Women in Interior Design: Spotlight on Stephanie Cohen
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting some of our favorite female interior designers. We recently talked with Stephanie Cohen, New York designer and owner of Stephanie Cohen Home, to learn more about her career thus far.
How did you get your start in interior design?
My plan throughout college had always been to go to law school. The semester was going to start around the time I was getting married, so I deferred for a year. By the time the next year rolled around, I had given birth to our first son, and once again, it didn’t seem like the right time for law school.
Around that same time, my husband and I bought our first house. As soon as I started furnishing our home, I realized that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went back to school to study interior design and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
How would you describe your personal style?
The first three words that come to mind are feminine, contemporary, and glamour. I love mixing metals to bring depth to a room and mixing textures to bring in layers but in a clean and simple way.
When working on a project, where do you look for inspiration?
Some of my inspiration comes from what’s happening in the design world, particularly in Europe, as they tend to be about one year ahead of the United States, but more than anything, my inspiration comes from each individual client.
First, you have to consider who will be living in the space. Designing for a young couple in their first home is different than designing for an older family with teenagers. Then you have to determine their style preferences, like modern, classical, contemporary, etc. You also have to consider where their home is located. Modern in New York City is completely different than modern in Miami. Their environment dictates how far you go into their preferred genre.
This plays into what I consider to be one of the best parts of my job: the relationships I develop with my clients. By the end of any project, I’ve formed genuine friendships with my clients because of the strong relationship that develops while getting to know them and what they like.
Who are the women you look up to in your life and career?
There are those iconic designers that pioneer things in design like, the Kelly Wearstlers of the world. They do things that are so outside the box, so up-to-date and relevant.
However, in every aspect of my life, including my design career, my mom is my role model. Everything she does is done with love, passion, and kindness. She is thoughtful and ambitious, and I carry that mindset into everything I do, whether in my career or how I live life with my family and friends.
What makes interior design a special industry for women?
This is an industry in which women aren’t held back in any way. There is a lot of trust and respect for the women that are in this line of work. I feel fortunate because I know this is not the norm for many industries. Women in this field truly get to be who they are and not feel second to anyone.
How have you maintained the balance of being a mom of three while also being a successful interior designer?
I have a few rules that I live by: I try to never leave work frustrated or angry, and when I get home, I walk in the door happy and calm. I also think my genuine passion for the job has shown my sons how important it is to love what you do.
It must have been a positive experience for my kids because two of my sons have decided to join the business! They are in the process of developing a line that is geared towards a younger demographic, with a completely different audience and philosophy. They work in the store doing everything I do, but they’re also carving out their own niche. I guess you can call us “The Furniture Family.”
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring interior designer?
Do it. It’s the best decision that you’ll ever make. I teach a class at a local design school and I like to tell my students that this industry is special because the people that come to you are happy. They’re young and they’ve just bought a home, or they’re a bit older and looking to recreate their space, or maybe they’re retired and looking to get a second home.
Regardless of their circumstances, when people come to you, they’re asking your help to better their lives. Every day, I work with people who are as excited as I am about designing their space. I feel privileged to do what I love, creating beautiful things for clients who often become my friends.