I'm interviewing real-life designers about what it is like to run a design business in countries all over the world. As you'll see these designers have all different backgrounds and experiences, but I think you'll be surprised how similar we all are too.
About Estudio Idear
Ana Sol Campastro, Maria Eugenia Figueroa, and Paula Rojo Alurralde started Estudio Idear 5 years ago after they all graduated with architecture degrees from UCASAL University in Salta, Argentina.
What is a typical project like for your business?
A new house or a remodeling project of a house — we design everything and make all the 3D and interior design decisions. We prepared everything to begin the building, and we work with the constructor or the architect in charge of the building. We have the contact with the client and we make all the decision that involves terminations and details. We work in advanced on timing and budgets in all the interior and exterior design.
Why did you become interior designers?
We actually are architects. When we finished University, we started doing remodeling and small projects, where we have to change the interior. That began to be more often, and now we love thinking about the interior, and details. Sometimes we can’t finish our work with decoration, but we want to solve a lot of thing during the construction of a house, and we start designing thing, such as details, at the beginning. In this few years we discovered that the interior, and details are the most important things in our client lives, and if we solve thing and if that solutions are beautiful and well designed, we believe we made it.
What are the requirements to be an interior designer in Argentina?
You can be an informal designer who can do small projects, and you have to study 3 years in an institute. You can have a title of Interior designer if you go to University, and you can study there 3 years, or you can have the bachelors degree after 5 years. Another way is if you are an architect, which takes 6 years at University.
What does a successful interior design business look like in Argentina?
Generally they work trough a decoration store, as a service included in their products. Another ones works with an office with more than one designer. In Buenos Aires is more usual to have a studio only dedicated to interior design, but here in Salta, is always by already having a decoration store, or being for example an architect with a studio and were you do a lot of architectural work and you can offer a decoration or interior service too. That's our case. If you are successful you have an office that you can notice you are talking to designers, with cool decoration, clean, and a lot of samples of floor, wood, marble, and all kind of stuff; and of course magazines and books.
What is the biggest struggle you face as a designer in Argentina?
In Argentina we have the problem that everything gets expensive every day, because of the economic inflation, and of course, this makes some clients can’t afford the initial project. Another struggle is that only in Buenos Aires is more usual to hire a designer. We are living and working at the north, in Salta Province, and the difficult things to face are: too little offer of design products, and that people don’t have in mind the idea of hiring a professional to do their decoration o their interiors, so they don’t want to pay much for that.
What does it take to be a successful designer in Argentina?
You need to be connected with the design world, and you cannot think that being only a designer would afford your life. You have to be prepared to solve a lot of things that maybe a constructor would do, because here most people have the idea that you have to do everything. You have to work hard to make you a name, and you have to be professional, and in another way you need to be promoted by another client or people. Here in Salta, that gets a little easier because its a small city.
How do you charge?
We charged in advance some money, depends on the scale of the work and generally its a 40%- 50% of the project design work. That helps us to see if the client is really interested in the work, and we can schedule things and start as soon as possible. After that, we have two other payments until the end. We divided the project work in two - pre-project and final project, that help us to establish a real pre-project and then charge our client the final project according to the plans and final design.
What traits or talents have made you successful?
First: team work, we are three at the studio and we are friends. Every project is design by the three of us, maybe one is the main designer, but to have three minds thinking about it, get things better. Second: Professionalism. We were too young at first, so the main thing we have was to be professionals, and be confident for our clients and expectations. Third, respect what our clients want, and don’t force them. Because we think that the house, the money or the space we are going to change is their space; so we always try to do thing that already were in their minds, or otherwise we show them why their idea maybe is not the right one. And finally, we work with several option of designs with different budgets or solutions; that helps the client to feel that everything was considered at first, and that the final option is the best one.
Do you see any differences between design in the US and Argentina? If so, what are they?
Yes, the main difference is that there people know they must hire a designer to do thing right; here is not like that, though now a days that’s changing. Another difference is that you have economic stability in general things; here it gets harder because we don’t know how its going to be in a few years.
What is your ideal project?
First a client who knows he/she wants and needs a designer and that he/she understands that our work is a work, and we charge for that. After that, we love families and houses, even small places where we can change thing, or create thing only for them. Another ideal project is where we can do only a few change - because they are simply to solve or create - or project that are like a blank page, where we can do almost whatever. The timing in the project is crucial, if we don’t have time at all is a little stressing, and when we have all the time, it's difficult too; that's why time has to be the necessary, and client need to share this, or at least understand it.
Now a days we start working with another architects, they all are men, and the are in charge of the whole construction of the house, and we design the interior and exterior details, and this type of project with this method is the best, because we work as a team, and we can focus on the project, and not be already needed in the construction area.
What is the design community/ design industry like in Argentina?
Argentina is huge, but everything is in Buenos Aires. Recently they start to get more organized and they already have a magazine and an institute where they manage events of all types. In Salta there is only the university community, but it doesn’t work too much. Most of all, some institute organize events and courses. But if you want to see arrivals and to be actualized you have to travel to Buenos Aires, at least a few days. All the huge stores are there too.
You can contact campastro - figueroa - rojo - arquitectas, estudio idear at email@example.com.
With the exception of the title photo, photos courtesy of campastro - figueroa - rojo - arquitectas, estudio idear.