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Where I Work: Ghislaine & Jaime Viñas

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This Where I Work should actually be called ‘Where We Work’ because this month we focus on Ghislaine & Jaime Viñas, a couple with different design backgrounds that come together to work within the same space. The duo shares a live/work loft in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood that keeps them dialed into work at a moment’s notice, which I’m sure has its plusses and minuses. Ghislaine established Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design in 1999, and has consistently produced a roster of jaw-dropping residences most of us would kill to live in for at least one night (Remember this house in Los Angeles?!). Jaime keeps busy with his own successful graphic design career while also collaborating with Ghislaine on various projects. Let’s take a look into the world of this creative pair.

What is your typical work style?

Jaime Viñas (JV): I guess I would describe it as organic/collaborative. I’m more methodical about how I go about solving a problem. Ghislaine is more impulsive. Somehow we make it work.

Ghislaine Viñas (GV): I’m usually working on a lot of projects at one time and I like it that way. Currently, we are working on about 10 projects which are at various stages of the design process which means I am usually jumping from one project to the next. I love working with my design team on the various projects. I have a pretty short attention span and get bored quickly so this works pretty well for me. Jaime is a graphic designer and I do interiors, but we are always collaborating. The wallpapers we did for Flavor Paper were a collaborative effort and he often pulls me into his projects.

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What’s your studio environment like?

JV: As we have a live/work space, our environment is comfortable, relaxed, and functional. We work hard and like to have fun too.

GV: Our loft in TriBeCa is a bright white space with big windows overlooking the Hudson River. A client came in for a meeting last week and said it felt like he was on a cruise ship looking out onto the river. That made me smile because it does actually feel like that. We have a relaxed work environment and although we work hard, we also laugh very hard, too. There are always daily situations that have us all laughing. There is a lot of banter around the office and we have a really lovely atmosphere, which I think is really important.

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How is your office organized/arranged?

JV: The main open work space is fair game. You can pick up your computer and go sit anywhere you like.

GV: The designers work in an alcove which opens up to the open loft space or at a long 15-foot table that is in the open space in the loft. There is a sectional sofa people can sit and work at, and there is also a large banquette area where we have meetings with larger crowds or have lunches. My team gathers around my desk a lot and we spread things out and all work through projects together.

How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

JV: 20 years. 13 in the Flatiron District.

GV: I’ve always run my business out of this space – I’ve been in the space for 24 years but had my business here for about 15 years.

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If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

JV: Create more storage and private work spaces.

GV: There are times that I love the live/work aspect of our space because I get to see my 2 girls Mia and Saskia when they come home from school every day and it’s so convenient in the mornings, but on the flip side, it means that I am always connected to my work, which can be stressful. It’s nice to get a reprieve sometimes, but work is always staring me in the face. We also don’t have a private conference room so if I need to have a private meeting, we go to a coffee shop around the corner. For now, the pros outweigh the cons.

Is there an office pet?

JV: No furry friends in the office.

GV: No – that would be cute but there’s enough going on.

How do you record ideas?

JV: Pencil, paper, and iPhone.

GV: I use Pinterest to keep track of ideas. It’s been such an amazing tool for me to keep all those random ideas in one place. Most of my boards are secret and only shared with my staff but we have plenty of public boards where we love to share the things that interest and excite us.

Flavor Paper designs

Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?

JV: I like to keep reminders of upcoming events on our board as well as mementos of trips. A Kehinde Wiley exhibit postcard. Postcards from the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art.

GV: I have a big board behind my desk – I have samples of our new line of wallpapers for Flavor Paper on it in all their colorways. I’m really proud of that collection. I also started to explore patterns and have about 30 patterns on the board that I end up referring to often. I also have a couple of photos of my girls and some things my husband Jaime has made for me. My board is very personal and always changing.

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What kind of objects might you have scattered about the space?

JV: I collect letterforms, and we have artwork and interesting objects we find in our travels. By the window, we have a ‘nest’ made up of styrofoam packing material by Hariri & Hariri from a Design for Public Trust auction. And we have quite a few pieces by the talented Francois Chambard.

