BY interior designer & Circaphiles ambassador marea clark interiors 


Remember: You are not Amazon Prime

Your clients likely hired you for a custom level of interior design which isn’t sitting on a shelf somewhere.  Even though you may have a reputation of being a miracle worker and master problem solver, the supply chain disruption has strained all designers’ services. Though difficult, it’s paramount to be up front with your clients and prevent your reputation from getting bruised. It will hold you in higher stead and take a great deal of pressure off of you so that you can focus on what you do best, being creative! 


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with our newest membership, the Key Holder!

Chic Shopping in Chicago…The Circaphiles Way!

Our last visit to Chicago was a whirlwind with all of the buzz at the Design Social Pop-Up! In our free time, we snuck in a little shopping and sightseeing around the city. Chicago has a rich history in home furnishings dating back to the golden heydays of Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck and Co. From furniture, lighting, art, and decor, take home our special city edit below!

xo Genevieve


Since its founding in 1989 in Chicago’s River North arts district, The Golden Triangle has been a national source for Asian and European luxury furnishings. Owners Douglas Van Tress and Chauwarin Tuntisak travel extensively, searching for pieces with a unique history and the highest quality. The collection is unmatched!


Architectural Anarchy is a 30,000-square-foot showroom in Chicago, IL filled with a remarkable array of unique antiques and mid-century modern finds. Gosia Korsakowski and William Rawski are constantly shopping for intriguing mid-century, Folk Art, industrial and architectural pieces throughout the U.S. and Western Europe.

image by vern + vera


VERN + VERA houses discerning fine vintage furnishings and accessories primarily from the 60s through the 80s. Owners, Eric Silverstrim and Sean Cowan share a mission to curate a collection of more obscure collectible pieces and resist trendy iconic designs. The inventory focuses on clean-lined modernism as well as sculptural statements, all while maintaining a timeless sophistication.



Asrai Garden was founded by Elizabeth Cronin in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park in 1999. This retail outpost is known for stunning floral arrangements, luxurious fine jewelry, and magical curiosities. 


A beautiful place to have a glass of wine, as I did in between meetings, and drool over the stunning Venetian Gothic architecture. The Chicago Athletic Hotel proved to be a magnificent study for my Utah project. The Drawing Room evoked wonder and comfort. It was hard to even get past the grandeur lobby!



If you are looking for a respite outside of the city, head north to Lake Forest – an enclave of lush greenery and the finest-appointed homes.  Full of history and grace, The Armour House was completed in 1908. Sitting on a 1200-acre property, Italianate mansion is constructed of huge marble slabs, bronze stair railings, and hand-carved panels. Many of the house’s mantle pieces and the paneling of the library reading room were imported from Paris, Vienna, and London. Today, The Armour House serves as a stunning wedding, social and corporate event venue.  And we were lucky enough to be hosted by this glorious place for the Design Social Pop-Up!  All of the contemporary textiles on display looked oh so fabulous against all the heavy traditional moldings – the most beautiful combination, in our eyes.

Snapshot on Photography

You’ve spent months (if not years) sourcing for the perfect pieces, curating just the right fabrics and paints, and working alongside your preferred workrooms to bring to life custom finishings. The only thing left to do is share your project with your clients…and hopefully the world! Placing your project into the capable hands of an interior photographer is the final step in your project’s journey and one of the most important to garner future clients. We tapped three top interior photographers and Circaphiles directory members to share their philosophy on design, their creative approach, and what they wish interior designers knew for best possible results. Meet them below and hear their take!

photography by margaret wright


A Florida native, photographer Elizabeth Nielsen grew up in the sun at the beach…and not much has changed! Now based in Los Angeles, Elizabeth photographs interior and architectural projects from the exteriors to the interiors, down to the furnishing, accessories, and design details. With both parents as architects and growing up in design firms, the passion for design has been engrained in Elizabeth from a very young age. She also draws influence from her grandmother, an established abstract painter from the 1960s. Elizabeth’s immersive experience attending Savannah College of Art and Design and graduating with a BFA in interior design was the foundation for her love of emotive imagery of architecture and interior photography.

