Designer Profile: An Interview with Claudia Juestel

Our first interview for the Designer Series is the incredibly talented Claudia Juestel!  I'm thrilled she's a part of this series so early on.

Claudia is the owner and principal designer of Adeeni Design Group, a full-service design firm based in San Francisco.  Her warm, transitional style (and gorgeous lighting selections) are what first drew me to her work, and it is no wonder she's so well regarded for her design and charitable affiliations.  Born in Austria to a family of creative minds,  her work experience prior to starting Adeeni Design Group includes Ralph Lauren and Candra Scott & Anderson.  Read on to learn more about Claudia's personal design philosophy, sources of inspiration and just how many amazing hotels she's visited!  I envy her work and travel schedule!

Photo credit: Kee Photography 
When did you know you were destined for a career in interior design?
Although I always drew interiors and furnishings when I was little and rearranged furniture in my room and those of friends, I wanted to be an artist and fashion designer.  As a teenager I also helped my parents with remodeling their hotel and restaurants, installing tile and wall covering, doing upholstery and painting designs on furniture, I still never thought that I would become an interior designer, as that was not really a profession in Austria.  Once I graduated from art school and started helping friends with designing a couple of retail stores I found my calling.  

What was your first big design break?
I was working at Ralph Lauren, and a client from Canada asked me to furnish their Palms Springs vacation home. 
Photo Credit: Cesar Rubio
Photo credit: Adeeni Design Group
Tell us about your first job in the design field.
After working for Ralph Lauren I worked for Candra Scott & Anderson, a hospitality design firm that specializes in historic restoration.  There I was able to make use of my hospitality background in addition to contributing my creative skills.

Photo credit: Verité
Photo credit: Adeeni Design Group
What's inspiring you right now?
My inspirations comes first from the client and second from the architecture and surroundings of the home. This remains the same no matter what the trends.  That is why our work is quite varied. 

Photo credit: Crystal Shafer
Where are your favourite places to shop?
It all depends on the project.  For a rustic country look I love the Brimfield Antique Show and the Heart of Country Show here in the US, as well as antique stores throughout the countryside in Austria, the Paris flea markets and L’Isle sur la Sorgue.  For Biedermeier,  Austrian turn-of-the-century antiques and art I love the Dorotheum in Vienna.  For 20th century furnishings I go to 1stdibs, which connects me to countless dealers.  For pieces we custom-design we work with local craftsmen and manufacturers all over the world, including India, Nepal, Morocco, Syria,  Austria, Slovenia, and Italy.  We go wherever they do the best work for something particular.

What is your design philosophy?
I am passionate about creating unique enduring interiors that stand the test of time and are a true reflection of their owners’ personalities.  As a result we work in a variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary and rustic to elegant.  It is our belief that designers can break away from a “signature” style where the approach is more that of a set designer resulting in each project being its own original piece of art, created in close collaboration with our clients.  We take everything into consideration from the architecture to the landscape and surroundings of the home, aiming to create a seamless flow for our clients between design, lifestyle and the environment.

Photo Credit: Kee Photography
Photo credit: Adeeni Design Group
What is your most memorable travel destination?
I love traveling to exotic places, and I had the opportunity to visit India twice.  Since it is such a large country it will take many more visits to experience all of its variety.

Do you have a favourite hotel?  
I am a hotel junkie given my upbringing.  Combine that with a love for design, and I would have to say that I like more than one hotel.  In India my favorites are Rambagh Palace in Jaipur and the Lake Palace in Udaipur for their historic splendor and the contemporary Udaivilas in Udaipur and Amarvilas in Agra for recreating that magical feel of the Maharajas with a more modern feel.  All of them have exceptional service.   In Bangkok I like the Sukhothai for its modern Asian design. In Europe some of my favorites are the Hotel Costes in Paris, the Château Eza in Èze and La Colombe d’Or in Saint Paul de Vence.   In the US my top hotels include the Setai in Miami, the Peninsula in New York and Beverly Hills, the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur and the Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford.  Hotels I have been wanting to visit are the Savoy in London, Le Sirenuse in Positano, Le Royal Mansour and La Mammounia in Marrakech, the Centurion Palace in Venice, the Soho House in Berlin, the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona, De La Paix in Siem Riep, and many of the Aman Resorts.  I could go on..... 

Photo credit: Marc Angelo Ramos

What is your preferred room to decorate/design in a home?
What can I say, I love all my children.  The rooms where we can be the most creative, have the most impact and create the most vow effect are my favorite.  That does not mean that the room has to be over the top dramatic, but it has to hit the senses.  

Photo credit: Cesar Rubio
Do you have a favourite project to date?
I had the opportunity to design a man cave and wine cellar in the basement of an Italianate 19th century mansion.  With the assistance of an engineer we excavated 80% of the space and created a staircase with hidden trap door, a barrel-ceiling hallway, a sitting room, a wine cellar and powder room with an aesthetic goal of it having always been there.  

What are your "best practices" for accessorizing a room?
Make it personal.  A home should reflect its owner, not its designer.  However, a good designer can help achieve personality with sophistication.

Photo credit: Crystal Shafer
What's the biggest design risk you've taken?
Snatching up a valuable antique from another buyer without the client’s approval.  It could have become very expensive inventory, but thankfully they loved it!  It is important to know the client’s taste well when not having the time to get their input.  Aesthetic risks are never risks if you know the client and know good design.

  Photo credit: Crystal Shafer
What has been the greatest lesson since opening your business?
It is much more about being organized and being a good communicator than about good design.  The latter is a mere basis for success.  
Photo credit: Crystal Shafer
Photo credit: Crystal Shafer
What's next for you?
More writing, designing more beautiful homes, doing more commercial projects and starting up again with building a new hotel chain in India in my position as the Creative Director. 

 A huge thank you to Claudia for this great interview and for being a part of this series!   

Be sure to check back next Monday for another Designer Profile!


    David Goldberg Design Wallpaper

    I'm crazy for this beautiful new David Goldberg Design wallpaper collection...



    In a time before Ikea...

    Isn't it a horrible thought?  As much as I sometimes put my nose in the air about the finest walnut buffet or delicate crystal chandelier, it's a thought I can only afford to have from 10 to 6.  After I've devoured each page of Veranda, its back to rifling through flyers on the kitchen table, hoping for something I can actually get my hands on.  See: IKEA.

    My thought process on Ikea goes something like this...
    Ikea = Swedish
    Sweden = Beautiful people, even more beautiful design
    Beautiful Swedish design = Minimalist, colourful
    ...and now, Colourful, Simplistic Swedish Design = Josef Frank

    I'm embarrassed to admit that I just discovered the brilliant work of architect Josef Frank last week.  Apparently Google even did a Josef Frank 125th Birthday tribute to him last July.  I'm pretty sure I used Google 287 times that day (as usual), so I'm not sure how I missed that...

    The creative mind of Josef Frank designed far more than buildings.  In his 81 years, he created wallpaper, fabric, furnishings, furniture and carpet.  But why am I telling you this?  Pretty sure everyone knew but me. 

    Josef Frank's wallpaper designs: 

    Josef Frank's fabric designs (again, where have I been?):

    A few of my favourite Josef Frank furniture pieces:

    I'm not sure I could ever a choose a favourite of these toss cushions...

    Most importantly, a place to purchase his work:
    Just Scandinavian (Tribeca, NY)
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