Say My Name
Pintura - 152.4 x 193 x 6.4 cm
Dive into the interior design of Ariel Magidson's loft space
Ariel Magidson is the founder of the interior design firm Ariel Arts Studio, located in San Francisco. With a background in behavioral science and interior design, Ariel Magidson is a firm believer in designing a space for each individual. Setting aside personal aesthetic preferences, her designs are tailored to the specific needs of the client. Her truly functional designs, however, do not compromise on beauty. Another key feature of her design is her ecological awareness. Her motto: sustainable design for all. Take a look at her home tour and find out more in our interview!
1. Hello Ariel! How would you describe your interior design style and where do you draw your inspiration from at the start of a design project?
My style is very much defined by not having a "style". When I was working in commercial design, I didn't have the opportunity to present my personal style within the design. Design was entirely based on the client and their brand. I apply that same principle with residential design today. The most important thing to me is function - how the design works for and with the client and making it possible to change with them in the future. The style doesn't matter as much; it's about the concept for that person or family and their needs. I draw my inspiration from the beginning of each process from the client themselves. I begin with a client interview and get to know them on a deeply personal level. It's a really intimate experience actually because we talk about how they live their lives when no one else is around. I ask a lot of questions about habits, moods, frustrations, and what they want to get out of their homes. I especially focus on the emotional tie they have to the spaces we're working on. From there, I find my inspiration in the process of bringing their dreams to reality.
A glimpse into the warm interiors Magidson designs amongst the urban landscape
2. What have been some of your favorite past projects?
It's so hard to pick because I love all of my clients and their projects so much! But if I have to pick, I would say that I love projects with unexpected layouts and surprising elements. Unexpected layouts come from open concepts, oddly shaped rooms, or just that weird corner you thought nothing could be done to. I love showing clients that a sofa doesn't have to be against a wall - it can be in the middle of the room - or a table can be against a wall. In one of the projects we featured on the website ( The Cool Mom Burbs), the clients came to us unsure how to manage homework and working from home. Like so many others, they had been using the dining room, but missed being able to actually eat in the dining room. In the open concept space that ran into the living room, I repurposed a corner of the living room by a window for a beautiful home office space. It was out of the way, dedicated, and beautiful in a corner that no one had thought of using. In another project (see Franklin Renovation), the clients wanted to create a light and airy feel in their kitchen. They were surprised when I showed them a design with black cabinets! But the balance of dark and light really created the light and airy feeling they were seeking. The projects I really love most, though, are the ones where I hear back from my clients a few months later and they tell me how much more functional, livable, and usable their space is. Because that's what great design is really about.
3. On your website you talk about bridging the gap between art and design. What links can be established between art and design within your interiors?
Any design can be art - and should be. When I talk about bridging the gap between art and design, I don't mean it literally. Of course I incorporate artwork on the walls of my designs, but I mean something more abstract than that. I want the design to evoke emotions and experiences just like great art does. I bring plants into homes because they are nature's artwork and utilize sacred geometry often in my design work. I source products from places that are meaningful for my clients. A recent client of mine was designing her parents' retirement home. They immigrated from Haiti and it was really important to all of them that the home reflected that. So we brought artwork as well as furniture and decor from Haitian artisans.
4. Which artists or artistic movements serve as sources of inspiration to you?
I'm most inspired by abstract art, but also have a special place in my heart for the figurative movement, impressionism, and the Dada movement. I don't love literal things. To me, abstracts feel more meaningful and more emotional. One of my favorite pieces is Malevich's Black Square. It's just a square of black paint, but you can see so much in the cracks. I also love Diebenkorn, partly because he was based in the Bay Area, too. But his work was beautiful and emotional.
Attention to the detail is what Magidson does best in creating her clean decor
5. You're based in San Francisco - where are your favorite places to experience art in the city?
Art is everywhere in San Francisco! It's one of the things I love most about this city. Everywhere I look, I see art. The other day, I was walking my puppy Cairo right after a rainstorm and the street had become a canvas of pattern on a large scale from the water falling to the corners of the sidewalk squares. When I lived in the Mission district I'd get up early on Sunday mornings, grab a coffee and admire the beautiful murals and street art around me. Artwork is on pretty much every block & alleyway in the neighborhood. Each piece has a story to tell, and that's why I love art so much.
If I want to experience art in a more traditional way, aka a museum - my favorite spot is SFMOMA. I love the familiarity of the permanent exhibitions; there are pieces that are always there when I visit, and a few new ones too. They do a fabulous job with their special exhibitions. They feel very “now".. It reminds me a lot of the Whitney in New York, it feels very interactive. Although, that does completely make sense for the tech capital of the world. The combination of performing arts, mixed media, and new takes on traditional forms of art are very inspiring. This past year they worked with local communities in the bay area to create a Black Lives Matter exhibition. I really enjoyed learning as well as immersing myself in art and history all at once. The movement took place across the globe, and as we saw so many people rise to action, it was great to see young Black artists today making a difference in the art world right here in SF. I like seeing what artists are saying now & how that can translate into the future.
6. In your design blog you talk about the importance of sustainable design. How do you advise people to make the most environmentally responsible choices when it comes to their own interior?
I'll be honest, sustainable design can be expensive and seem out of reach. Although, it's just a few simple steps & it becomes a lot easier from there. First, we look to reduce waste. I encourage my clients to find pieces they can keep and incorporate into the new design. We also look for products that will last and suit the client's needs as long as possible so that they are not contributing to the astounding 12 million tons of furniture added every year to our landfills. Then, I focus on educating my clients and audience on where they can find sustainable products and what they should look for, such as Greenguard certifications, FSC wood, ethically sourced goods, & more. These kinds of labels are more common now. Target, for example, has a lot of products with these kinds of options. In some places you can even filter your search by sustainability. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that these products are 100% sustainable, but it's a step in the right direction. We have made a commitment at Ariel Arts to source 90% of products for our clients from these sustainable sources by 2022.
7. And finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to revamp their interior but is on a budget?
The most important thing in a space is that the people who inhabit it are happy and for this, it must be a harmonious, aesthetically pleasing and orderly space. Putting order in the space is easy but requires effort, especially cleaning. We must remove everything that does not make us happy, what hinders us and what does not cause us emotion. If we free up the space and get rid of what is not going, we will feel great peace and happiness. My advice is to be encouraged to clean and tidy up.
Break up the design of a room with geometric sculptures for added depth in your decor
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