Designer Crush: Annette Zavala and Billy Alexander of Scheiber Design Group

1. How did you two meet and become business partners?
Annette Zavala: We both worked for Daen Scheiber as assistant designers and gravitated to each other’s work style and aesthetics. There was a yin & yang element between us that produced great results. Daen saw that potential and eventually invited us into the partnership.
Billy Alexander: Annette and I were one of three teams that worked under Daen, the founder of Scheiber Design Group. We had been at the firm for over ten years and worked incredibly well together. The decision to become business partners happened organically between the three of us.
2. How has Daen Scheiber inspired and influenced your work and what’s your vision for the future of SDG?
AZ: Daen pushed me to look beyond trends and create unique design solutions for our clients. I always listen, but I also try to push the client beyond their comfort zone. “Pretty is fine for model homes,” Daen would always tell me. The future is so exciting—the old rules have gone out the window. We want our homes to express our personality while still being beautiful and functional. But despite all the new technology, I still value what hand-crafted furniture and artistry brings to a home.
BA: Daen instilled in me the importance of scale and attention to details. My vision for SDG is to continue to create eclectic, warm, personal spaces for all of our clients. We don’t just decorate a room with pretty things, but we design a retreat for clients to gather with friends and family and recharge.
3. What’s your method for really getting to know a client?
AZ: I always try to connect with clients on a personal level. For instance, we are animal lovers and it seems like most clients these days have pets that are cherished family members. We seem to always have a special relationship with them. We’ve even helped deliver puppies at a job site.
BA: The best way to spend time asking many questions about their lifestyle and aspirations for their home. Communication is the key to great design!
4. If you could design the set for any movie or play, which would you choose and why?
AZMamma Mia! Greece and the Greek Islands are one of my favorite places in the world.
BA: The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. I’m always mesmerized and inspired by his attention to detail. Every frame of this movie is a feast for the eyes!
5. Which musical album or artist has inspired you most and why?
AZ: Purple Rain and Prince. I was jolted out of my Northern California folk-rock world when I saw this movie. His passion, energy and style; he just mesmerized me.
BA: In Rainbows by Radiohead . I love this album more and more every time I listen to it. The music is so layered. I listen to from beginning to end, and–then hit repeat!
6. What’s been your most memorable professional experience?
AZ: Most of these I probably can’t share in print. Running my first solo commercial presentation in front of a group of VC investors, contractors and architects was one I’ll never forget. I think I went straight for a cocktail afterwards!
BA: My most memorable professional experience was with a client whose husband had passed away and she wasn’t sure where she wanted to live. I knew she would love Marin, so one day we drove form one end of the county to the other. One town in particular spoke to her, so we found her a great house and transformed it into her home. It was deeply rewarding experience. She has become a great friend of mine and a true inspiration.
7. Describe your ideal vacation.
AZ: At the moment, I’m obsessed with seeing the whales in the Sea of Cortez. Tent camping on a solitary beach…margaritas & fish tacos and I’m happy.
BA: My ideal vacation would be to spend an extended period of time in Iceland and then head to Hawaii to chill out on the beach.
8. Stripes or polka dots?
AZ: Stripes.
BA: Stripes.
9. Coffee or tea?
AZ: Tea. Yorkshire Gold from Taylors of Harrogate.
BA: Coffee.
10. Early bird or night owl?
AZ: Both, I tend to get about 6 hours a night.
BA: Early bird.
11. Beach or mountains?
AZ: Beach. I’m from Berkeley where you can see the water from most spots so seeing the ocean every day is a must for me.
BA: Beach.
12. Top 40 hits or throwback tracks?
AZ: That’s hard — I’m a music lover. I love discovering new artists; my music library is filled with everything from Dusty Springfield to Twenty One Pilots.
BA: Both (but slightly more to the throwbacks)!!!

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