1/15/2021 9:21:00 AM Decades in design; but year at helm of professional
association one to remember
EDITOR’S NOTE: If the year we just completed could be described in one sentence, it might be that it was all about change. Those of us who went outside of our comfort zone with open minds, just may have discovered in 2020 that change can be a great teacher.
Local interior designer Barbara Hafften, in this Q and A piece, talks about how her field of work is all about change. Being pro-active lets you control more than you may expect.
Hafften completed a term in 2020 as President of the American Society of Interior Designers. She and Bruce live in Chisago Lake Township, where they raised two sons and now enjoy a three-year-old granddaughter.
Can you tell us a little about how long you have been an interior designer and if you specialize in residential spaces or public/commercial interiors? I have practiced interior design for over 30 years. I have worked in furniture stores and with design firms at International Market Square. These work experiences helped me decide that I wanted to start my own business specializing in residential remodeling. I realized early in my career that relationships are everything. I have the best contractors, industry partners and clients that I can thank for the longevity of my business My office is based in Chisago Lakes but I work all over the Twin Cities area, western Wisconsin and occasionally on cabins in northern MN. The Minnesota chapter has 450 members, and you said Minnesota nominated you. Was there a vote, or a convention held virtually, for you to be selected? A committee of ASID past presidents and board members nominated me to be president. By volunteering on several committees, being a committee chairperson and a board member, this qualified me to be nominated. Then an election was held with a majority of the members voting for me.
What should people look for today when they seek the expertise of an interior designer. References of course, but how does someone know they have found a designer who shares their aesthetic likes and dislikes? As with any other professional, it’s important to check education, experience, associations of which they may be a member. (ASID or IIDA) By looking at their work on websites, Facebook, Instagram and having an interview with them will help to see if they can create the design style you might like. My advice when meeting with an interior designer is to have an open mind. There are many design influences, like design television or blogs, available to clients but an interior designer will give you guidance if a certain style is right for your home or lifestyle.
The year 2020 was not normal in so many ways. How did designers do their work? Could you still visit spaces in person, or did you use electronic images and Internet communications more than ever? As ASID President it was a very difficult year. ASID is a non-profit so our operating costs come from member events or speakers. Due to the coronavirus, we were unable to have in person events but we did hold our annual Design in Excellence Award Gala virtually. Networking is a main benefit to the members in our association.
As for individual designers we were busy! As designers we have been creating design work on our computers for years now. We just had to learn to Zoom, FaceTime, and other platforms to show our work to our clients virtually. I was able to keep working by being creative and safe. I gave presentations on decks or in driveways and only entered homes without clients or with everyone in masks. Some of my projects have been pushed out in hopes of 2021 having less Covid cases.
Is the bulk of what’s happening now with designing meant for new-build projects or are clients re-doing spaces? I don’t often work in the new build industry but the remodeling sector is busy.
We hear so much about stay-at- home covid-19 orders motivating people to do home improvement and remodels, are designers seeing this trending also? Yes, after spending more time in their home clients have decided to finally update an area that they have ignored now that they are looking at it all day! Many homeowners with open concept plans are now trying to figure out how to have a quiet zone or home offices.
How much of an influence does the practical, down to earth Midwest culture have on design? I’m thinking of recent popular touches like barn doors and wood floors and painted cabinets that are everywhere… It is true that geographic and cultures influence design but with social media there are design trends that develop from many regions. Minnesota has always embraced the rustic and outdoor look…it is our culture but you can thank Texas for the barndoor, shiplap influence. White cabinetry became popular here in the Midwest due to the lack of sunlight, it’s less expensive than putting in new larger windows.
Any elements from middle America that have become important to interior design that you might like to point out? You can ask any of my clients that I always say: “Modern but not trendy”.
Care to make a prediction? What will be the big design influence to take center stage the next couple of years? Wallpaper!! Going away from white or painted cabinetry…natural wood finishes. Clean less cluttered design, not as much rustic features e.g., shiplap, barn doors.
I had a great mentor who would say: “Interior design ideas aren’t new; they are just re-visited!”