Friday, April 8, 2011

Erica Islas Good Shepherd Interview

Good Shepherd Center Interview of the Week: ERICA ISLAS

Erica Islas is the founder and principal designer at EMI Interior Design, Inc., a full service interior design &build firm in Los Angeles, started in 2000.

A modernist at heart, Erica’s interiors are timeless and fun. Her incredible use of color and creative space planning is what attracts her clientele & keeps them coming back for more. “Form follows function” is Erica's guiding philosophy. She approaches every project from an architectural perspective, never sacrificing usability and comfort. Her interiors are innovative, inviting and ultimately functional.

Known for her incredible kitchens and bathroom renovations, challenges such as small spaces and children's rooms are welcome and embraced by Erica and her staff, as they creatively transform some of the smallest most unusable spaces to multi-functional rooms. Erica is committed to using sustainable materials, wherever possible.

Erica has been featured on HGTV and is currently featured on HGTV's designer portfolio. Her pro-bono work has appeared in Nesting Newbies & The Los Angeles Times. She has also been featured in Real Simple Magazine, Standard Magazine, amongst other online articles.

We were very excited when Erica took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about why she choose to join the Good Shepherd Center Design Project.

TP: How did you hear about the GS Design Project?

EI: Through being a member of the DNG

TP: Why did you choose to design a room?

EI: My experience last year with UBH was fulfilling and rewarding. I feel blessed that I can give back in such a way. I love our Los Angeles Design community and coming together to work on shelter projects to help those individuals who want to get back on their feet.

TP: What do you think the biggest challenge of the project will be?

EI: I would say the challenge on the project will be the size of the room. But I love to space plan and make even the smallest room be multi-functional and inviting.

TP: Do you have an inspirational photo for this project?

EI: Yes, in my head! My idea is to design a room that is inviting and uplifting. Using natural colors, textures and lot’s of layers. A room that will make the woman staying in it feel safe and feel great about herself. If the tiny room feels like a home and not just a room, then I have done my job.

TP: What are you most looking forward to with the project?

EI: I look forward to creating a warm sophisticated space for someone to feel happy and safe in.

TP: All the rooms at Good Shepherd are dorm size, what advice or tip do you have for someone decorating a space this small?

EI: My advice for anyone decorating a small room is to look for pieces which can be multi-functional. Also keep furniture light and airy. Find a home for everything. Clutter can make small spaces look even smaller, so creative storage is important.

TP: What are some of the challenges in doing a project like this?

EI: Well, the UBH Family Shelter in particular was a challenge in that we were working in the rain, without power/electricity and construction schedule was running behind.So by the time we were allowed into rooms, it was major crunch time! But it was so much fun! All the designers came together, shared their extension cords, man power, donations, it was a wonderful experience and brought us all closer together. I have the up-most respect for everyone involved. We provided bedding, utensils, plates, furniture, art, accessories and much more for four families for an entire Year! That was a lot of work and donations, and I was really proud to have been part of that. It’s hard to think about these projects as a challenge, when you think about whom you are designing these rooms for. The reality is, it’s their lives that are a challenge and it’s humbling to be able to design a room for them, I know that anything we do for them would make their lives much better and bring them hope. It’s great to see there are places like the Good Shepherd and UBH who provide shelter and services for these women and help them get back on their feet. And so it is my honor and pleasure to provide my services as well.

TP: What have you learned, not only about design but about yourself from doing a project like this?

EI: What I found most interesting was how many of my vendors, friends and family all wanted to help. It was really great to have such a huge support system. The room I did at UBH in 2010 would not have been possible without everyone’s help and donations and I was very thankful.


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