Lauren Geremia is a San Francisco interior designer to watch. Her firm, Geremia Design, is known for sculptural light fixtures, custom furniture and bold installations. Like our own company founder, Lauren started out in the fine arts and found a way to apply her talents in the commercial realm. She brings a creative approach to everything from tech offices to wine country residences, always adding intimacy and personality to the space.
Read our newest Q&A to find out how Lauren works with clients, why we need to rethink contemporary design, and how to bring a sense of art to residential remodels.
Jeff King & Company: You started out as a painter at Rhode Island School of Design – so how did you get involved in interior design?
Lauren Geremia: After college I moved to SF and went right into assisting a designer. Soon I was making selections and bringing in friends for fabrication and furniture making. The work encompassed many skills and interests of mine – having an art education is completely invaluable to what I do now.
Are you still involved in the art world?
For me, artists have always been the most interesting people in the room. I knew early on I wanted to be part of that community, and I love to collect art and connect artists to my clientele.
In contrast to someone with traditional training, how do you approach design decisions?
We always start with a narrative. It’s all about finding an interesting idea. We love artwork, and the pieces we source are definitely a focus. Whether it’s furniture or lighting, I’m drawn to functional pieces doubling as artwork. We look at rooms with a compositional eye and think about how we can layer textures and unexpected materials.
As a San Francisco interior designer, what would say is your main focus?
We’re always changing focus, always moving. I’m constantly excited about educating ourselves in one area of design – one morning I wake up and all I think about is fabric. Some days I don’t want to do anything but go to galleries. I like it all.
You often talk about bringing intimacy into a room. What does intimacy mean to you and why do we need more of it?
I want to bring more warmth and personality to modern design. In a world where people are ordering groceries online and cabs from smartphone apps, it’s nice to have handmade objects and eclectic pieces that someone took the time to make. Elements of soul, pieces from a different time, references of a little more substance. We like to add connections and history.
When we worked together on the Historic Live/Work Loft, you brought in several custom furniture pieces. Why not buy readymade furniture?
Custom furniture shows the client we’re listening. It guarantees something that’s never been seen before. There are holes in the marketplace – I could spend 10 hours shopping for an ash wood dining table to match my client’s vintage chairs. Or I can design it in couple hours and have a trusted artist make it beautifully. That’s worth it.
You’ve gotten a lot of attention for designing the Dropbox and Instagram offices, among others. How does this cross over to designing home offices?
We like spaces to feel flexible and intimate. People at work want to feel comfortable, and people at home want to feel inspired. For a workspace at home, we look at layout, furniture placement and collaboration potential. Whether it’s an office or home, we like to create vignettes for conversation and ideation.
For someone with such a bold style, how do you balance creative vision with client needs?
People come to us to solve problems. We enjoy having new ones. I’m not a designer who’s going to do something I’m not good at – though I love to be stretched in different ways. For example, how am I going to incorporate this grandfather clock that’s been in the family for years?
What’s your best advice to homeowners embarking on the interior design process?
Having great chemistry with your designer is really important. This person will be putting all of their creativity, resources and time into your home. Remember that no one can read minds: it’s important to communicate what you don’t like. Creating homes is very personal and you want to feel like you can express ideas comfortably. A platform to share common language is also useful, like magazines.
You’ve done everything from wine country homes and city apartments to restaurants and tech offices. Do you have an ideal client?
I’m someone who likes to be overwhelmed with different personalities and information. Our favorite homeowners communicate well and are excited about our ideas – they support us as artists. Flexibility, adventure and gratitude help. Ultimately I never want to produce something my client doesn’t love.
Your business is growing fast. What’s next for Geremia Design?
I want to keep the same momentum – to keep growing as a designer, entrepreneur and boss. I’d love to get into retail and partner with an interesting fashion brand. We’re on a mission to find a boutique hotel project – SF could use a good hotel. All of my current projects are amazing. Every six months I say the same thing: this is the best project I’ve ever had.
For more San Francisco interior designers and architects we love, click here.