Margaret Wright

Ever since her days as a young girl exploring picturesque Charleston, SC, and the wild, rough aesthetic of the South, Margaret Wright has been drawn to beauty in all things. As an interior and architectural photographer, Margaret is passionate about capturing great design and the heart of a space. She first fell in love with design and the art of communicating a brand’s identity through images when she was working as the lead photographer and stylist for a home decor and furniture company. Today, Margaret is taking those skills into spaces to tell the stories of designers, architects, and builders, and the beauty they create.

Sara essex Bradley

Sara Essex Bradley has been a professional photographer since 1999 shooting for local and national magazines, as well as design professionals. Sara received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the University of Georgia. For her continued education, she assisted in New York for 4 years. Sara started her business in her hometown of New Orleans and now travels all around the world photographing residential and commercial interior projects. In July 2015 Sara was awarded the New Orleans Press Club Award for Still Photography Feature.

Q. What is one thing you wish interior designers knew about working with an interior photographer?

SARA essex BRADLEY: One thing designers should know is that every angle they had imagined may not be viable, and they should trust their photographer to show the space off in the most sophisticated way. What they see on their phone snap may not be the best final shot to attempt. That being said, absolutely do point out the special details so we don’t overlook them. Also, a one-day photoshoot is two days: one for shooting and one for editing and retouching. That part takes just as long and requires just as much skill and equipment. Sorry, that’s two things!

photography by sara essex bradley

  • Q. How can designers better prepare for photo shoots with a photographer?

    Margaret wright: Always bring more than you think you need. More accessories, more books, more foliage. And scope out the house before, especially if it’s been a while since the install. Set expectations with the homeowner, there’s nothing worse than walking into a surprise on shoot day. You should also consider capturing some lifestyle imagery of you and your team in the space! These images are great for marketing and social, but you definitely want to knock them out at the beginning as shoot days tend to be long and involve a lot of heavy lifting.

  • Q. How do you approach a shoot to ensure you capture the space in the best possible way?

    elizabeth nielsen. I like to do a few laps of the project (ideally before a shoot) to get a sense of the scope myself so certain moments can start to be visualized; along with observing what times of day the light is best to fully enhance a space. 

photography by elizabeth nielsen

  • Q. What are some misconceptions about design project professional photography?

    elizabeth nielsen: That it’s unnecessary; the thing is, you’ve worked hard to “birth” your project, and it should be presented as such — it’s a memory in time worth preserving at the highest quality.

  • Q. What is one timeless moment you like to capture in a project photo shoot?

    sara essex bradley: I like to find one space in the house where the light is doing something interesting and dramatic, or I can relate two spaces to each other, like looking through a door from room to room, or down the stairs. I know it when I see it.
    If I am capturing lifestyle/people moments in the space, I like to wait until the homeowners are relaxed and interacting with each other. They’ll usually do something a lot more interesting than when I try to pose them.

photography by margaret wright

  • Q. What are the top three must-haves at a photoshoot?

    margaret wright:

  • -Books
    -Flowers + houseplants
    -Lunch! We all like to power through like we don’t need it, but I find the best work happens when everyone is fueled.

  • Q. Is there one thing editors are always looking for when you pitch your projects?

    sara essex bradley: That’s the elusive question, isn’t it? I think they are all different, but I think most just want to see something original and fresh, regardless of the style. I think the best way to pitch a project is to study the look of the magazines you are pitching, and find where your project would fit in. Also, even if it’s a magazine that sends their own art directors and photographers to shoot for their pages, it’s always better to send professional photos for them to consider, and not phone snaps.

photography by sara essex bradley

Members, discover innovative and accomplished interiors

photographers FOR your next project in our directory.

Not a member yet? Streamline your studio life with the click of a button.



Unlocked: Lloyd Princeton


Lloyd has guided firms to growth through realistic goal-setting through building the right team. From negotiating contracts to compensation plans, his expertise is frequently sought after when disputes arise between designers and their clients. His clients include a bevy of interior design, architecture and manufacturing clients. Lloyd presents us with the foundational things every interior designer should implement to position themselves for success!



Treat your job like a business, not just a creative pursuit. People are hiring you for a service which has deadlines, budgets, and numerous resources that need to be managed. Never lose site of the fact that you are in business to fulfill client wishes and make money. If client expectations are not realistic, then this needs to be addressed as often as needed, otherwise the business venture starts skewing towards a not-for-profit!

