Q. When did you know you wanted to become an interior designer?
ACG “Design is something that has always been around in my life. My mother was a kitchen designer, she drew cabinet plans for a cabinetmaker. In other words, I grew up surrounded by plans and drawings. Plus, we used to paint together, we mixed colors to create new ones… Thinking about it today, I think my creative side and my interest in exploring textures and colors comes from there.
Later, in high school, when it was time to choose a career path, my personality test revealed that I was “an artistic entrepreneur.” Going through the list of job suggestions, I came across “interior designer” and it was obvious that it was what I wanted to do. I’ve never regretted or doubted that decision since. I have always had a strong interest for fashion as well, however this has remained only a passion that fortunately my creative profession allows me to express.”
Q. You’re involved in the communications at LemayMichaud, can you tell us why it is important for you to invest in the visibility and the brand of the firm?
ACG ” I think this answer comes in two parts. First of all, my brother, whom I am very close to, is a graphic designer. Through our discussions, I developed a real interest in everything related to the brand, the logo and visual projections in general. He taught me a lot about it.
Then, at LemayMichaud, we are a really great team! We are lucky enough to be part of a family of professionals who has 40 years of inspiring history.We are known today for extravagant as much as timeless projects Because I’m proud of that, it is a no brainer for me to promote the company, the projects and the people behind it.”
Q. According to you, what is LemayMichaud’s strength?
ACG “At LemayMichaud, we are fortunate to have three different professions (architect, interior designer and technologist) under the same roof, sharing the office space and who collaborate on a daily basis. This is a great advantage because everything is inherently linked. This gives more flexibility and latitude to, at the end, deliver a consistent and optimized project. We are a creative, inspired and audacious firm that works hand in hand with its clients. The strengths and values of LemayMichaud also resonate enormously with me on a more personal level.”
Q. What does a typical interior designer work day look like?
ACG ” First of all, each day is different and that’s what I love about this job. Each mandate being different, they all have their own constraints, inspirations and solutions. In this job, there is no such thing as routine!
A part of my job is always dedicated to design. It consists of putting myself in creation mode while having room for imagination to work on the aesthetics of the project. Preparing presentations for the client is also a recurrent task. While the development and choices of materials are being orchestrated in parallel.
Finally, at LemayMichaud the interior designer works in tight collaboration with fellow architects and technicians from the plans development until the completion of the project.Throughout the entire process, the contact with the customer is essential and omnipresent.From listening to the requirements, to monitoring progress, through presentation or even coordination with other intervenants, it is an important part of the designer work to support the client throughout the realization of his project.”
Q. While we are at it, what phase of a project do you prefer?
ACG “Designing! What motivates me in this job is to create and let myself be carried away by spaces. It might sound strange but in addition to the client’s requirements, you quickly realize that when exploring the space it actually dictates the design direction. In my opinion, it is often by taking into consideration the local materials that the best projects are born!
I also like the completion of a project, when the client takes possession of the space. I consider it a chance that in my job I am able to make a client’s dream become reality and tangible. It’s always rewarding and the best!”
Q. Can you tell us a little more about your approach to a project?
ACG “My approach is based on the client’s guideline. Knowing how to listen to the customer and identify the brand’s personality are the strengths of a designer. An interior designer must know how to do something beautiful while working with constraints.
Once the needs are understood, comes the inspiration and design phase that I stated previoulsy. I look at different projects and consult inspiration boards that I have gathered over time. On my desk there are always two or three favorite samples* that I keep preciously and look forward to integrating.
I am motivated by curiosity which can therefore give me inspiration from anything that I come across in my daily life. We must always keep an eye out because inspiration can be found everywhere in our environment and surroundings. A project can always be improved!”
* editor’s note – it’s apparently a little more than two or three items!
Q. Where do you find your inspiration?
ACG “I let customer requests guide the project and then a site visit when possible will usually direct me in what type of atmosphere I should give the space
Certain modern trends in architecture are also inexhaustible sources of inspiration, with timeless works that span over decades; I am thinking, among other things, of Bauhaus style interiors. Simple shapes with surprising items and pop of colors.
There is also no doubt that nature is an endless source! It offers us the most beautiful color combinations, shapes and the most surprising textures. There is no better duo than a yellow autumn leaf against the backdrop of an indigo sky.”
Q. Do you have a favorite decade in terms of design and trends?
ACG ” Many influences shaped my love for simple and rectilinear forms from, Minimalism and the modern movement, to the simplicity of Mies Van Der Rohe and Walter Gropius to finally the most important to me; Le Corbusier and his ‘Villas Blances’ era.
I like modern and timeless materials. Because we design a project for someone else, in that case a client, I don’t tend to follow particular trends but I make sure that the design lasts in time. I therefore prefer to use neutral tones and raw materials already present in the space.
I don’t have a particular design signature, however, I am really drawn to black and white. Black and white is light and shadow, it’s a contrast that brings out textures. These are the most neutral canvases that make it possible to highlight environments with more impact. What I like is the integration of a “punch“, an element that breaks up the black and white and that brings energy and surprises the visitor.”
While laughing she adds – “It’s like my shoes with pink parrots on them, I can only wear this if the rest of the outfit is neutral! It’s the same thing with design.”
Q. What is the most significant project that you have done at LemayMichaud?
ACG ” This is a difficult choice because each project has its own charm!
I would say, spontaneously, the Hotel La Ferme which is now Le Germain Charlevoix. It was very early in my career and I learned a lot from it. It was a project so intertwined with its location, Baie-St-Paul, and its Quebec roots, that it allowed us to have the opportunity to revisit our entire History within the project. We also worked a lot with local artisans. Each building featured a different concept. So this hotel required a great deal of creativity!
Then, the Simons in Gatineau. We are incredibly lucky to have built a great trust relationship of with the client. We had latitude in the design proposals. Each Simons store is made up of several sub-departments, and there are a multitude of atmospheres to create for different clienteles, while respecting a narrative thread. It was a nice challenge to imagine the visitors shopping sequence, and to work with innovative materials to give them a reinvented shopping experience.”
Q. What kind of co-worker are you?
ACG ” I try to be easy-going and welcoming. The atmosphere is lightened and the work becomes much more pleasant when done with joy and humour. On the other hand, even though I like to laugh and joke, I can be intransigent when it comes to the projects and I don’t hesitate to defend my ideas so that the result meets the client’s expectations.
As my colleagues know, I like things that are out of the ordinary, wether it’s objects, personalities or even ideas. I would say that nonconformism pushes me to go further in my reflections; I like to go elsewhere, to explore beyond what has been done. Sometimes, I surprise my colleagues both with my design proposals and my fashion style (laughs). ”
FLASH Q/A WITH ANNIE-CLAUDE GILBERT
Develop or create? Create
Dreamer or realist? Dreamer
Favorite part of your job? The creative process
What makes you want to wake up in the morning? Coffee, chocolate, sun, family, friends. I can’t say Diego (her parrot) I wouldn’t want to be judged, so I’ll finish with Learn, Innovate, Share, Laugh.
Do you have a philosophy that guides you today? I believe in authenticity and simplicity. We can accomplish as much or even more with a laughter and joy being around.
What achievement are you most proud of? To have a great relationship with my family!
Black and white or color? Black and white but always with a punch!
Mies van der Rohe or Frank Gehrry? Definitely Mies Van der Rohe but I salute Frank Gehrry’s boldness.
What work would you like to be the creator of? All the works of the painter Pierre Soulages move me deeply.