I was scrolling through Instagram (like you do) when I noticed this INCREDIBLE, totally my style bathroom, so I went to the feed of Devon Grace Interiors and totally fell in love with her design style. I was so interested in her story that we met up for coffee at 3 Arts Club Cafe because I had to get to know this amazingly talented boss lady and hear about her path. Funnily enough, during our conversation it came up that she's actually very close with Kira David Design - one of the women I interviewed for the feature over the summer. Small creative world, huh? We did this feature in Devon's adorable apartment in Chicago that she designed herself and what a surprise to me that the bathroom I initially fell in love with and made me want to meet her? That bathroom is her own and I got to get all heart-eyes in person and photograph it. All in all, Devon is such a talented, kind and super fun babe to hangout with and I'm so glad that I got to know her!
Thanks to you Devon for welcoming me into your home, letting me get to know you and your business, and for letting me be all weird and in love with your designs. ;)
Q. What's your title?
I refer to myself as an Interior Designer. I like to set myself apart from others by emphasizing the fact that I went to undergrad for architecture and graduate school for interior design, so I think I have a really well-rounded background. I am a licensed interior designer as well, which means I passed the NCIDQ exams which prepare me for code-compliance and ensure a thorough understanding of limitations and requirements necessary for this field of work. Additionally, I am a LEED AP for ID+C which means that I focus on prioritizing sustainable and responsible materials and practices in my design.
Q. How did you get into interior design?
I always had a passion for art and design growing up. In high school, my friend's dad let me start working at his architecture firm every day after school and I immediately fell in love with the industry. From there, I attended Northeastern University in Boston, where you get to take two 6-month co-ops during your schooling during which you break from classes and work full-time for a company in your industry. I spent my first co-op working at Kohn Pedersen Fox in New York City, where I assisted teams on the design for super-towers in China and Korea. My second co-op was at Ann-Beha Architects in Boston, where I met one of their interior designers and learned that I needed to pivot my career-path to truly be doing what I love. After graduation, I enrolled in graduate school at Suffolk University where I got my Master of Arts in Interior Design and Architecture. From then on, I knew I had found what I was supposed to be doing. I worked at two firms, Klingstubbins and Perkins+Will before branching off and starting my own company in 2016.
Q. Was this where you always intended to be in your career, or were there alternative career paths you considered?
I always knew this is what I was meant to do. My father always wanted to be an architect and he taught me to appreciate the art of design from a young age. Some of my earliest memories are driving around in the back seat of the car while my parents drove around neighborhoods pointing out different details of homes that they liked. My mother also comes from an artistic background and got me into painting and drawing when I was in elementary school. I think part of the reason I spend so much time working on my designs, preparing renderings for my clients, is because it reminds me of painting and I think that is the time in the process when I am the most creative.
Q. Why did you choose to do Interior Design in Chicago?
My fiance and I moved to Chicago only about three years ago. I grew up just outside of NYC and went to school in Boston. I've always loved living in the city but Boston never felt quite right. I had learned about Chicago multiple times in school for architecture so during grad school, I planned a trip with some girlfriends. During that trip I told them, "this is where I need to be." Not long after that, Mike and I moved out here and we have only fallen in love with the city more. What I find most unique, is the support I've observed among the designers here. There is such a strong sense of community in the architecture and design industry here. I think in any creative industry, it is easy to get competitive, but the Chicago designers have learned that to really succeed as an industry, we need to all be in it together, and I think that makes us really unique and fortunate. I am so happy and thankful to be a part of it because I think in any other city, it would be so much more difficult to go out on your own and still succeed.
Q. How did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
It's funny it was really kind of impulsive and a case of good timing. I got a taste of working for myself when I took on a small side project while still working at P+W. I really enjoyed the freedom I had so I decided to take a risk before getting tied down with too many life-responsibilities, and I left P+W to start working as DGI and freelancing with Homepolish. Homepolish was a really helpful way for me to get started. I didn't have a portfolio of my own work yet, so it was helpful to have a support system that matched me with clients and supported me throughout the process. After a few months, however, I noticed more and more projects coming to me without Homepolish and I decided to step away and go completely solo. Since then, things have only continued to grow and I have really been getting the opportunity to work with clients that appreciate my personal sense of style and design which has been incredibly exciting.
Q. What's your favorite part about running your own business?
I really love the freedom I have to create my own designs and work one on one with my clients. I have met the most incredible people, both clients and vendors, and I would say this has been my favorite part. In addition, I don't there is anything more exciting than seeing a design I created come to life. There are so many factors that go into the process. I need to create something that my clients will love, and then rely on all of the vendors to create and deliver the vision correctly. I'm not going to sugar-coat it, it is a stressful process, especially in the beginning. When it comes together though, it is beyond exciting. Nothing makes me happier than a client being happy with my work!
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Honestly, I find my best inspiration accidentally. I love when I stumble across a stunning bathroom at a restaurant, or a unique detail at a hotel. I think the times that I am most inspired are when I am traveling. Getting out of my bubble and being exposed to new cultures and designs can really act as a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I'll be struggling with a certain aspect of a design and all I need is a fresh perspective. I think this is the most important thing a designer can do.