Image: Fred Licht


Learn AutoCAD. Step two: edit your portfolio to reflect your very best work with the very best images. Using the excuse of not having images because of having NDA’s doesn’t wash. Step three: 20 years of experience does not mean you have talent, it just means you’ve persevered. Ask someone you don’t have any emotional or financial connection with to evaluate your portfolio and then apply to positions consistent with your aesthetic and technical abilities.



Technical skills (usually AutoCAD, Sketchup, familiarity with Studio Designer/Webware or Ivy), experience with the resources that the firm uses, ability to think without needing constant direction, and willingness to show-up and do the job.


The greatest advantage is having a search specialist focus full-time on a design firm’s talent needs. It’s not that different from the public hiring interior design professionals. We are trained to focus on the goal while our clients go about their priorities which means satisfying their own clients! In terms of matchmaking successes, we have many of them! People who enjoy working together are the greatest goal because so many skills and even aesthetics can be trained. We are in the people business and it’s just sooooo much easier when you/we like who we are working with. And since we guarantee placements for one year, our clients have plenty of time to test out new hires.


5. For the designers who have sole proprietorships and are looking to make their first hire, how should they prepare mentally and financially to ensure a healthy work environment?

Trust that they will be able to make money from their new hire by direct billing of their services to clients or through efficiency gained by having someone else do the tasks they have been struggling to do themselves. As I like to refer to certain tasks that I get burdened with, “they are beneath my paygrade.” Secondly, be organized and prepared to receive a new person and show them your systems. Every business operates differently, and setting up phones, computers, e-mail accounts, file access, explaining projects, the whole onboarding process takes time. Better to do over a weekend when the phones aren’t ringing than trying to cram into a busy Monday morning!



I think the best interviews are thorough ones. Give a candidate space to answer and don’t be afraid to probe more deeply on responses of concern. We administer a third-party personality profile that offers interview questions to be used when a candidate scores poorly in a certain area. However, here are just a few sample questions that can be used for general screening that one of our client uses:  What led you to the field of design? Tell me about some of the highlights of your design education. Who are some designers that you admire, and what do you like about their work? How do you like to get started on a new design project? Do you like working on a team or individually? What are some of your strategies for staying organized on a daily or weekly basis? What bookkeeping systems have you worked with? What has your role been in the purchasing cycle? Have you spent time at the local design center? What are some of your go-to vendors?

Image: 1stdibs


I started in the industry 25 years ago and was an Administrator for the California North Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers. It was a fascinating position with views of industry from a macro & micro perspectives: interior designers, design centers, showrooms, professional development. I was also blessed to have a robust speaking career, delivering professional development seminars throughout North America and internationally to groups of design and architecture professionals. Years later I still hear from attendees who say that my advice changed their careers and in some instances, their lives! I’m honored when I get this feedback!



I think that the work will become more defined and that designers and their employees alike will look to do their jobs and then live their lives. While it’s not going to be 9-5 per se, firms are now providing more time off then I’ve ever seen before. I have a new interior design firm coming on board that offers 15 days PTO and closes the last ½ of December—amazing! I’m very impressed with  the quality of life benefits many small (less then 10 people) design firms are now offering and it speaks to the reality: we work to live, not live to work. And the Principals of firms should not expect their staff to treat their business as they do because at the end of the day, their names are not on the door.

Paving the Road to Beautiful Interiors…One Tile at a Time

Just as each stone is laid to create a marvelous mosaic, Nancy Epstein, Founder of Artistic Tile, built the foundation of her company one step at a time with precise product development skills and an elaborate eye for design. After designing custom cabinets for her young son’s bedroom, the cabinet maker was so impressed with the results that he asked Nancy to come work for him in his Tenafly, New Jersey showroom. Nancy quickly recognized that the cabinetry showroom could do more business if they would offer more products for the bath and kitchen. She soon took over the business and the rest was history! Today, Artistic Tile has become one of the largest wholesale distributors of luxury tile and stone across the United States. 

Read on as Nancy unveils the artistry and mastery of tile design, how it affects aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability…and what you can expect to see next from the unparalleled craftsmanship, from stone to glass to ceramics, of Artistic Tile.

Image via artistic tile

Q. You have made significant strides with sustainability. Why is it important to your company and how does sustainability, in turn, add value to your projects?

