In our series 6sqft Studio Visits, we take you behind the scenes of the city’s up-and-coming and top designers and artists to give you a peek into the minds, and spaces, of NYC’s creative force. In this installment we take a tour of designer Ghislaine Viñas’ colorful and Tribeca loft. Want to see your studio featured here, or want to nominate a friend? Get in touch!
The work of interior designer Ghislaine Viñas is unmistakable; the bright colors, bold prints, and fun and funky decor have made her the go-to firm for both local Tribeca residents and international clients looking to jazz up their homes. After 25 years and winning countless awards (many of which celebrate her use of color), appearing on television stations like HGTV, and gracing the pages of publications from The New York Times to Vogue, Ghislaine is showing no signs of slowing down. Long fans of her work, 6sqft recently toured Ghislaine’s live/work space, which, not surprisingly is the perfect example of her playful, yet modern, aesthetic. We learned about what influences her designs, how her team works together, and new product collaborations. We also got some tips on how to incorporate color into our homes like a pro.
When did you open your studio in Tribeca? Was your office much different then?
I opened my office in 2000. I had been living in this loft for about ten years, and when I decided to start my firm I was working out of my home. I decided to go out on my own after having completed my first project, which was a 10,000-square-foot office space. I was pregnant with my first baby, so having my business in my loft seemed like the easy way to start out. For the first five years I didn’t have any employees, so it worked well being home with my two young girls while I ran my business. It was a very hectic time.
How has the neighborhood changed since you first arrived?
When I first moved there 26 years ago I would have to explain to cab drivers where Tribeca was since it was a newly named neighborhood. The building next door was dilapidated and abandoned, so we had a pretty healthy rat population that lived there, and dodging rats as I went into the building was a daily occurrence. It was pretty gritty and “real,” but I loved it. The neighborhood has been cleaned up a lot and it’s different now, but I still love it. No more rats, so I love that too!
This is the firm’s “Mock Rock” wallpaper, inspired by a rock wall fireplace at Ghislaine’s Pennsylvania home.
What are some of your favorite local spots?
I really love Fika, the cozy Scandinavian coffee shop around the corner from me. Estancia is a friendly neighborhood bar and eatery which is like the “Cheers” of the hood. It has great food and a great vibe. I also love China Blue for cocktails and great Chinese food.
You were born in the Netherlands and raised in South Africa. Do you feel your roots inspired your aesthetic?
I think my Dutch roots and my exposure to South African culture growing up made it easy to compare cultures and made me even more curious to explore others. I have a very Dutch approach to design and feel like it’s simply in my blood. Traveling is my passion, and I can’t imagine life without these adventures.
What does a typical day in the office look like for you and your team?
We have a very collaborative work environment and I really rely on my team for not only creative collaboration, but also to keep our projects moving smoothly. I love working on the concepts for the projects whether it be interiors or new product design. I discuss ideas and concepts with the team and brainstorm further with them. On a typical day I am working with my designers throughout the day and then also seeing clients and vendors. I consider myself very lucky to have such an amazing team with whom I get to work every day.
How do you balance living and working out of the same space?
This has become a little more difficult for me in the last couple years, and I think it has run its course. I absolutely love the space and I love working from home, but live/work is no longer something I want to continue. I am currently looking for an office space so that I can move my office out of the home. I have two teenage girls now and I need division of my work and home life. It’s bitter sweet. Sweet because I love the big windows and the gorgeous views, but I think it’s much healthier for me to keep these two worlds separate. My design team has also grown, so it used to be easier with one or two people working for me, but now our office has grown to six, so it’s time to move out.
You’re definitely not afraid of color. For someone who may be less accustomed to bright colors, what are your tips for incorporating bold hues?
I love color because it brings me happiness. I have a hard time understanding why people are so afraid of color. Color is not for everyone, but if you are drawn to color then ask yourself what you are so scared of. I think it’s more of an attitude and that people need to relax a bit more and have more fun. I do think color needs to be used carefully, though, because if it’s not used well it can look really garish. Maybe start with pillows in a color that you love or a pattern that you love and know that you can change them out.
Speaking of patterns, tell us a bit about your collaborations with Flavor Paper.
I have been working with Flavor Paper for many years, and so finally we decided to do a line for them about two years ago. We followed up with another line after that and now are introducing two more. It’s a great way to collaborate with my husband, who is a graphic designer, and we enjoy working on these projects together.
Other than wallpaper, what products and collections do you offer?
We did an outdoor furniture collection called Sunnyside for Loll, and I collaborated with Brad Ascalon on the design. It should be coming out very soon. I am currently also working on a rug collection and a lighting collection. We sort of eased into the design of products, and it’s been really rewarding and fun for me.
This sculpture, called Water, Water, is by industrial designer Joe Doucet. Ghislaine and her husband got it at a Hurricane Sandy benefit in Red Hook hosted by Reclaim NYC. It represents how local residents had to wait in line at 7/11 for water donations after the storm.
You have a lot of interesting art and mementos in the space. How do you decide what to display?
Things get changed around all the time. Most of these items are picked up on my travels. I love quirky little arrangements, and I am always drawn to animals for some reason. My art collection has been something that we’ve collected over time.
Interior Design’s Best of Year Awards
Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on?
Not really a favorite, but there have been some definite standouts. I think what makes me truly love a project is more about the relationship with the clients. If I have a good relationship with the client, the projects always end up looking great.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
We are going to be finishing a house in Montauk in April, which is super exciting since we’ve been working on it for a while now. We are working on a yacht in Florida, which has been a new adventure. We’re working on more products and also working on the interiors for an advertising firm in Soho. We have some residential projects in the Tribeca neighborhood, too, and we are designing some projects in LA.
- Studio Visits: Artist Nancy Pantirer Shows Us Around Her Imaginative Tribeca Loft
- My 1,400sqft: Inside Puppet Maker Ralph Lee’s Live/Work Space in Westbeth Artists Housing
- All Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design coverage on 6sqft
Photos by Erin Kestenbaum for 6sqft