Designer Crush Q&A: Gi Paoletti

Thanks so much to the avid traveler (Gi responded these questions from Italy!) for taking to time to answer our Designer Crush Q&A.

1. Where do you currently live in CA and what's special about how you've designed your personal space?

I live in San Francisco near the water and I'd have it no other way, although I would love to try a new neighborhood here every two years. This city is so diverse and interesting. In my own space I've used every "trick of the trade" I know to make it seem bigger and brighter than it is, including enlisting the knowledge of the AV people I know so that I can hide all of my components. When you walk into my living room you only see the flat screen TV on the wall and some speakers - I love remote jumpers that send signals through walls.

2. What's your dream design project? Who would it be for (dead or alive)? 

Well, I already designed an elevated helicopter port for Blackhawk helicopters, so now I would like to design a yacht interior. I love the challenge of trying new things and learning along the way. Whomever has a large yacht, likes my style, and wants to take a chance on me is who I would want to do if for! 

3. In real life, what's your favorite design project you've completed to date?

I am really proud of a lot of the work I've done and there are a few projects that are near and dear to my heart. I worked on the Sybase Headquarters in Dublin and it was the first local project I did so my parents could go to see it. That was a cool moment. I've also worked in Australia and South Korea and there is something magical about leaving a valuable piece of yourself behind for others to enjoy. Don't get me wrong though, I also love each and every restaurant and bar I've designed because my friends and family get to enjoy them. My clients are fantastic people and I love to be able to walk up the street to see a place I've designed packed with customers.

4. You've been gifted a fabulously furnished dream home but can only bring one item from your current space. What would it be? 

I've been saving up for one of those gorgeous suspended egg chairs so that is what I would bring. I'd hang it in the center of the space and enjoy 360 degrees of that dream house of mine.

5. What's your creative process when designing a space?

I am very collaborative with my clients so initially I spend time absorbing what they envision then I think about it, build upon it, add my own ideas and sketch things out, however; I come up with my best design ideas and solve all of my design challenges around 3:00 to 5:00 in the morning after my subconscious has done all of the work.

6. Where do you score prized interior design items? Any shopping tips?

I am a big believer in using local and very talented craftsmen. I rarely specify a ready made table for example. I think designing a piece and having it made gives you a better product at a better price and let's face it; it keeps our local economy strong. I happen to be in Italy now, and whenever I am here I visit showrooms and manufacturers to see what is happening and see if there is anything I can source. I visited the Tarpac showroom and was blown away by the amazing detailing and quality of their cabinetry - they are doing a lot of work in Russia and China. It is very important to see what is happening design-wise around the world; you limit yourself if you live in a bubble.

7. Ever had an epic DIY disaster? What project would you never take on again yourself?

I am incredibly lucky to have a father who is one of those talented craftsmen I love to count on. He grew up in Italy making extraordinary cabinetry before moving to the States, so when I have DIY ideas he takes over the construction. If it weren't for that, I would probably have an amazing disaster story for you - I tend to think I am more capable than I am. You should see how frightened people get when they see me using kitchen knives at my dinner parties!

8. What new design trend are you excited to integrate into your next project?

I am always looking for new ideas to integrate into my projects and I love to use things in ways they weren't intended. I can't say there is any one trend I am excited about right now, however; I am ready to move away from the concrete, brick and wood combination we have all seen so much of over the last couple of years. I would rather everyone be surprised to see what I come up with next.

9. Lightning round! 

Beach or mountains? 


Twitter or Facebook? 


Architectural Digest or Wallpaper? 


Should you spend money on a fabulous bathroom or kitchen? 


Would you rather shop new or vintage? 


Great view or perfect pool? 

Great view (which tend to always include water by the way).

SF or LA? 

San Francisco.

10. What's one tip you wish someone had told you when first starting out in the design world?

If there's a specific type of design you want to do then pursue that from the beginning, otherwise your road there could be a long one. Sometimes when you are fresh out of college you are happy just to get a job in your industry, but if you want to design restaurants for example you shouldn't take a job with a firm that designs houses. 

Want More Gi Paoletti? 

Gi Paoletti Design Labs