 A. Our company has an eye on the long game and our products are meant to be enjoyed for the life of the residence – for decades, for generations. since we view our world through that lens, the concept of disposable, “faux decor” and fast fashion is antithetical.  All we do here, in terms of powering our huge facility via electricity that is partially generated via solar panels on our roof and the use of constantly recycled rainwater to enable water-intensive cutting of stone, is abetted by the knowledge that stone is inherently a sustainable product, with abundant and beautiful resources.

Image via artistic tile 

Q. What should be considered in planning a bathroom design?

 A. Far more important than the selection of elegant and enduring surfaces, we must acknowledge that no bathroom can be a success unless it functions for the person for whom it was designed. My needs and desires are not yours. You may love a leisurely bath, and I may never take them. My shower should be a total delight, while your tub must be a source of sybaritic pleasure. If you are marvelously organized, open shelving can be ideal. If I am inclined to be messy, drawers and closets are a must. The designer who does not truly know the client will have a rough time creating a perfect space.


Q. For clients who have large families or often host dinner parties, how do you stay conscious of acoustics in selecting tile/stone for a kitchen?

A. there are many non-stone spaces in a kitchen, and ceilings are rarely over 10 feet. however, it would be an experience to encounter a kitchen with acoustical challenges due to stone surfaces.

  • Q. What are the smartest countertop material choices for a heavy-use kitchen? Could you give us the advantages of each so that we can convey to our clients?

    A. We are experiencing something of a “Golden Age” of counter surfaces – we offer so many marbles, quartzites, labradorites, granites, of extraordinary color range and “look”.  All of them function beautifully as kitchen counters.  The veined white marbles from the great quarries of Carrara have been highly prized since antiquity.  These marbles will of course acquire the “patina of life well-lived” over time, which in no way mars their appeal.  In fact, classic white marble is being used for counters, islands with waterfalls, and backsplashes more than ever before.  Quartzites, especially those from Brazil and Nigeria, are often vividly colored, in blues, greens, golds, and rose, and frequently have a ravishing translucence.  Quartzite is by nature significantly resistant to the etching that can occur when acid hits stone, and this ability makes it a superb choice for the adventuresome home chef with an eye for beauty! 


  • Q. Most of your mirror glass tiles are hand-silvered. Tell us more about that classic technique so that we can better convey the value to our clients.

    A. Our mirror tile is created by hand, as pure elemental silver is poured directly onto the glass. The silver forms into a thin layer, resulting in a “pure” mirror, but the extraordinary alchemy of our Charleston collection only begins there.  The ability that antiqued mirror has, to both conceal and reveal, to subtly alter reality is the core of its appeal, so each different item in the collection begins with that concept, and then diverges.  Antique mirror is offered in beveled tile, which adds the dazzle of faceting to a wall.  We silver and then antique grooved glass, to create a tile we call Gaslight, and swirled “hurricane” glass, which we named Veranda.  We have acid washed the face, and applied a special formula to the hand-silvered reverse which adds intense iridescent blues and bronze – this is our Carolina tile, and our most recent tile, Garden District, adds gold and magenta-hued iridescence, plus drizzles of molten glass.  The totality of this collection has expanded the definition of what a mirror tile is, and how utterly it can transform a space.




Our desire to constantly delight the eye of our audience with materials that will maintain appeal for decades informs all we do, as we visit quarries, as we create new mosaics, as we work with the finest artisans working in stone and glass and ceramic.  This is actually a liberating factor for our design team, who can bring their knowledge of centuries of great uses of these materials to the development process.  We also bring to our showrooms a constant, and constantly refreshed, dedication to being an irreplaceable resource to the architectural and design communities.  We visually refine our showrooms so that they represent the finest of what we offer our audience, just as we refine the skills and expertise of an already strong team in each of our locations.

Be sure to stop by their site to see all of the latest and bring some of their luxury, handcrafted pieces to your next project!

Image via artistic tile 

Unlocked: Lucia Schito

We recently chatted with circaphiles ambassador & Director of the Americas for Salone del Mobile over the past 20+years Lucia Schito

Industry insider and a valuable point of reference for many iconic international brands, Circaphiles ambassador, Lucia Schito sat down with us to dicsuss what’s inspring her, her career and everything in between. Plus she is sharing ways designers can lean on her as a resource! With over 20+ years as an ambassador for some of the top Italian design companies she is seasoned at partnering with the world’s leading architects and designers on their most delicate projects.


