Ursula Koenig [ursulak]
How and why did you begin to be creative?
Ever since I can remember, alot is always on my mind. I enjoy writing or sketching out my ideas so my mind is clear.
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
Travel is the best way. Loreto in Baja Sur is quite spectacular because it has the mind clearing properties of the desert meeting the water. And no one is there. It's like Cabo 50 years ago and the food is spectacular, fresh and perfect.
How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into formula? How do you stay fresh?
For professional reasons, I had to keep several formulas and that was ok... the client's formula plus the fingerprint of the design firm and my very own threads had to be there.
Formula is ok. Fresh is better. You can always twist your creations to take it somewhere new - just by color alone.
Do you have a ritual like retiring to a lonely place from time to time to cleanse your mind?
The desert always does the trick.
What cultural sources do you draw from the most?
Music. History. Food.
Who have your teachers been?
Many other designers. My Uncle really taught me about creating the "vibe".
When you accept a job, how much value do you place on each of the following? Money, creative liberty, visibility, and to work with the best.
Creative liberty is huge, rare and fantastic. But working with the best vendors/clients/colleagues might trump that. Money has been the second most important thing for me in the past which has given me the experience I have now.
Have you ever had a job that was so stimulating that you could not get your mind off of it?
Always. I live and breathe design.
"To give birth to ideas." Is this only an expression, or are there really parallels between giving birth and creativity?
What is really great is now I can answer this because I have given birth recently! It's all the same. Uncharted "broken" waters are the same. My new son is the best project I could ever have. There are great parallels and I feel even more creative than before.
Does spirituality contribute to your creativity?
It is possible to fall in love with a bad idea simply because it is yours. How do you avoid this?
Walk away. Come back and really look at it, again.
Must someone be the leader or boss in order for a creative team to function well?
It helps. But when everyone is bring best game, it works usually. Better to have professional collaborators - problem solving quickly and putting any emotion into the tasks at hand. Everyone wins there.
Declaration: With what person or business would you like to work?
I would absolutely love to work for Ralph Lauren. I'd come up with his next 50 collections for home.
What criteria do you use when selecting someone to be a part of your creative team?
Attitude. Then skill.
The armchair psychologist: Is creativity an act of rebellion for you?
Yes, probably. If something is sold out, it really isn't in my world.
What is the best advertisement you've seen recently?
All of the on-line email ads for "Indagare".
Do you work well under pressure?
Yes. I work well and fast.
What city in the world currently attracts you due to its creative environment?
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
How is an idea sold?
Thru visual explanations.
Showing how you arrived at the ideas and be willing to back them up is also very helpful. But people love the cocktail napkin sketch. People loved to be involved. Take them on your journey.
Then budget estimates.
What do you feel when, after two or three years, you see an idea of yours again?
Good. But you can never go back.
Ideas can come simultaneously to different people in different places with no connection to one another. How do you explain this phenomenon?
I see my inventions on the news all the time. People come to the same conclusions or choices or trends. Sometimes it's just giant holes in the marketplace. 6 years ago we needed great lamps. Now they are everywhere.
You are as good as your last idea. Wouldn't you like to have a more secure type of work?
I have never run out of inspiration because this is a process... when you lay out your paints or fabrics or stones, they will speak to you.
What is your specialty?
Where can we view your portfolio online?
Some work is on my blog: casablahblahblog. Also, more work can be seen on my upcoming web boutique: casablahblah.com
What made you interested in design?
In high school, I've always taken art and business. One of my earliest careers was a travel agent and clients noticed I could visualize where they were going without having been there. Many pointed out to me that I should be an architect or designer. Being a designer is what I'll always be.
What has been your professional career path?
I've always worked. As I transitioned into Interior Design, I interviewed many people, visited many showrooms, studios and installations. I was able to pick my school to attend at night: Design Institute of San Diego.
Have you received any awards for your work in the field of design?
