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New York designer brings flare, color, inspiration to campus

April 30th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Heidi Hansen

LOGAN—USU Interior Design students may think they’re good at what they do now, but according to a visiting designer who addressed students at the Performance Hall Wednesday afternoon, they are only going to get better.

“You can make it as interesting as you want,” said Ghislaine Vinas, a New York City-based designer invited to speak as part of the Interior Design program’s annual visiting designer series. “You’ll look back at your stuff and see that you’ve grown.”

In the morning, Vinas spent time looking over USU design student projects before delivering her speech, “Ten Years and Counting: What I’ve Learned along the Way.” She offered students contemporary decorating tips and career advice while displaying photos from her portfolio.

“It was so refreshing,” said sophomore internior design major Brooklin Hubbard. “It was like a breath of fresh air.” It was nice to see a professional who’s not afraid to have fun with design, Hubbard said.

Vinas’ design style is contemporary, with touches of traditional elements. She uses a lot of vibrant colors and black or white neutrals, and loves to play with scale, volume and interesting shapes.

Abby Savage, a graduating senior in interior design, interned for Vinas last summer. She says the New Yorker is “driven by form and color.” As a kid, Savage said, Vinas would “feel a rush of excitement opening a box of crayons.”

Freshman Ashley Spainhower enjoyed Vinas’ use of bright colors and the unique, random objects Vinas designed around. “It was very entertaining and inspiring,” she said. “I felt her passion for it.”

Vinas, who is originally from the Netherlands, said she tries not to take herself too seriously when designing. The display photos pictured imaginative design. There was a room designed around gnomes, a small powder room painted with hot pink shellac, dining room chairs with pictures of a family’s favorite food on the seats, and Elvis Presley curtains.

“I relish in finding the ugliest object to use,” Vinas said, explaining some of the odd accessories in her designs, like a bright purple chandelier and a yellow plate with cherubs on it. “Pulling things from unusual places makes you think harder, that’s when I’m feeling my best as a designer.”

“Then we really start thinking out of the box,” Vinas said. “We ask, how can we have fun, how can we collaborate with other artists?”

Vinas opened her design company in 1999 and has since done commercial and residential projects internationally. She’s been published in several magazines, including New York Magazine and Interior Design magazine, and has won several awards over the years.

This acclaim has allowed her to be selective about her clients, but Vinas’ advice is that every designer should make sure they’re a good fit with a client.

“To work with me, you have to love it,” Vinas said. “The only way it will work is if you’re as excited about it as me.” She said she asks potential clients if they love the design examples on her website. if they don’t truly love them, she can’t work with them.

“Everybody wants that project where you can do whatever you want,” Vinas said. “I got this project and it was not that great. You want to collaborate with the client; it pushes you to do something great.”


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