1. In all of your experience with Italian furnishing brands, which companies have stood out to you and why?

It’s hard for me to single out one company or another.  It would feel like playing favorites. Considering a number of different product categories, I would say, companies like Porro, Kartell, CC-tapis, Valcucine, Salvatori, Moroso, Antonio Lupi, Gessi, Flos who have invested in innovation along with creativity and have embraced new ways of conducting business with an understanding of global dynamics while preserving their identity are definite stand outs.


2. What are the advantages for a US designer to work with an Italian brand?

Italian brands are, for the most part, family run businesses which are very proud of their heritage, their passion and individual style. They don’t like to cut corners to favor profit over design. These values are apparent in the attention to detail of their products and collections. A designer who includes an Italian piece in their project gets to include something that goes beyond the piece in itself. It’s about romance, passion, tradition – a piece of art.

Image: lucia schito

Image: luski

3. How can Circaphiles interior designer members lean on you as a resource?

I’ve been in the design industry for the past 20+ years as an ambassador of the best Italian design companies and, thanks to the relationships I’ve formed over these years, I can facilitate direct and personalized access to the manufacturers who Circaphiles’ members would like to meet or also identify the best potential source for their projects, help arranging factory tours and exclusive access to behind-the-scenes creative processes.


4. What’s your best-kept secret for inspiration?

Photography – (particularly black and white) because it always makes me look at things through a different lens ….no pun intended!

5. As an extensive traveler, which destinations would you recommend for designers seeking fresh inspiration?

Puglia, Italy for its beautiful coastlines, healthy simple southern Italian cuisine & heritage. Lecce, nicknamed “Florence of the South”, and Otranto, full of incredible byzantine mosaics, are must-see destinations.  The area is still very pristine and relatively undeveloped but is gaining attention among the design community and celebrities alike.


6. Tell us about where you are from, how you were raised, and how that has led to your career in the design industry.

I was born in a small town in the south of Puglia, on the very heel of the boot that is Italy. From there my passion for architecture and design brought me initially to Milan, then to Germany with Benetton and later to Miami as brand ambassador for Bisazza, Dedar, Hermes Home Fabrics and ultimately the entire Italian design community as Director of the Americas for Salone del Mobile over the past 20+years.

Image: inspirato

Paris is Always a Good Idea: Shop, Stay, Eat & Wander the Circaphiles Way

Every January, after the last remnants of the holiday season have been tucked away, designers from around the world descend on the city of lights. A menagerie of styles and taste converge for a trip to Maison & Objet Paris at the Parc des Expositions and Deco Off in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement. The preeminent furniture and design showcase is a favorite of myself and many designers, and for good reason. And while this year’s event has been postponed until March, it is the perfect time to start preparing to make the most of your trip! Read on for a portrait of Paris, offering my curated edit on what to see and do.

xo Genevieve

image by culturepassport

image by everydayparisian

A snap from Genevieve’s most recent trip to Paris! 

image by hoteldelamarine


  1. Oscar Wilde’s L’Hotel – Oscar Wilde took up residence at the end of the 19th century and lived at L’Hotel until his death, famously claiming to ‘live above his means’.  After undergoing extensive refurbishment in 1967, L’Hotel soon became the place to be seen in Paris, with every famous visitor to the city passing through its doors, from Salvador Dali, Princess Grace, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor to Richard Burton, Jim Morrison and Serge Gainsbourg.  L’Hotel’s iconic status as the leading hotel on the Left Bank was confirmed following a stunning overhaul by legendary designer Jacques Garcia, who won many accolades and awards.
  2. Search the St. Germain quarter on Airbnb for fabulous privately-owned pied-a-terres so that you can feel like you are a local!
  3. Hotel Esprit Saint-Germain is a very special boutique experience.
  4. Hôtel de la Marine sits on the corner of Place de la Concorde, the biggest square in Paris. Visitors often pass by and admire the stunning architecture from afar. But now you can go inside this iconic site too: the Hôtel de la Marine opened to the public in June 2021.  Allons-y!
  5. The Hotel de Cluny and The Aromatic Medieval Garden…the. name speaks for itself!
  6. Musée De La Chasse Et De La Nature This museum, which is located in the historic Marais district, in a 17th- and 18th-century house, looks like a private home. It celebrates animals in painting and the decorative artists. This cabinet of curiosities displays a collection of rare artifacts and contemporary works of art and is certainly worth a visit.

