Art + Design with Ghislaine Viñas
Based in New York City and recently opened an office in Hudson Valley, New York, but Ghislaine's projects are all over
Principal designer and owner of
Photo by Bill Zules
How did you get started in this field?
I knew from the age of 13 that I wanted to be an interior designer. I studied in Philadelphia and moved to New York City immediately after graduation. My career actually started in design sales - being a newcomer not only to America but also to New York City, this was a valuable experience in helping me to understand New York and business culture.
From there, I was introduced to a client who hired me to design her 10,000-square-foot office space during the dot.com boom. I didn't have much of a portfolio at the time, but we clicked. She happens to be the curator of one of the largest privately-owned contemporary art collections in the US. Since then (23 years ago!), we have become close friends and have worked on many commercial, residential, and hospitality projects together.
Through all of this time, we've completed many projects with which she trusted us to go design-off roading. She is adventurous, never boring, and has always been an incredible influence and teacher regarding anything art-world related.
Describe your typical day.
Typical day? What on earth do you mean? No day is standard, and it's precisely the way I like it.
I currently spend my time between city and country, spending more time in Tivoli now that we have our office in Upstate, NY. My life is full of travel, both for clients and adventure.
I feel incredible stability due to the strong relationships and collaboration within the Ghislaine Viñas design team at our home base in NYC.
When picking art, give yourself complete freedom of expression, and surround yourself with images that feel authentic to you and not something that's trending.
Photo by Jaime Viñas
How would you describe your personal style when it comes to interior design?
My personal style is anything that makes you smile, is profoundly comfortable, amazingly unique or delights in a sophisticated manner. I don't believe I have a singular style; instead, the DNA and aesthetics of happiness runs through everything I do.
I love to think that with the relationships I have with my clients, I bring something very special to the work that we do - not just in the final outcome of a design project but through the process of working together.
What inspires you?
If you were to drop me in a remote or unusual culture somewhere in the world and allow me to explore, that's when I'm at my happiest. I feel intoxicated by learning and seeing how people live and dress and do for fun. I think it influences the way I see things.
I am, of course, so inspired by other designers and artists. I am constantly in awe of the incredible originality that I see. Okay, just being real, 70% of what's out there is incredibly dull, but it's so easy with social media and access to dig deeper and discover such incredible talent in the world.
What's your number one piece of advice when it comes to picking artwork for a room?
Save room for the art. In masterfully designed rooms, the art is so often the soul of the space. Just like saving room for dessert for a perfectly balanced and well-rounded meal, art can bring so much energy and attitude to a room. I always consider the energy that the art will have in a room when selecting color and fabrics to balance out the space.
Even if I don't know exactly which piece will go on a wall-- I know that it will be an incredible juxtaposition and add an element of cheekiness or will surprise and engage. Art is what defines the uniqueness of a project and what communicates the clients' authentic style.
When picking art, give yourself complete freedom of expression, and surround yourself with images that feel authentic to you, and not something that's trending (although realistically I know this is hard to do). You can do the same by surrounding yourself with topics that have meaning to you. You'll find that generic and trendy things don't keep your attention for a long time, but something truly meaningful stands the test of time.
Your best tips for making a space feel like home?
You don't want to feel assaulted by art. Too much energy can be exhausting, and too little energy can be very dull. Understand what you get in one eyeful, meaning what's in view when panning around the room. Art should work together instead of competing or conflicting.
A room only needs one powerful piece; the others should be complementary. Make one statement and stick with it. That's not to say that you can't have other art in the room but try not to overcrowd the space-- let one piece dominate. Also, remember that your eyes might not see all the art at once; we're not gifted with chameleon-like eyesight. Just be aware of the energy that the art brings.
The best part of what I do is the fact that it comes totally and utterly naturally to me. It's not something I have to question or debate; it is simply what I do with total confidence and passion.