This month we chat to an interior designer who has built up an design business that spans both commercial and residential design. A finalist in the national design competition ‘Corporate Cultures Design Journey,’ and recently awarded one of Australia’s Interior Designers to watch by realestate.com.au. Alicia made time to chat to us and share some of her stunning work! (First image from @aliciaxiberrasinterios Instagram feed)
How did Alicia Xiberras Interiors begin?
I grew up around floor plans, my father was a builder. I had this ability to be able to read them from a young age and I used to pretend to be architect. I never played with my Barbies but I did create Barbie houses out of shoe boxes. Creating curtains and designing the interior. I just seemed to have a passion for it. At 17 I applied to accounting but realised that was not where I wanted to go so I studied an Advanced Diploma of Interior Design. My first job was done the old fashioned way. There was no social media. So it was sifting through the yellow pages. I called ten firms a day until I got a job. I went into the drafting section of a firm in Parramata and was not qualified in the programs at the time but they employed me because they said I had something. I think they sensed my passion! So I learnt everything on the job AutoCAD, Revit, the DA process in Council everything.
After a while I had an itch for interiors not architectural work and I went to a Kitchen company and learnt all about joinery design for 2 years. Then I slowly went out on my own. Colour consulting on side while I worked and this lead to starting my business 6 years ago but it really only took off with the exposure of social media, and being recognised by www.realestate.com.au as being one of Australia’s most upcoming and promising designers.
It’s astonishes me every day that at 29 years old my business has grown, from starting as just me behind my laptop, to now having a client base of retail and residential, 25 projects we are currently working on, hiring a personal assistant and designing my own studio.
What is your daily life/ schedule as an Interior Designer?
Well, today I have 15 clients to follow up on all at various stages of their projects. I am also meeting with a graphic designer for the look of a store bulk head for a commercial project I am working on. Budgeting for new residential design project. Organising a meeting with Christopher Boots for a light instillation for residential project. I have a meeting with a representative from Laminex on new products for our sample library. And a catch up with a local tile store for new range and price review. Then when I have finished all that I will be working on the design side of the projects. Oh and we are also planning to go to Décor and Design in Melbourne so finalising those details. Then when the work day has ended, I go to my other busy life of being a young mum with two small children.
What are your main sources of inspiration?Following suppliers and what they have coming out. Also going to events for example, Belle magazine launched with Laminex recently and I was chatting with the editor of the magazine about the industry and trends, and what is the design talk straight out of Milan.
So how do you get invited or here about these industry events?
Its really important to have good relationships with the supplier reps. They are always trying to educate me in what’s happening within their companies, and their industry nights. Talk to people in the magazine world and collaborate with people on social media. Personally I am an Instagram girl and I also get a bit of inspiration there. I also go to Seminars like Decor + Design with Scarlet Opus who are British based trend forecasters.
What advice/tips would you give students who have completed their studies and want to start working in the industry or want to start their own business?
Don’t give up. If you have to break your back to do it do it, work for free, put in the long hours, just do what it takes to get noticed to get in the industry!
If you would like to eventually start your own business you need to ensure you have strength, dedication, it’s also not just about being a fantastic designer, it’s about being able to sell your concepts to clients and managing tight time frames, and working as a team with your staff. But, if you want it with everything you have, hard work pays off.
What were the most valuable things you learned there?
You have to maintain professionalism in the business. But for me I find my clients become my friends as you are personally involved in their space and lifestyle. It is really valuable to form that bond with clients, they have to trust you and you have to understand them.
How do you find your new clients?
Word of mouth. Facebook is so important. You have to keep in mind who your targeting and grow that audience. With my 2k followers 90% are local to me and all know about me.
What is the best way to engage with this audience?
An enticing image. Everything we post has to be a great quality photo and great content. Inspire your followers. I believe everyone should have a the access to having the inspiration on how to have a beautiful home even on a budget!
If you could shadow any designer for a day, who would it be?
Steve Cordony – he is editor of Belle magazine. I love his style, classic meets contemporary.
Can you sum up your style in three words?
Classic contemporary fusion.
Is there a piece/object on your lust list at the moment?
A Christopher Boots light installation – I am very excited to be visiting his showroom soon, he is one of Australia’s most iconic lighting designers, we have personally been invited down to Melbourne to see his design process and work space
What are you currently working on?
A few projects actually both residential and commercial.
In the residential side I have a fun project that we are involved in from the beginning of the architectural process. It’s a 1000 sqm luxury home and the client style is a New York / Manhattan look of contemporary classic. It’s an exciting project because we are involved from the beginning but also because she has elaborate taste and we can play a little with flair. On the retail side of things – I am revamping a 30 yr old fresh food grocer, 3000 sqm. But it is a really holistic project as it involves everything from redoing the logo and the whole concept of the business in general.
Upcoming High end luxe project at Freemans Reach
Minto Fruit Orchard refurbishment / Shieke Industrial Style