APRÉS shopping  

After a long day touring around Paris, it is time for a well-deserved meal! Whether you have a sweet tooth or looking for a drink on the rocks, these decadent restaurants have everything you could fancy in an authentic French feel. 

  1. L’Ami Jean C’est Ici – The best pomme purée!
  2. Restaurant Au Vieux Paris
  3. No Entry – One of the restaurants of the Big Mamma group, famous for its delicious pasta with truffles, hides a well-kept secret. Behind the cold room of Pink Mamma, hundreds of exotic liqueurs are stashed in the mysterious speakeasy, No Entry. The challenge is to find the entrance to the cold room without getting lost in the 750 square meters of the restaurant!
  4. Crêperie Des Pêcheurs
  5. Little Red Door – Located in the Marais, the Little Red Door – voted one of the 50 best bars in the world in 2017, is hidden behind a mysterious red door on rue Charlot. In this secluded speakeasy, the bartender Rêmy Savage dreamed up a menu of explosive cocktails in the same spirit as that of the Benevolence (Tequila, Martini Ambrato, carrot, ginger, and spices).

image by loiclagarde

Unlocked: Maryline Damour

We recently chatted with Circaphiles ambassador & inspiring designer


Damour Drake is a combination of Maryline Damour and Fred Drake, a duo that came together to offer their clients interior design and construction. Damour, after working for years in marketing, business development, and public relations, decided to return to school to study interior design at Parsons The New School for Design. Originally from Haiti, she has been actively involved in interior design projects held in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. Lately, she has been working on developing a vocational school in Léogâne, Haiti focused on teaching safer building techniques and practices for the construction industry.



1. What did you wish you knew when you started your design firm?

You should be obsessed with design if you have your own company because it is like having a child (no real-time off). Luckily, I am!

2. Was there something unexpected that you learned from your team along the

Everyone can contribute. We make time for our junior designers to present their drawings. In this way, they get to share their thought process and we all learn from these various perspectives.



3. If there is one piece of advice you would give a design student, what would it

Curiosity is key. It allows you to be more creative and, ultimately, more successful.

4. When a client asks for a resource, how do you answer them?

We are in the business of connecting clients to designers; designers to makers; etc…  Our respective disciplines in concert (and in collaboration) enrich the language of design.



5. How have you directly reached out to a potential new client?

I developed the first design showhouse in the Hudson Valley to connect professionals in the design/build industry across region, but also to show potential clients the power of thoughtful design integrated into an environment.

photography: phil mansfield design: damour drake

Uncovering Treasures: For the Holiday Season

photography  @hectormsanchezphoto; styling: @buffyhargettflowers & @ellyposton; location: @zerogeorgest

Every year, I am elated to revisit my hometown of New Orleans to visit friends and family. The rich culture and collection of beautiful shops are both nostalgic and a wonderful reminder of the approaching holiday season. Today I am sharing with you some of my favorite finds from around the world for curating a festive home and a few gift ideas to dazzle your friends and family.  

xo Genevieve

Genevieve’s Favorite Holiday Decor Finds

Holiday Decor

image: bvizdesign; image: ; image: rw guild

Stockings by B. Viz Design:  Update your holiday stockings with these gorgeous patterns. A set of elegant, yet classy mini stocking ornaments for your tree will up your Christmas decor game a notch or two. 


Scandinavian Christmas Tree:  No Christmas is complete without a tree, and I am loving this Scandinavia take on such a traditional piece of the holiday spirit. Impress your guests with something unique this season! 


Beautiful Candlesticks: Candles will forever make a cold evening feel warm and cozy. There is simply nothing like relaxing with a good set of candles by your side. 

Genevieve’s Favorite Holiday Gift Finds

Antoinette Poisson Notebooks: Does your friend or family love to doodle or journal? These gorgeous notebooks are perfect for any avid notetaker or sketch artist and make for a great desk piece. 

Emma Taylor Books: Beautifully unique, these book sculptures by Emma Taylor are like nothing I have ever seen before, perfect for your favorite bookworm displayed in a library, modern or traditional. 

Matchstick Bottles: Organization is key in my home and these bottles make it easier than ever.

Watercolor Notecards: Give your loved ones stationery modeled after garden vignettes from Architectural Watercolors- who have a wonderful variety of “architecturally sound” monogrammed notecards (and sublime!