trade tales | Oct 8, 2021 |
How did you know you wanted to be a designer?

Whether you fell into a career as a designer or dreamed of becoming one from a tender age, no two paths are the same. We asked five designers—Betty Brandolino, Lindye Galloway, Glenn Gissler, Jessica Lagrange and Susan Spath—how they decided to become interior designers.

Jessica Lagrange
Jessica LagrangeCourtesy of Jessica Lagrange

Helping hand
“As most designers say, I didn’t intend to go into the residential interior design industry! I focused my career path in the direction of commercial architecture early in my studies, starting my professional career working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, until one day, the wife of a good friend asked if I would help her with a minor drapery project—and the rest is history! The bond I developed with the client on that project drew me in, and I started to take on more and more side jobs with friends and social acquaintances. After just a few projects, I knew this was the industry for me. Residential interior design allows us to build a truly unique, very intimate relationship with our clients. These connections, coupled with my passion for sophisticated, luxurious design, have led to what my firm is today, more than 20 years later. What I love most of all is that it doesn’t even feel like work!” Jessica Lagrange, Jessica Lagrange Interiors, Chicago

Betty Brandolino
Betty BrandolinoCourtesy of Betty Brandolino

A head for business
“I zigzagged, as many of us do. I’ve always been interested in architecture and design, but I didn’t know that I would be in the business until I designed my own home. That project helped me discover that I wanted to turn that passion into a career. My background is in business, and I’ve learned that to be a successful designer, you have to be more than just a creative mind. I blended my business background with my creativity to ultimately create my design firm.” Betty Brandolino, Fresh Twist Studio, Elmhurst, Illinois

Glenn Gissler
Glenn GisslerCourtesy of Glenn Gissler

Start them young
“In the eighth grade, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up—a sly way of getting kids to consider their educational path. I said I wanted to be an interior designer. I only knew of one person who did interior design growing up—a friend of my mother’s who remains in my life even today. She lives outside the box and was an inspiration on the way to live life, kind of like Jo Ann Worley from Laugh-In meets Auntie Mame. By eighth grade, I had already become very aware of my creative instincts and impulses, and interior design seemed to be a career path that I imagined to be a low-key creative life, where you could make a living. I spent a long time in college, seven wonderful years, ultimately getting a degree in architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design in order to become an interior designer. The creative opportunities and my insatiable curiosity drew me to the creative professional life I have had for many decades.” Glenn Gissler, Glenn Gissler Design, New York

Susan Spath
Susan SpathCourtesy of Susan Spath

Opportunity Knocks “Growing up, I always had a passion for design. After school, I was managing a restaurant next door to a furniture store. The owner of the furniture store offered me a position as manager, so I decided to take it and see where it took me. I started to teach myself all things interior design. I later bought the business and turned it into a full-service interior design firm and luxury furniture showroom.” —Susan Spath, Kern & Co., Solana Beach, California

Lindye Galloway
Lindye GallowayCourtesy of Lindye Galloway

Falling into place
“I always had a creative side, and in a lot of ways, I fell into this profession, as everything happened organically. My husband and I bought our second home, which was a big fixer-upper. I designed it, and through that process, I had the opportunity to figure out the business. Upon completion, I put photos of my home online, and, as I had a small following there, the promotion of my own home attracted clients in the high-end market. From there, I built a business working in the field and provided design services along with building up a talented team.” —Lindye Galloway, Lindye Galloway Studio, Irvine, California

Homepage photo: A kitchen by Fresh Twist Studio | Photo by Margaret Rajic

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