Designer Crush: Joanna ParolAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
1. How did growing up in Poland influence your perspective on design?
I grew up during communism, and the stores did not have any unique clothes. So I began picking out my own fabrics, designing my own clothes, and having them made.
I also grew up in a small apartment. From the outside, it looked like the typical communist tract building. So we spent a lot of energy designing our interiors. Every inch of space had to be thought out – not just to enhance the mood and atmosphere but to also provide functionality. This trained me from an early age to combine form and function. Fortunately, my parents loved mid-century modern furniture, which fit our needs then and continues to influence my aesthetic today.
2. You were discovered by a modeling scout and spent years traveling throughout Europe – how did that experience shape your view on style and culture?
The fashion world served as a “finishing school”. I worked with some of the most influential designers, stylists, photographers, and magazines of that time – while visiting the most beautiful cities in the world. This introduced me to a vast symphony of style, which developed and fine-tuned my own aesthetic. I learned that details matter, and that the simple choice is often the chicest.
3. Why the transition from fashion to interior design?
As I travelled the world, my living surroundings constantly changed. This made me realize how much my environment, and which aspects of that environment, influenced my mood and energy. I wanted to dig deeper into this fascinating world, and I enrolled in design school. The transition worked seamlessly. It allowed me to continue to nurture my creativity, while also rekindling my analytical side.
4. How do you define your personal sense of style, and what differentiates you from your competitors?
With fashion or interior design, I opt for modern, sophisticated elements. I layer those elements with well-planned details, lighting, accessories, and art to bring out personality and create a unique look.
Many influences in my life combined to create this philosophy. I grew up in a very analytical family — my mother is a CPA and my father and brother are engineers. This, combined with my years in fashion, gave me a unique mix of analytical and creative influences that I bring to my projects, from concept through construction.
5. What’s your process for getting to know a client?
I want to gain a deep understanding of my clients and what makes them tick. I start by interviewing the family members separately and together. Besides obvious questions such as favorite colors and patterns, I learn their favorite spot in the house, where they spend their time, how they entertain, and how they live on a daily basis. Other information often helps even more, such as where they like to travel, favorite restaurants, hobbies, favorite clothing designers, etc. I like to spend a day “shopping” and exploring without buying anything or looking for anything in particular. Also, casual lunches or coffee dates – without the stress of reviewing plans, fabrics, or budgets – can be invaluable.
6. What does “California style” mean to you?
Laid back, relaxed, and effortlessly cool, while seamlessly blending indoor and outdoor living.
7. Who is your dream client, and what kind of home would you love to create for them?
Someone who is passionate about their home, has an opinion, and has a vision, but will also trust me to take that vision to the next level. A client recently told me that seeing her home after final installation was the second-best day of her life (the best was the day her husband proposed to her). I strive to create homes that evoke similar emotions in all my clients.
8. You’ve traveled all over the world – what’s your favorite city and why?
Hong Kong. I love the synergy between East and West, which creates a uniquely cosmopolitan culture. Not to mention the shopping 😉
9. Favorite breakfast?
10. First celebrity crush?
11. Favorite song of all time?
“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.
12. Dream vacation destination?
13. Best friend?
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