We’re living in a world that’s fast and easy, and it’s only continuing to speed up. We’ve all gotten used to on-demand streaming and next-day shipping at the click of a button. The desire for instant gratification in our home lives grows with every seemingly instantaneous makeover on social media and television, delivered with remarkable turn-key reveals (and shot with even more impressive camera angles). I, however, prefer my interior design process to be slow and complex. After all, there’s something so much more comforting and satisfying about a soup that’s simmered on the stove all day — wafting scents of anticipation through the home and taking real work to produce — than the easy, greasy burger you picked up without even getting out of your car. With slow and complex, trust me, the results are worth it.
Refining My Interior Design Process (Slowly, I Might Add)
Early in my interior design journey, I began figuring out what type of design work I wanted to do, for whom I wanted to do it, and how I wanted to execute the process. I started my career in New York City, where “everyone” had an interior designer. Jobs were easy to come by, and connections were easy to grow. I had designer friends maxed out with work sending me amazing jobs for Flatiron District lofts and Nantucket second homes. It was a whole other story when I left New York for Austin. I had to start over, taking projects as they came, mostly through my new network of fellow preschool parents.
As my Austin interior design studio and expertise grew, I landed bigger and better jobs, allowing me to work on positioning and marketing with business advisors and consultants. All of the prep work and vegetable chopping was done, and the soup was now really starting to intensify as I determined who I wanted to work with and what types of projects best suited my method.
I’ve worked with many types of interior design clients through the years and have invested in research to learn which type is the best fit for our firm. Our client understands that good things take time. They know anything worth doing doesn’t happen quickly. The work we do is not easy and fast. Our interior design process is layered, thoughtful, and nuanced, with each phase building on what comes before.
The Rise of Slow Design in a Fast World
The Design Dictionary by the Board of International Research in Design defines slow design as an approach that encourages a more considered and reflective process with the goal of positive well-being. Similar to the slow food movement, slow design positions itself against “fast design,” which employs short trend cycles, cheap prices, and unsustainable production. Other advocates of slow design, like the Slow Living Journal, add that curating a “slow home” should follow the principles of revealing the source of materials, expanding on object meanings, reflecting on what you need, engaging and participating in the process, and evolving alongside the home.
I see these aspects in my own design process. I work alongside clients to truly understand what’s most meaningful to them outside of the latest trend to curate objects of value that enhance their home lives. It’s a layered process that our clients come to enjoy. After clients have lived with their nuanced, beautiful rooms, some find they want even more layers, and call our team to continue the careful, deliberate process.
Good Design is Like Good Soup
Years ago, my sister bought me The Soup Peddler’s Slow and Difficult Soups by Austin Chef David Ansel. In it, he talks about his own slow and complex process as well as the slow food movement. The idea of slow food is creating something that not only sustains but also nourishes. I value his lesson to appreciate the time it takes to create, and I have kept it top of mind for all these years. Good things take time. Creative people need space to do their best work, and quality work takes time to produce. As our clients know and appreciate, the end result is well worth it.
Knowing Your Process and Expertise
After 27 years honing my skills at three New York City design firms, moving to Austin with my young family, founding Amity Worrel & Co., and growing it into what it is today, I have developed a strong sense of what my team and I do best and with whom we are a good fit.
Our interior design expertise is high-end residential design and decorating, focusing on historic and period homes in central Austin, with occasional jobs on the East and West Coasts. (I always joke that I won’t drive far for a job, but I am happy to fly!) Our focus is narrow but deep. We work with clients who understand the time it takes to create a beautiful, functional, and layered home design. While our projects are always as distinct as the clients we serve, our process is tried and true, slow and complex.
Each project is unique and comes with its own set of challenges, but our process and expertise lead us with confidence to find the solution. The right solution might take time to figure out, but we’ve done it time and time again. Like a good soup base, the process never gets boring. While the structure stays the same, the players and ingredients change to shake things up. You have new clients, new tastes, new locations, and always new challenges.
Good design is my kind of comfort food.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.