Name: Kelli Richards
Company: Kelli Richards Designs
Position within company: Principal Designer
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
My background is in the fashion industry where I worked for 15 years as a model. Living abroad in many different cultures I feel had a profound effect on not only who I am but also my design aesthetic. I graduated from a Montreal Interior Design school in 2014. It was during this time at school that I worked as an intern with the firm Warren Garret. The brilliant husband and wife design duo showed me that in order to achieve great results in design, you have to be very hands on.
After graduating I started working on small projects on my own and eventually landed some larger full-service projects. It is very important for me that my team is involved in every aspect of our projects because I feel strongly that this is the only way to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end of the project.
How would you describe your personal design style?
I would describe my design style as modern and minimal with an air of sophistication.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
There are many things that inspire me. Studying the work of some of the greats always brings me immense inspiration. My idols include Conrad Architects, Joseph Dirand, Paul Badran, Christian Liaigre to name a few.
On top of learning from the best, I also find that my clients inspire me a lot. I come in with my own set of ideas of course but then, listening to their feedback and trying to understand them as people always leads the design. There are so many idiosyncrasies with each client. What colors are they attracted to, whether they are introverts or extroverts, how they live… all of this plays a huge role in my inspiration. Something they might love that I wouldn’t have considered necessarily suddenly I start to love as well because I see it as not just a pretty home but an extension of who they are.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?
I think design has gained more respect in recent years and I think as more focus is being placed on the home environment due to the current situation in the world, interior designers and architects are becoming even more sought out, respected and valued for the work that we do.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2020 and beyond.
- Do not follow too many trends – no one wants to constantly renovate/re-decorate their home. Most of our clients want to do it once and forget about it.
- Focus on quality finishes and fixtures – Now that people are spending less on travel, it is a wise decision to invest in quality pieces that will last a lifetime and not wear out quickly since the home is being used more heavily than before.
- A home office or working area(s) are an essential part of home design. This includes kids’ rooms. They all need to have their own private working area now more than ever.
- The use of durable easy to clean finishes and performance fabrics is huge. This is not only due to increased sanitary concerns but also the fact that more people have adopted pets during the pandemic as well
- Organic lines (curves) are very desirable lately as people are looking for pieces that make them feel a sense of calm and comfort so designs are becoming less rigid than before. This includes kitchen countertop edging as well as furniture.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
When it comes to designing a living environment, find a flow of shapes, colour tones and finishes that work together without competing with one another. It is ok to have contrast or one element that stands out more than others but not in a way that overwhelms the senses, more like a subtle sense of beauty and elegance wherever the eye is drawn.
How important are The International Design & Architecture Awards?
They are extremely important in order to draw attention to the extraordinary achievements of both interior design professionals and architects around the world.
We are beyond honoured to be included among the most talented and amazing firms in the world!
What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently completing a 5,000 sq.ft home renovation of 70 year old home located in Westmount, Montreal. The project features a lot of custom millwork in each of the 3 young girls’ bedrooms plus an office as well as a mix of custom and designer furniture imported from around the Globe.
We also just started another renovation and furniture project in the West end of the city, where we are gutting a 20-year-old home and re-designing all the interior elements, including the furniture.
What was your favourite project to work on and why?
Our current project in Westmount which is almost complete because it is so much fun designing little girls’ rooms and seeing their reaction. They get excited and are thrilled to be a part of the design process as well. We loved customizing each room to the girls’ individual personalities.
We also find it such a joy and privilege to work on an older home and although our design style gears towards minimal design, we love adding wall mouldings in homes of this age and then mixing modern furniture with the classical architecture which is a very Perisian/ Haussmann thing to do and we find our clients in Montreal love it as well.
What was your most challenging project to work on and why?
It is always more challenging to work in condos because of the logistics of it all. For example, we might have 15 to 20 different installations for one project and each one requires a one week advance notice to schedule the elevator with the building management. Often, we will schedule a supplier that changes our install at the last minute and then it is a whole other process of emails just to get another date with the building. That in itself can become a full-time job, so this is quite challenging indeed.
Then there are things like neighbour complaints because of noise if we are doing a renovation so there are a lot of people pleasing activities involved like the buying of gifts to smooth things over so that our clients do not move into a hostile neighbour situation.
On top of that, when working in condos you have to be 100% sure that what you order is going to fit in the elevator. Sometimes, we forget things like curtain rod lengths and the poor installer has to walk up 30 or 40 flights to get it in the unit.
All of the above applies to all condo projects we have done so far, so although the end results can be rewarding, condo projects are definitely the most challenging of all projects.
Which products/services could you not live without when designing?
The service of my team for sure. They are the best and I could not function without them. Maria Georgalos who is our lead designer really is an extension of my brain. We think essentially the same way so it really helps having someone I know will make the same decisions I would, and it frees me up to focus on the bigger picture. Robby (my husband) deals with all of the financials and Marissa Tremblay (our newest team member) is great at organization and technical details.
I also see all of my trades and suppliers as an extension of my team and could definitely not live without them either. Everyone has their own unique talent and strength. It really does take a village to pull off interior design projects.
What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
We are actually in the process of opening our first furniture showroom in Montreal. This is scheduled to open in Spring 2021. We will be showcasing many Danish brands and a couple of Italian brands. We started with the online store across Canada but we feel it is the right time to move into a creative space where we can showcase the pieces we love. At the same time we will move our design office to the back of the store so we can invite clients into our showroom/office.
In addition to the new showroom/office, our goal as a design firm is always to find our next amazing client/project. We do not believe in taking on too many clients, its more about finding that right fit and doing work that we love and that brings us joy.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself and your daily inspirations:
Your most treasured possession? My 2 Italian Greyhounds Ella and Mia
Your favourite holiday destination? Italy
Your favourite hotel, restaurant & bar? Hotel: TRS (Riviera Maya), Restaurant: Barabouf (Beloeil, Quebec), Bar: Arno Rooftop Bar, (Florence)
Your favourite book, film & song? Book: ”The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Shwartz, Film: Under the Tuscan Sun, Song: “Finally”, by Kings of Tomorrow
Your favourite food and drink? East Indian food and wine
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? Brunch and Spa with a friend
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be? Motivational Speaker or Spiritual Leader
Anything else interesting? Most of our team members are introverts. We are all serial perfectionists, so each project takes an enormous amount of time and energy because we obsess over every detail. We tend to attract clients with similar characteristics as us which is great because they get our obsessive behaviour and understand us.
Kelli Richards Designs have been shortlisted for Cityspace – Global Award in The International Design and Architecture Awards 2021.
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