Many building industry awards for my work at various model home design firms.
What is your motivation? What makes you get up in the mornings?
My motivation is always there - especially when I go outside or travel.
Coffee gets me going in the mornings.
How would you define your design style?
Baja Revival. Really! Some Spanish Colonial, the beach and all of the food from the entire Pacific Rim. Lots of color, texture, history. Rustic contemporary - everything is hand made where ever your eye lands.
How do you promote and move your work?
I have a handful of clients. And I try to help friends and other designers whenever I can.
I make myself available. I email photos. I'm surprised how well word of mouth marketing works.
In which new areas would you like to experiment?
Shapes, color, concept: where do you usually begin when conceiving a design?
Concept. But the real start lies in what the client really needs.
What are your sources for documentation and to generate ideas?
Everything. Fashion. Music. Travel. Cooking. Movies. Books. Places. Really everything. But when all else isn't working - I just open the door and walk outside. Nature has the best concepts and color schemes - always.
Which festivals or awards in your field do you find most interesting?
None, really. But I love when something incredible is published and the photos are incredible - I always want my interior to look like you've stepped into a gorgeous magazine photo.
What is your favourite type of customer?
I work well with all kinds of people. I am a collaborator. But it's those who want to have fun and are desiring a space that they really want to come home to.
To a certain point, is copying justifiable?
Yes. There is nothing new under the sun. There is always a new arrangement, though.
List some things you dislike seeing in design.
I love to look at ultra contemporary spaces, however, once I'm actually in them, I am never comfortable and I want to add or re-work what's happening in them.
Do you believe the newer generations are better at designing?
I'm a tough one, here. And I'm older with new sensibilities. Rarely do I see something really thought thru that is inviting, warm and lush. Many young designers I've worked with loved the magazine Domino. I love Veranda.
With which type of client would you decline in working for?
Certain residential work, depending on the scope, is what I have declined in the past. Sometimes it's not worth it for someone to piece it together. Why spend more in design hours when you could have bought a piece of art, for example?
How do you calculate budgets for a design project?
Apparently, I do something that is not typical: My presentations contain the actual pieces they would get, with concepts, swatches, sketches - almost a custom catalog of what the interiors can be. Each piece always has an option - especially on focal items. And I always present 2 price points. What you see is what is in stock and what you'll get in
Which professionals in your field -contemporary or past- do you most admire?
Celebrity designers: Clodagh, Thom Filicia, Ralph Lauren, Betsey Johnson, Kelly Wearstler, Trina Turk, Nate Berkus.
Southern California designers: Kathy Blackbird of Blackbird Interiors, Inc., Dawn Kearney of Design Line Interiors, Inc., Cathy Holeva of CH Design Group, Inc., Lori Gentile, Stacey McLaughlin of Catalina Design Group, Inc.
Which software applications do you most utilize in your work?
The iphone, exclusively. Safari. Microsoft Word. I Photo. I Cal.
Up to what point do your designs reflect your personality?
Art and Accessories. Once I learned how this works, I've loved it ever since. I always have some kind of animal or lantern in everything.
How do you distinguish passing fads from mainstays in new trends?
This is very tricky because with all fads, you can reach in and find the visual "heart" and that is the "mainstay". Example: Palm Trees as a motif were everywhere. They are still around but you'll see a close up of a palm frond in sepia tones in a framed photo instead of pattern all over bedding. And the "Suddenly Tuscany" look is also still everywhere, but it's the Tuscan interiors that stayed more super rustic that are lasting because it is authentic.
If you weren't a designer, what would you be doing?
If I am not designing interiors, I am designing jewelry.
At this moment, what would be your dream job or project?
To design my new son's full size backyard Tipi as his super cool play room where he can spend summer nights and use as a cozy hang out spot. The vibe is pure Baja with Mexican blankets and driftwood.
Can you see yourself in this field twenty years from now?
Which design resources online do you frequently visit?
