trade tales | Dec 15, 2023 |
What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?

The end of the year is approaching, so we asked 11 designers—Francesca Albertazzi, Timothy Corrigan, Bianca Ecklund, Gillian Gillies, Chris Goddard, Jacob Laws, Andi Morse, Lori Paranjape, Vy Truong, Christine Vroom and Nadia Watts—to reflect on their 2023 highs and lows.

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Timothy CorriganCourtesy of Timothy Corrigan

Record Breaking
“One regret that I have is taking on a seemingly enticing new client project that my gut told me was going to be problematic. I knew that the client had already gone through another designer for the project, and after our first meeting, a number of red flags were waving. Against my better judgment, we continued meeting and presenting options. The lack of respect the client showed toward his spouse, our senior designer and me proved to be too much. I respectfully severed the relationship. The emotional toll it took on my employee was not worth any amount of money or prestige the project could bring. It was a solid reminder of the importance of listening to your inner warnings whenever you are considering taking on a new client. We always think that we will be able to manage a problem client better than someone else did, but all too often, that difficult client will be just as problematic for you! One of our firm’s biggest achievements was completing our room at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York in a record nine weeks. It was a great team effort between our designers and suppliers, proving that with hard work and ingenuity, anything is possible.” Timothy Corrigan, Timothy Corrigan Inc., Los Angeles and Paris

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Nadia WattsCourtesy of Nadia Watts

Print Recognition
“One business regret is not having enough time to do it all. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head, and I am fortunate to be surrounded by amazingly creative people. It can be hard to distinguish what a great business opportunity is versus what would [simply] be fun—and I just want to do it all. I designed a fabric line with Kravet, and it was an amazing experience that has now made me want to design all things: wallpaper, trim, furniture and even fashion (purses, to be specific). While I still plan to do all of those, I am working on prioritizing, and my client work always comes first. My most visible achievement this year was being featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal’s Mansion section. It was such a treat to be recognized not only for my design but for the relationships that are built through the design process. I am very proud to be a part of the design community, and I cherish every moment I get to be submerged in the creative process.” Nadia Watts, Nadia Watts Interior Design, Denver

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Jacob LawsCourtesy of Jacob Laws

It’s an Honor
“Honestly, [my biggest regret was] comparing our business to other comparable designers’ firms and business models. However, in talking to my colleagues and peers—at least the ones who have been candid—I heard that sometimes having a formula for the operational end of things isn’t always realistic. When disasters happen, you clean it up and get back to work. I am proud that even though we scaled back while we moved our firm to Charleston [from St. Louis] and took time to get settled, we did consciously plan ahead so that there was still momentum—and momentum doesn’t necessarily mean standing in the middle of a job site. But my greatest achievement this year is a tie between being added to the 1stDibs 50 list and having our work published over 10 pages as the only American interior design firm featured in I Work @ Home, an international design book by Barcelona publisher Booq/Loft.” Jacob Laws, Jacob Laws Interior Design, Charleston, South Carolina

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Gillian GilliesCourtesy of Gillian Gillies

Eye on the Prize
“Staying focused on what I can control was one of my goals at the start of 2023. So often, we can get sucked into a vortex resulting from negative energy or predictions from others. This year, I made a conscious effort to stay in my lane and focus on what we do, what we excel at. It has made a huge difference to my day-to-day, both professionally and personally.” Gillian Gillies, Gillian Gillies Interiors, Toronto

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Chris GoddardCourtesy of Chris Goddard

Finding Balance
“This was one of the busiest years we have had in both residential and commercial work, and having too much work can be both a blessing and a curse. Pouring creativity and time into each project has left me with a whirlwind year of travel and beautiful projects but zero time for myself to recharge or connect with friends and colleagues. Going into the new year, my main goal is striving for a better work-life balance and giving myself some time to enjoy where I am and where I am going professionally. The highlights of the year would be all the beautiful installations and happy clients.” Chris Goddard, Goddard Design Group, Springdale, Arkansas

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Bianca EcklundCourtesy of Bianca Ecklund

New Beginnings
“We kicked off the year by opening a new studio in Hermosa Beach, which has allowed us to be far more efficient in our day-to-day business. We focused on our relationships with wholesale vendors, and we just launched an e-commerce website where consumers can shop a curated collection of home decor to accomplish a ‘“designer look’” in their very own home. It was a busy year filled with growth, and our team is looking forward to continuing our upward momentum in 2024!” —Bianca Ecklund, Bianca Ecklund Design, Hermosa Beach, California

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Lori ParanjapeCourtesy of Lori Paranjape

Hard Lessons
“Professionally, 2023 has been very rewarding. I moved into a home I designed, and I partnered with Luxe magazine for a rollout that was pretty incredible. I work really hard to lead with gratitude, so it’s hard to say what I regret about 2023. I can say I regret not keeping my client agreement contract up to date, and it took a hard lesson this year to motivate me to do it. Now that it’s done, I’m grateful, even though learning the lesson was difficult. So, cheers to 2024—and iron-clad contracts!” Lori Paranjape, Mrs. Paranjape Design + Interiors, Nashville

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Andi MorseCourtesy of Andi Morse

Fresh Organization
“My biggest achievement of the year was establishing new processes. They have enabled me to run my business in a more streamlined, efficient way, while offering clients additional security. Bringing on my chief operating officer was integral in this achievement. My biggest regret is not hiring her sooner!” —Andi Morse, Morse Design, Atlanta

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Vy TruongCourtesy of Vy Truong

Bigger and Better
“As a boutique-sized interior architecture firm, our portfolio grew exponentially this past year. We completed and saw the openings of five restaurants and commercial projects and three beautiful residential homes, and we’re already welcoming larger, design-focused projects on board for the new year. We’ve grown so much as a firm, it’s been incredible to experience!” —Vy Truong, Very Handsome Studio, Houston

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Christine VroomCourtesy of Christine Vroom

Mental Health Is Wealth
“One business regret I have is taking on a project that didn’t fit my goals. I took it based on income at the time rather than determining whether it fit my company model and processes. It wasn’t a completely negative experience, but it did bring me so much unneeded stress that could have been unavoidable. My biggest achievement was moving offices to an area and space I love and feel so happy in, and being able to share my personal story and talk about mental health on podcasts and through trade outlets like Business of Home.” Christine Vroom, Christine Vroom Interiors, Palos Verdes Estates, California

What are your 2023 achievements and regrets?
Francesca AlbertazziCourtesy of Francesca Albertazzi

Unforgettable Partnerships
“My biggest regret is not always standing firm in my role as a designer. As much as the process is about working for the clients, it is also about educating them on what we designers are here to do. Our clients hire us for our expertise and design credibility, so we shouldn’t be shy about being defenders of the design vision! My biggest achievement was a professional collaboration between my studio and a local vendor (Gild & Co.) in designing spaces for a client who loves all the things we do: antiques, European design influence, natural materials, layers and color. It’s a project built on admiration, trust, respect and encouragement for each other, which makes space for creativity. It’s a project where we are allowed to play, and it’s through this play that we are creating individualistic design, which can feel magical for both the designer and the client.” —Francesca Albertazzi, Studio Albertazzi, Vancouver

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