Iria degen roomers
| Interviews, Lifestyle,

The Real Secret In Top Interior Design

Beatrice Lessi

Have you ever wondered how the offices of a private bank in Switzerland, where the real rich need to be impressed,  look like? And could you imagine who is behind their design? Finally, how can the same person design a super sexy lingerie shop in Zurich, Risquéand make them both so fresh and perfectly in line with their owners?

Don’t be fooled by appearances, says the woman behind it all, Iria Degen. It could be the same client!

And indeed, after more than 200 projects ranging from luxury hotels all over the world to a brand new online shop, theroomers.comIria knows a thing or two about clients, perfect proportions, nuances and interior design. I met her and was determined to understand the main secret of it all – and I think I got it!

Here is my talk to her.

Beatrice: You studied law and ended up as an incredibly successful interior designer. How did that happen?

Iria: I moved to Paris after finishing my law studies because of love. I enjoyed law and especially the case studies, where role playing allows you to see things from different people’s points of view, and to actually think on behalf of others. But I also knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer, so I did an internship and got incredibly lucky: I could work with star interior designer Andrée Putman. As soon as I walked in there I thought: this is where I belong. It’s something that you feel. It’s like coming home. I just knew it was right! All I needed, after that, was convincing my whole family and everybody else (laughs).

Beatrice: So you would encourage people to dare and change their life?

Iria: I receive a lot of messages and emails asking for suggestions in this sense – people read my story and ask for tips. I try to be careful because it’s a big responsibility, and I was also very lucky. However, changes are possible, and normally I suggest people to set themselves a time, do a trial and see – they can always go back. My story is a bit of a fairytale, I never had a business plan and was always open to opportunities. I found my talent, and luck.

Beatrice: You first restaurant, Jasper in Lucern, was a turning point in your career. How did you get that job?

Iria: I had a meeting with the board of directors of the hotel and they asked me: “how do you know you can make a restaurant? You never made one”. I answered that I had done houses for the type of clients they wished to receive in their hotel, so I believed I knew which restaurant they’d like to go to. I always start from the point of view of the typical customer – remember the case studies? I learnt to put myself in someone else’s shoes by studying law!

bea-iria-risque'

Risqué Lingerie and The Roomers jewellery boxes: I would buy everything here!

Beatrice: and do you feel intimidated when they ask you to design an important office, or a private bank?

Iria: Not at all. The approach is the same: who is the user? Who is the client, who is he addressing? The starting point is the same, but then every project is different and that’s the beauty of it all. I never do a copy paste, I only put myself in the user’s position. I also have a team with me, to help and discuss, so I have no unanswered questions.

Beatrice: What would you suggest to people to achieve a timeless style in their homes, so they never get bored and don’t throw money away when they choose their decor?

Iria: To pay attention to everything built-in (floors, cupboards, kitchen and bathroom), as this has to last long, so here you shouldn’t copy the momentary fashion, but choose a style that really reflects you. Then you can play with textiles and colours to change your house more often: you can paint a wall in two hours, change curtains or pillows every two years, and change or rotate vases or objects every week! Have fun, you can do this with a very little investment, so even being eccentric or flashy is allowed. My second company, The Roomers, was born to offer a wide range of objects like this table, these chairs, and these vases (she points at the vases you see in the photo). If you love some objects and have an emotional attachment to them, never throw them away. They are part of you. Be yourself.

bea iria

Don’t throw away what has an emotional meaning to you – top decor is something that reflects you

Beatrice: you also consult people on the website, can they simply send you a photo and ask for suggestions?

Iria: yes, we are starting this service. We can propose you changes and objects, so you have a visual idea of what can be done with your space.

Beatrice: Do people have a problem in showing their homes?

Iria: Some do, maybe they feel intimidated and excuse themselves for the mess, for example. But I don’t mind and also never judge: a house is a reflection of a person, what’s the problem in being who you are? As I said, a house should be connected with you. If that happens, then it’s a success.

 

Beatrice: So the main secret of good interior design is…the person who will use it? 

Iria: It’s about the authenticity, the connection with the person. I also often say that, in my job, I need to be a psychologist, to understand what people really need and want. It’s the whole basis and starting point of my work.

Beatrice: My last question is about fashion. What is your “uniform”, something you wear all the time and you know you’ll feel good and comfortable in?

Iria: I love trousers, because I often need to carry stuff, reach ceilings, go down to the floor, move in a practical way. I also love layers and never go against the season: I feel the season and the colours. I love neutrals.. I guess I am oversensitive to colour; to me this grey (she points at her trousers) is already a colour, a powdery, soft colour.

Beatrice: Now I know why they call you ” a master of nuances”…like these boxes here in beige tones; can I have one?