1st dibbs, Anthropologie, Williams Sonoma Home, RL Home, Sundance, Indagare, Vivre, Daily Candy, The Philips Collection, Nettleton Hollow, Arizona Tile, Jessit Gold Interiors.
Using the subway without paying, shoplifting: is there excessive tolerance to these small offenses?
I don't know.
What do you think of the squatter "movement"?
Mixed feelings here, I think. Get a job and get a place. I mean flip burgers if you have to.
Does brand name influence your buying habits?
Do you think tipping is a good custom?
Yes. You never know if you have to be the waiter.
Are there too many holidays in the work calendar?
No. We work way too much.
Do you think the catastrophism about climate change has been exaggerated?
No. There are pictures.
Do you boycott brands if you learn they employ children in third-world countries or harm the environment?
I try to.
Do you defend animal experimentation for the development of medicine that can save human lives?
No. There is software for that.
What is your opinion of the rise in popularity of plastic surgery and implants?
Well, are they happy?
Should more limits be established for cars within downtown areas?
Do extraterrestrials exist?
What do you currently have in your MP3 player?
What books are you currently reading?
The Senators Wife.
Places in the world that you have visited recently.
Anza Borrego Desert.
What is that special film you never tire of watching?
What do you use: Mac or PC and why?
Mac. It's super fast and easy and it always works.
What is to come after consumist society?
Time with family.
Do you find the saturation of advertising in the media excessive?
Do you believe there is excessive sex and violence in the media?
What were your favourite subjects when you were in primary/secondary school?
Do you think video games, chat rooms, etc. have a dangerous addictive
effect on teenagers?
My step son is living proof of a video game addict and now he is homeless at 20.
I think shoving a dvd player in front of a toddler at a restaurant is criminal. There is a significant detachment once these electronics are introduced.
Has there been a personal-growth book that has transformed your life?
No. But some are very interesting.
Have you ever bought works of art? What type of art? What compels you to purchase art?
Yes, both personally and professionally. Paintings, photos, sculpture, just about everything. I love art. It sets the tone.
Do you defend urban graffiti?
Yes. We have unusual graffiti here in San Diego on our freeways. They are splattered with paint from water balloons. Every time I travel, I look at their graffiti including old carvings in Siena, Italy. Rome had beautiful graffiti. Mexico's border fence outside of San Diego also has amazing story telling with their graffiti.
What magazines do you frequently read?
Veranda, Western Interiors, Elle Decor, Luxe, Riviera, Cote Sud, World of Interiors, Vanity Fair, In Style, Rolling Stone, Uncut, Palm Springs Life, Architectural Digest, Lucky, Cookie, Town & Country, Portfolio, Travel & Leisure, W, Santa Barbara.
Piracy continues to grow: What will happen to the music and film
industries and culture in general?
It will always be there - not only with sharing an MP3 file but in actual pirates taking over remote resorts or cruise ships. I think stay-cations will become popular and technology will keep on-line pirates at bay.
What sports do you play and how often?
None. Never. I roller skate, mountain bike, hike and that's about it.
How do you explain the rise in "fame" culture?
Money. Escape-ism. People will buy anything therefore Madison Avenue will pay. There are celebrities famous for doing nothing - but they are pretty. Living catalogs filled with designer bags and drama. Walking billboards. Moving ads. We won't need a logo on the moon when there are plenty of available empty people to walk around with all the logos you want - caught in compromising positions.
Should consensual offenses such as drug use or prostitution be legalized?
Are you pro-choice or pro-life?
Are you in favor of or against the death penalty?
I really liked the idea of using the death row as experiments for science.
Should homosexual couples have the same right to adopt as heterosexual couples?
Absolutely! Why would you deny the orphaned child a great home? I don't get it! Is the orphanage better because it's run by straight people? Or gypsies? Everyone should do whatever is humanly possible to give a small child good home. The end.
San Diego, CA