In our ongoing Designer Spotlight Series, we talk with interior designers and architects to see what inspires them, and get insights to how they approach creating beautiful spaces. In this Spotlight we talk to Amalia Gal and learn about her process and experiences as a designer.
Stikwood: Introduce yourself! How long have you been in the interior design business for?
Amalia: Hi I’m Amalia Gal, and my company name is Amalia Gal Design. I started in the (Interior Design) industry in the early 90’s.
Stikwood: Tell us about you, your journey into interior design, and your business:
Amalia: I started working for a couple of Beverly Hills decorators while in school. I was the only employee, so I learned a lot. It was a great job for me. I was in school because I changed my career. I have a Bachelor's degree in Fashion Merchandising, so I worked as a stylist for sometime. I went back to school at UCLA for their Design Program, which was a pretty rigorous program. I feel education is really important, and I credit everything I do now to that program frankly.
Back in the 90’s AutoCAD was just in its infancy, so all of my schooling was done in hand drawing. I know I’m like ancient that way! But I am really glad I did.
I worked for those ladies (BH decorators) for about three years until they closed their business. I then worked for a couple years in residential, then I discovered commercial design. It was more professional with bigger projects, which I work well in because of the structure and discipline that came with it. I worked in the commercial space for about 15 years!
I then worked for a smaller TI company, then the financial world imploded. I was working for this small company, people got let go and then it was just the owner and I at the end there. There were financial struggles, so I decided to do what I had been talking about doing for decades. I finally packed up three bags and two cats and I moved to Paris! I thought I would be there for a few months, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no place to live, no friends or a job.I just went to see what would happen. I ended up being there from 2010-2012. I came back because I didn’t get a job in architecture like I was hoping because business was terrible there as well and I didn’t have any connections there.
I ended up teaching English to make some money for a little bit, I ended up coming back because I really missed the (Interior Design) work.
I thought I would end up working for a bigger company, but one day I decided to see if I could push a little business. When I actually tried to market myself and make connections, all of sudden everything blew up! I needed an office and some help, so in 2018 AGD was born. My business ended up being 50/50. 50% residential and 50% commercial.
Stikwood: Do you see your fashion degree mirroring your design degree at all? Do you feel like they mix together or are they separate?
Amalia: They are absolutely the same thing. With my fashion degree, we had to take some Chemistry classes related to textiles mostly. In design we didn’t do anything like that, we didn’t learn about the making of the materials we were using and that was cool to me. Fashion and design are very similar, you have some people who just like the technical side of things then there are people who are the real creatives.
Stikwood: How do you maintain creativity?
Amalia: Baking, I like to come up with a new outfit everyday, but really it’s all around. We are doing a Summer Fun Day here soon, where we will walk around LA then get some food. Doing things like going to a museum or traveling, really helps you see life a little differently.
Stikwood: What would you say is your “signature style”?
Amalia: Mm that is a great question! I've been exposed to a lot of ways of doing things, and I still do my business that way. This client isn’t afraid of color so I’ll throw color here and there but another client could want only neutral tones like gray and white. In doing that, only recently have I realized that, even if you want the grays and whites, that’s not me. But a bit of me comes through. This goes across the board for any creative field, your likes will seep in.
I am all about color and patterns, so it’s hard for me to do something in a white box. I want all the colors and all the patterns, I am definitely closer to maximalism than minimalism.
Stikwood: You recently used Stikwood in one of your projects, how did that come about? Talk me through that project.
Amalia: We used Stikwood for an IT company office space. The owner of the company was the one who brought Stikwood to my attention, I hadn’t known your brand prior to this project. Stikwood definitely brought in some texture, some color in a natural way to the space. Which was a great juxtapositioning (I love the word juxtaposition, and I love performing it) because everything else was relatively sleek, because it is a Technology company.
We used Stikwood in the reception area of the office that separated the reception desk and the work space. We also used a little bit behind the reception desk to highlight that part as well. On the main wall we used it (Stikwood) for, you can’t really tell in the images but there are some cutouts on that wall. The client didn't want the wall to fully close off the two spaces, so we created some airflow. What I ended up doing was spelling out the word ‘tech’ in morse code, it's like a little secret! I love putting a little bit of humor into my work.
Stikwood: What is your best piece of advice to offer someone who wants to get into interior design?
Amalia: This is such an important question to me; education, education, education. You can hang something up in a space but that’s not really a design, I’d call it decorating (IMO). Designing is the morse code example I gave earlier. To design a space, drawing everything out yourself, seeing where the plumbing will go, etc. Without education behind you being able to do that takes a lot of fieldwork in order for you to know what you are doing.
Stikwood: Where can people go to find out more about you and your services?
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