January 2019
Appreciating the Designers Role in the Process!
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Happy New Year from all of us at Best & Company! We hope you had a lovely holiday season and are just as excited as we are for a spectacular 2019! In 2018 we had, and continue to have, the pleasure of working with talented designer Ariel Okin. Ariel designs luxury residential and unique commercial properties, and in addition is a contributing writer for Vogue.com, Architectural Digest and Domino Magazine. Interior Designers, and project architects, play a monumental role in the success of a project. We are a team working together to deliver a creative vision, and each of us play a vital role throughout the process to ensure success. We sat down with Ariel to find out not only where she draws her inspiration from, but to listen to her experiences with general contractors and learn what she looks for when recommending a company to her clients.

When did you first know you wanted to be a designer? 

I started designing on the side for friends while working at a day job in public affairs; I quickly realized it was a true passion of mine, and I started to get clients through word of mouth from friends of friends. Ultimately I ended up leaving my day job to open my own design firm about two years after I started designing on the side. 

What inspires you and where do you draw your inspiration from? 

I'm inspired a lot by nature; I love the way color palettes seem to happen organically with interesting textures woven in as well. I also find a lot of inspiration from the past; I collect vintage coffee table books by designers like Billy Baldwin and David Hicks. And there is such a well of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest – I am constantly finding beautiful new images and inspiration from my peers on social.

What is your favorite job you have completed? 

One of the first larger jobs I did was a duplex pied a terre on Park Avenue in the 80's. The client really trusted my vision and was an absolute joy to work with; we still keep in touch to this day and meet for lunch whenever she is in town! I also recently designed the offices for Maisonette, a luxury e-commerce site for children - that was a really fun one! 

What has been your biggest learning experience in the industry? 

I didn't go to school for interior design or architecture (I was a Journalism and English major!) so I feel like I am constantly seeking new technical information and learning new things every day. Going through my first gut renovation project with Chip and Chad was an amazing experience where I learned a lot about the A to Z's of construction.

What has been your hardest design challenge?

Working on a show house – that time crunch is no joke!

What do you look for in a General Contractor? 

Trustworthiness, follow through, and appreciation of the designers role in the process.

What has been a negative experience you have had with a General Contractor and how did you get through the challenge to ensure a happy client and successful project?

I once worked with a contractor who botched a large scale high lacquer paint job. Needless to say, that was not fun, but I ended up finding a great painter to fix it - luckily! 

What is the best experience you have had with a General Contractor, and why?

I recently completed my room at Holiday House with Best & Co, and the entire team could not have been more generous or helpful! They helped me get the room done in a serious 48 hour time crunch! Not every GC respects the boundaries of design vs. contracting; I appreciate that Best & Co allows the designer to take creative control. 

Top 3 traits you advise clients to look for when hiring a General Contractor?

Go with your gut instinct, be sure they are in your budget, do your homework on reviews and word of mouth referrals.