Expert designer Lori Wiles knocks on your door with 30+ years of experience. She is camera saavy, respectful, fun & an excellent source! As the Lead Designer on projects in 14 states, Lori often meets clients for the first time in an airport luggage area! Good space is not only artistic, but scientific. Blending the new with the old, Lori not only has a vast knowledge of classic design, but the passion to discover new and innovative ideas to make spaces fit like a glove.
Thank you so much for doing this! What’s your backstory?
I grew up in a rural area of Missouri with a very creative Mom who could figure out how to do anything. She designed the house we lived in when I was 5 years old! Therefore, I was exposed to design early — it feels like I’ve always been thinking about design. When I was a little girl my favorite thing to play was “house.” My version of house was to name the dolls and then spend lots of time figuring out how to arrange their things and making doll furniture, blankets, clothes and even dishes. When I was 8 or 9 I taped shipping boxes against a wall like a cut away of a house and furnished each room with hand painted wallpaper and coordinating curtains. At one point I realized that Barbie’s pedestal sink was only slightly above her knees so I cut apart and added an extender so it would be easier for her to use.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I graduated college with a 4 year degree in 3 years, so at 21 I started my first job with a small interior design firm. We had our own custom workroom run by a tiny, sinewy farm wife named Edna who created beautiful, elaborate custom window coverings and bedding. I would take my designs to her and she could make them become a reality. She told me “you can’t make beautiful things until you know how things work,” and then proceeded to show me how things worked. I spent hours with her understanding 3-dimensionality, moving parts, gravity, geometry, and much more. She cared enough to teach me. I learned that every craftsperson, every contractor, every vendor, and every client had their own perspective and expertise to share.
What does art and creativity mean to you?
I am continually amazed at artists, crafters, and the creative souls that exist. Their willingness to share something that new, that they’ve imagined is very brave. Creating something that doesn’t exist, that isn’t already approved of, exposes the creator to the harshest of critics. The creative souls continue to share things that didn’t exist before they took the risk and put in the time.
Describe your creative process when envisioning a space; what steps do you go through and has that changed over the course of your career?
My creative process has become somewhat systematic. First, I want to know all of the facts about a space, like who will use it, what size it is, what are absolute limitations like building codes, or historic elements. After that, I want to know how people want to feel in the space. Then I want a little “brain space”, or time to let my subconscious mind ruminate about the information and the space. After that, I often start seeing inspiring things that are applicable to the design, like how light travels through materials, or how room volumes can manipulate feelings. That leads to creating a concept and trying to express that to the client and my team. This has changed through the years. I used to work harder at “making” an idea sprout but I’ve learned to give thoughts time to appear and to trust that the ideas will always arrive.
What has been your biggest challenge in getting to where you are today?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is learning how to step away from everyone’s expectations. So many people think they want to be “a designer” and that they know what “a designer” is like. I finally let go of all of that after some great advice from my friend Kate. She told me that she just makes a decision and wears it. She was talking about her choices in clothing but it applies to so much more.
What would you tell your 20 year old self?
I would tell 20 year old Lori to be bolder and enjoy the ride. I’d tell her that there are very few design rules that can’t be worked around and that she’d be better off breaking them early and making up her own.
What do you think are the most important things creative/artistic people need to know about running a successful business?
The best thing that creatives can do for their business is to find and appreciate the non-creatives like bookkeepers and process people. Assembling a team of people who love all of things you hate is hugely important and allows you to focus on generating new ideas, creating what you are driven to create, and lets you go forward faster.
What can the average person do to make their living space more pleasant to live in?
Everyone can make their space better by editing it. That means knowing what is in the room, keeping what is important to you, and removing what is not important. This process creates room for you to see what the possibilities of the space are. The physical act of arranging things to suit you is tremendously empowering too.
How can people follow you and learn more about what you do?
I share my ideas via newsletter. You can sign up on www.loriwilesdesign.com, follow me on Instagram @loriwilesdesign, Facebook at Lori Wiles Design, and on Houzz at Lori Wiles Design.
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Medium magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live