Newport Beach-based interior designer Erica Bryen of Erica Bryen Design draws creativity from her extensive travels, historical influences, and her love of fashion. She has a knack for combining styles, designing custom furniture, and creating spaces that are exclusive and one-of-a-kind. You can see some of her impressive projects here. We caught up with Erica Bryen to find out more about what it takes to be an interior designer, where she finds inspiration and some of her favorite design elements.
1. Tell us how you became interested in interior design?
I have always loved design since I was a little girl. Growing up, both of my parents were in the home/design space. I used to work with my dad on his model home developments and with my mom at her design showroom. This helped me realize early on my passion for design – and ultimately lead me to pursue a career as an interior designer.
2. What was your first design project?
When I went out on my own as Erica Bryen Design, I had two projects that started at the same time. The first project was in Palm Desert, and the other was located in Newport Beach. Both projects were stylistically very traditional – think dark furniture and blue and white Chinoiserie. Lucky for me, both of these clients became long term friends, and I will always be grateful they trusted me to design their gorgeous homes!
3. What is your favorite aspect of the process?
My favorite part of the design process is definitely the big reveal at the end of the project. I love when the client gets to see the final design for the first time. Seeing their smiles and happiness for their newly designed space makes it all worthwhile.
4. You’ve worked on so many impressive projects, is there one that is a stand out that you are most proud of?
I have one project that will be photographed in the next month that we are all really excited about. We’ve worked on it for a long time, and the client is a local builder that we work with a lot on other projects, so it was fun to collaborate on his personal home. We can’t wait to style the finishing touches, take photos and share it with everyone!
5. What does a typical day look like?
Every day is very different – which is part of the reason I love my job – no two days are the same. We will be in the office working on a design, creating presentations, working on CAD and space planning - or we can be out at site visits, meeting with clients or visiting some of our favorite showrooms.
6. Do you have favorite books/magazines on design?
We love looking through all the Kelly Wearstler coffee table books, Doris Duke’s Shangri La, A House in Paradise, and Kitchen by Mick De Giulio.
7. What about a favorite site?
We utilize Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram to get inspirations for some of our designs.
8. Where do you find inspiration?
I personally find inspiration everywhere – traveling, a textile, a piece of art. There are so many different things that can inspire a whole room’s design.
9. Tell us about the most frustrating aspect of being an interior designer?
It can be challenging when a client doesn’t understand our design intent and is resistant to our ideas. And, on the flipside what’s the most rewarding one? The most rewarding is seeing the finished product of a design that took us weeks or months to create and having our clients be over the moon about their new home.
10. What are some design trends you just don’t like?
We aren’t big fans of monochromatic design but to each their own!
11. What are your favorite design elements?
I love using wallpaper to add texture and color. Wallpaper is great because it can be changed easily and you get a lot of bang for your buck. I also love wild and funky statement art – you’ll see that in a lot of my projects.
12. How would you say you differ from other designers?
Each designer has a unique style, and I would say that my designs involve lots of color, textures and tend to be bold. I don’t like to play it safe or stay inside a certain trend – I like to take risks, and it always pays off.
13. What advice would you give someone considering your profession?
Make sure you are a very detail oriented person. Design is all about the details - and if you don’t have that focus, then a lot of mistakes can happen.
14. Do you have a dream project?
My dream project would be to work for a client that is very open, who trusts my designs and of course, has no budget (!).
15. When it comes to furniture, what would you recommend we splurge on?
I always recommend my clients splurge on a really comfortable sofa, and well-made, sustainable outdoor furniture that will stand up to weather and last a long time.
16. What are some of your favorite color schemes?
Right now, I am loving using natural woods with black and brass.
17. What are you most excited about?
I am starting a couple of new international projects, and I am excited to see how they will turn out. Be sure to follow @ericabryendesign so you can check out the status of these projects and more.
18. What’s next on your to-do list?
Start designing product(s) lines - like furniture or lighting for different companies.
19. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud that I get to do what I love every single day. I am living out my dreams that I have had of being a designer every since I was a little girl.
20. When it comes to design what do you think is the most important element?
This is a hard question to answer because there are too many elements that are important. I can’t pick just one!
21. A secret that most people don’t know about you?
I was named after ‘Erica’ aka Susan Lucci on All My Children.