Multidisciplinary, dedicated and well organized. Three words to describe a woman who has managed to turn her passion into a job. A professional who pioneers and redefines the rules of interior design. Kari Whitman, head of KWI, based in Los Angeles, confesses to us what others can't say and that's why we really thank her very much...
Kari, you have a portfolio that every interior designer would be jealous of. How do you manage to maintain success all these years?
I love my job... it’s not work. I work 100 hours a week. I’m also an over achiever. We say, in our office under promise over deliver. Only way to success I believe. We throw in a few things, to make clients feel happy and appreciated. At the end of every job I gift my clients with a substantial gift from me. So, they remember the love from me and my team.
Can you share with us some highlights of your career from 1994 to today?
Oh there are so many. The hotel in Baltimore was our biggest job commercially. I was scared to death when we started it and it ended up absolutely beautiful. Now I feel that I can do anything. For me it’s all about the passion and the artistic flow of the job. Sometimes will take on jobs that have no budget just because we want to do that job, and experience it. I did a tiny house with very little budget but it was so rewarding and so fun. All of my jobs are extremely fulfilling. Having clients like Jessica Alba, Don Henley and President Obama have been a highlight. But the highlight really is the success of my company that I started with little or no experience. My team is beautiful and I couldn’t do it without them. Everyone from our top designers to all project participants that go to the design district to get samples for us all day long. I am grateful
You have completed projects all over the world. Is there one client or project that stands out for you?
I’ d say the clients have all become family members for me, so I don’t know that I would say that one job stands out more than another. But I always dreamt of going back to my hometown of Boulder Colorado, and working between there and Los Angeles. Our main office is in Los Angeles. So it’s been hard and rewarding to reinvent myself in Boulder Colorado, and we’ve had some amazing projects there. We have two covers coming out in September on our Boulder projects. Working overseas is really fun too, in London, in Saudi Arabia has been a blast.
Can you describe a typical day at work?
We start our day with a quick meeting of what we want to accomplish to push jobs forward. Remember, under promise over deliver. I’m a stickler about my staff pushing jobs forward, so we never miss a deadline. I’m proud to say we’ve always stayed on budget and on time. We are average about a 10 hour day in the office and I average about a 14 hour day. So it is work work work, and we have a blast doing it. I don’t believe in Office spaces that are creative, so we always work either in my home or in our warm comfy office. I have to give my designers a place to create, breath and have some fun.
Can we have a peek at what comes next for Kari Whitman Interiors?
Oh wow, we have so much work coming. We are doing two city blocks, one in Pasadena and one in Alta Loma. These are big big commercial projects! We are doing a huge residence in Saudi Arabia, two tattoo studios and a dispensary. I like diversity! So presently we have many jobs in the LA area, in the Colorado area, in London and Saudi Arabia. Again, I am grateful.
Our target audience is fellow interior designers & 3d artists. So, can you share with them the creative process you follow? Any tools that you use & help you save time and streamline your operations?
Most of our tools come from our very extensive library, both online and in the office. I am constantly saving things, even pieces of earth like tree bark or oyster shells that I bring back because I like the color. As an artist, Ι always strive to leave a feeling with every client in their home or commercial space. At times this gets very difficult, because we' re running our day to day that we forget the creative and have to jump back into that. One of the apps that I use a lot personally is Bazaart. It allows me to throw things together look at them together, and send it to my team so they can see the path that I want to lead on this particular project. After we have an idea we put everything on a concept board including the cad layout. After the client sees this we submit it to Margarita where she makes it all come to life at High Q Renders. We love Margarita, she’s worked with us for many years, and I am grateful for her.
Can you say a few words on how our services at High Q Renders have contributed to your work?
Honestly, it really helps me a lot to see the space, see my choices, and feel confident that this is all going to work together. It also helps me a lot because we work all over the world. We have overseas clients from different cities, we also have clients from US and I can see where we are at on their project. A lot of times you can’t tell the difference between the rendering and the finished photo shoot. I love Margarita and I love her company. I attribute a lot of my success to her beautiful time and work on our projects.
What is your advice to the new generation of interior designers?
The best advice that I can give is work hard. I feel like the new generation wants things to fall on their lap. Hard work pays off. Do more than you plan to do, don’t just do enough to get by. Also be a trendsetter not a trend follower. I don’t understand who makes all these trends. Who is skilled enough to do this? I was asked in a magazine interview the other day what I thought of the color of the year. I found that so funny. Every color is the color of the year, so please new designers color your world with art, hard work and over achievement.