Christiane Lemieux has been a prominent fixture in the design world going on two decades since she founded lifestyle brand DwellStudio in 2000. After 13 successful years, she sold the business to Wayfair in 2013, remaining on as Wayfair’s Executive Creative Director until 2016. The Parsons grad has written two books, Undecorate and The Finer Things, as well as contributing to Architectural Digest, Apartment Therapy, Editor At Large, and more. The entrepreneur then brought her expertise to television co-hosting and judging “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” a furniture design competition show on HGTV. Just recently, Lemieux launched a new venture – The Inside – an online, direct-to-consumer furniture brand that makes fashion-forward upholstery more accessible. This month’s Where I Work visits Lemieux in her 2,800-square-foot studio in Tribeca’s design district to see where she creates.
What is your typical work style?
My workspace is wherever I can be on my phone or laptop. When I have a big project I love to set aside time at the office but am juggling so many things, work is wherever I am. I often hop on calls in transit or send emails on the go. Prioritizing time with my kids is really important to me, so I make sure not to have anything scheduled so I can pick them up from school – and then get back to it at home while they do homework! So mostly I am working from home at off hours.
What’s your studio/work environment like?
I love a calm, clean space but one that is also very inspiring. Being surrounded by my team is where the best ideas happen, so I love that we are all in one office around a long table together. We love having an organized space that fosters creativity – so there are swatches of our latest collabs out, inspiration boards, art and design books so inspiration is always within reach.
How is your space organized/arranged?
At The Inside we work in an open atelier style – basically a long desk where we all sit together. This allows for free-flow creative sessions with is essential to start-up life! We have our own office area that is a part of a co-working space, so if we need to mix it up we head to the cafe where they are always mixing up fresh snacks and drinks which is a plus.
If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?
The office is everywhere, so I wouldn’t change a thing!
Is there an office pet?
I have 2 kittens at home that get into everything especially the keyboard!
Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?
We use Alexa and all call out favorites. It gets eclectic fast!
How do you record ideas?
On Trello the stack rank tool.
Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?
Yes, I am always taking and gathering inspiration for our new collections, I work closely with our head designer, Danielle, to hone in on the next trends for The Inside and we have a pin board together as a tangible working point for what is coming up!
What is your creative process and/or creative workflow like? Does it change every project or do you keep it the same?
As a constant student of design, I am continually inspired by the industry and designers pushing boundaries around the world. Research is a big part of my process, one glance through my Instagram feed and you can see the trends I am interested in and I love taking inspiration from great design minds. My research constantly feeds into all of my various projects – whether it is work for The Inside, books I am writing or for future projects I am dreaming of.
What kind of art/design/objects might you have scattered about the space?
I have collected a trove of design resources we keep in the office – from design books, art books, color swatches and fabric collection – our own swatches, vintage objects, really anything inspiring and design related to help push our creative processes.
Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?
Our favorite tool in our office is our Cricut. We use it all the time to make folders with die-cuts.
What tool(s) do you most enjoy using in the design process?
We sketch and pin up mostly. We pin up digitally too.
Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.
The thing about the new office is everything is in the cloud or wireless. We have cellphones, computers and a wireless printer. That is it. We are mobile and can work from anywhere at anytime.
What design software do you use, if any, and for what?
We use the whole Adobe suite.
Is there a favorite project/piece you’ve worked on?
I am so excited about the new Christene Barberich collection! Her vintage aesthetic mixed with craft inspiration was a really fun vision to work with and I have long admired her as an entrepreneur and force in the fashion industry.
Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?
Part of being an entrepreneur is never feeling settled or like I have finally “made it”, when I get too comfortable my wheels immediately start turning to the next project I can start or how I can push where I am. Working hard and putting a good team around is how you get your best work.
Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?
We just finished our first round of funding which is the project I am most proud of currently! Excited to grow the business – expand the team, delve into new collaborations and partnerships and push the boundaries of what The Inside can offer our customers – which is and always will be, exciting design at prices that don’t make you fall off your chair. My goal is truly to make great design accessible to the masses so basic beige is not the only option, and am thrilled to see where this year takes The Inside toward that goal.
What’s on your desk right now?
My laptop, water, my iPhone and sunglasses and a stack of expenses for my accountant.
Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?
All of it. From the ground up! This is my second home company so I have that covered. Next time I am going to start a fashion brand because I could use some better clothes :)