Name: Laura Umansky
Company: Laura U Interior Design
Position within company: President and Creative Director
1. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
a. I have been drawn to the creative arts since childhood. In my elementary years, I swapped coloring books for sketch pads, drew floor plans and rearranged furniture in my family home. I went on to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin and cultivate a continued passion for photography. I honed my technical skills further by earning a Master’s degree in Architecture at the University of Houston. Post-grad, I joined a resort design group, where I gained specialized experience designing luxury vacation homes. In 2006, I marked a personal milestone when I launched my own interior design firm. This year, we celebrate our 10 year anniversary!
2. How would you describe your personal interior design style?
a. Classically Current© describes the luxurious livability I incorporate into all of my interiors – spaces that are grand, but also grounded. It is the careful balance of a playful and whimsical aesthetic that is also sophisticated and refined. My designs – which ultimately represent a unique collaboration with each client – create well-tailored, inviting environments that are, above all, unforgettable.
3. Where does your design inspiration come from?
a. My inspiration is very much influenced by my travels, my continued interest in architecture and photography, and my individual clients! Each design is very much inspired by finding unique ways to find exactly what my client needs from a space.
4. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
Bench made, singular, and artisanal items are in the forefront. I feel luxury design is moving toward more hand-made, finely crafted items, from large scale architecture to the smallest accessory. I also see a resurgence in expertly detailed yet smaller homes. These will replace the colossal homes devoid of true character that have sprung up in the United States since the 1980s.
5. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2016 and beyond.
Sustainability, finely crafted, luxury materials, thoughtfully planned, and heirloom quality.
6. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
a. Invest in heirloom quality pieces that you truly love. Never purchase something disposable. Look for timelessness in design and longevity in material.
7. How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
a. It is an honor to be nominated to the International Design and Architecture Awards this year. ID&A is one of the few organizations that recognizes architects, artists and designers from myriad countries and cultures to celebrate the very best and most innovative designs.
8. What projects are you currently working on?
A riverside residence in Aspen, Colorado. A pied-a-terre at the Plaza in New York, New York. Several luxury high rise residences in Houston, TX.
9. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
This year and beyond I plan to continue creating innovative interiors and build a stronger, more vibrant firm. Our focus is on the betterment of our community, treating our environment in a respectful way, and designing each interior as a singular expression of our client’s lifestyle.
10. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession? My collection of vintage engravings of marsupials.
Your favourite holiday destination? Grand Cayman Island or Pienza, Italy
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar? Surrey Hotel in New York, NY. Oxheart in Houston, TX.
Your favourite book / film / song? On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Aganju by Bebel Gilberto
Your favourite food and drink? Tonnarelli a Cacio e Pepe from Maialino in NYC. Wine of all kinds.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? (in no more than 25 words). Gardening with my twin daughters. They are laughing because I am spraying them with the garden hose, all while listening to bossa nova and drinking a cool rose.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? A design writer.