GV: I have lots of little vignettes set up around the office – a naked baby doll riding a polar bear, a tiny pink flamingo on a heart that my daughter made out of clay. We keep the office super organized which is really important to me but there are things around that are fun and quirky.

Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?

JV: Apple computers. Camera.

GV: A wicked Nespresso machine.

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What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

JV: I recently started using a Pencil from 53 on their Paper App on my iPad. It’s an intuitive way to sketch ideas.

GV: I rely on my fabric samples a lot as a way to work through the design process. I am driven by my love for color so I use the swatches like color chips. I always have trays of fabrics that I like that I can grab easily and work with.

Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.

JV: I wouldn’t refer to our equipment as ‘an arsenal’. It’s fairly conventional. We all use Apple laptops, so it’s easy to have a meeting anywhere in our space. A Mac Mini server keeps our files centralized, and two printers help to review our work. With an AppleTV we can AirPlay mirror our work to an LCD screen. This is very helpful for client presentations. As an avid photographer, I use a full frame sensor mirror-less camera and assorted camera gear.

GV: I am not a techie person at all, but I can’t live without my iPhone, iPad, and my laptop. I have however surrounded myself with people who are. Jaime is my go-to-guy and he is always there to help and assist me when I am in a crisis, which is usually a couple times a month!

What design software do you use, if any, and for what?

JV: Adobe Illustrator, In-Design & Photoshop are today’s de facto tools for executing your ideas. The designers use Vectorworks and SketchUp. For photography I depend on Bridge and Aperture.

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Do you have a favorite project or collection that your company has made?

JV: We recently launched our first line of wallpaper in collaboration with Flavor Paper: Mock Rock and Tit-for-Tatt are their names.

GV: I love our papers for Flavor Paper, which came out pretty recently. It’s our first little collection but it something we plan to do a lot more of. Jaime and I collaborated on the collection which makes it very special to me. Jaime’s cousin Xavier Viñas worked with us on the artwork so it was a real family affair. I also collaborated with Brad Ascalon on a line of furniture for Loll which rolled out in May during ICFF.

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Do you feel like you’ve “made it?” What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstance?

JV: What is success? For me, it’s to be able to do the work I enjoy. Collaborating with talented individuals, and being supported by a community of peers. The occasional recognition by the industry is always nice, and having intelligent and thoughtful clients makes it all possible. Being able to choose what projects we work on or not. That’s priceless.

GV: I never really even imagined I would have a career so I had no expectations, but I’ve definitely accomplished more than I ever thought. I do feel proud to be recognized for my work in this industry and especially in a city like NYC. I pinch myself often and smile, but I won’t rest on my laurels…I am very aware that I still have so much to learn. I remember that the first time that I was published was a moment that I felt like I had made it. Cindy Allen published me in Interior Design magazine and I was so incredibly thrilled to see my work in print.

Tell us about a recent project you worked on. What was the inspiration behind it?

JV: The table we did for the DIFFA event. The design was inspired by the Memphis movement and was designed and completed in record time. We were glad to collaborate with HBF Textiles, and the booth was beautifully built by Manhattan Renovations.

GV: We are working on a residential project in Montauk for a client we have done about 7 or 8 projects for. She’s become one of my closest friends and I adore her. We have so much fun working together. We are calling the project Floritauk because we are taking vintage Floridian inspiration and combining it with a laid back beach style you might expect to find in Montauk.

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What’s on your desk right now?

JV: A cup of coffee, always. My Tintin ‘Destination Moon’ replica rocket. The stapler my dad used to have in his office. Vintage yellow table lamp. iPhone.

GV: A water bottle – I’m trying to drink as much water as I can. I also have notes for a lecture I am giving at Parsons and a stack of fabrics that are bright and cheery.

Do you use any of your pieces/designs in your own home/life?

JV: We eat, drink and breathe design 24/7. Our home/office is where we experiment with ideas that later get implemented in our projects.

GV: I actually have our wallpaper in both my loft and country house are full of color and good, fun energy.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.