Interview with Kara Smith – president/partner at sfa design
As president of sfa design, Kara Smith give us the chance to take some questions.Kara has transformed the boutique design company into an elite international firm,bringing in clientele from all over the world from Mexico to the Middle East, from South America to Asia.
Homedit: Were you always interested in design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
Kara Smith: My mom was a designer so I grew up around it, but I always thought that I wanted a different career. However, when the opportunity presented itself, I took to it so naturally and realized it really is such a wonderful career.
Homedit: Where do you find your inspiration?
Kara Smith: Fashion! Watching the runways to see how I can translate the latest styles to interiors – a hangover from my previous life as a fashion designer. I also get a lot of inspiration from my Clients… getting into their world and hearing how they live, what they like, art they have collected..I find it really helps to evolve my own taste.
Homedit: Can describe your first interior design project?
Kara Smith: Its really weird to look back at projects I did 10 years ago…my taste and level of experience is so evolved. I used to be much more drawn to contemporary zen and my projects reflected that.
Homedit: How long ago did you start your business?
Kara Smith: I started with sfa design in an operations role about ten years ago when the company was quite small. I quickly became the driving force behind growing the firm, leading to my role as President and ultimately full partner with Sue Firestone. Sue has been in this business for 30 years and is an incredible partner and business woman.
Homedit: What kind of people ask for your help?
Kara Smith: sfa caters to luxury clientele in both the residential and hospitality sectors. We have worked with an A-List of celebrities of the entertainment, sports and business worlds, as well as with such acclaimed hotel operators as Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.
Homedit: What is your favorite book/magazine on design?
Kara Smith: I’m constantly tearing apart magazines for collection my inspiration books – right now the most shredded seems to be Elle Décor. I also have an entire library of great design books from Louis Vuiton Architecture to entertaining books.
Homedit: How about your favorite design website?
Kara Smith: I love following design blogs for inspiration – one of my favorites right now is Elements of Style (elementsofstyle.com)
Homedit: What you recommend for this year?
Kara Smith: Livable design – the new James Pearse collection is spot on the mark. I’m also into great patterns like Missoni’s home collection.
Homedit: What is the average time allocated to a project?
Kara Smith: There is literally no answer to this question – we have completed residential projects in as little as 6 weeks and have had hotel jobs that went on for up to 5 years. It all depends on the scope of the work and the client.
Homedit: What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
Kara Smith: Remember it’s not about you, but who you design form – there are way too many ego’s in this business!
Homedit: What are your plans for the future?
Kara Smith: In the near future I am beyond excited for the opening of our new LA office next month, I am totally immersed in the design of it – it will truly be my dream office! A little further out, I am developing an amazing, eclectic furniture line based off of some of the custom pieces we have created for our clients over the years.
Homedit: Who or what are your major design influences?
Kara Smith: My design influences come from my life as a whole, not one particular person or idea – it could be a vintage chandelier from Paris, a fabulous restaurant that I visited in Italy, an amazing fabric found in Soho or the energy of Hong Kong.
Homedit: What do you think of our site www.homedit.com?
Kara Smith: Great inspiration – perhaps a new guilty pleasure?! Love the diversity of styles that you show, fits perfectly with sfa’s mantra of “no signature style” I plan to use it as a source of inspiration from now on!