Amy Aidinis Hirsch is passionate about her job as an interior designer because it allows her to create beautiful spaces to suit her clients’ lifestyles. In this interview, she discusses her design sense, where interior design is headed, and the value of and how to incorporate antiques into our homes.
MB: Why did you become an interior designer, and how did you get there?
AH: I have always had a passion for it. I just love my job, because it allows me to create amazing interiors for clients—really palettes for their lifestyles. And every job is different, challenging, and rewarding.
I grew up in Greenwich surrounded by a lot of hard-working, supportive family. I studied interior design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and upon graduation immediately started doing internships. I was lucky to work with some of Architectural Digest’s top 100 design firms, including Rinfret, Ltd, in Greenwich. In 2007, I started my own company, Amy Aidinis Hirsch Interior Design (www.aahirsch.com), based Old Greenwich.
In 2012, I was honored to be chosen by New England Home magazine as one of 5 top emerging designers under age 40. My work is the result of collaboration among a number of talented individuals, who help me with interior design--I have 3 in-house design assistants--but also with my website and blog. We also work with an outside company for architectural drawings.
MB: How would you describe your design sense?
AH: My own style is traditional with a modern flair. As a designer, I don’t believe you need to reinvent the wheel, but to push the wheel. Various influences go into my designs. The foundation is the architecture of the house. The clients needs also drive the design, so I have to listen to them carefully. I like to ask husbands and wives separately about their style—what clothing items are their favorites, for example—to get a sense for what is comfortable to them. Some clients like to come shopping with me or find items on their own and ask me to incorporate them into the design. And that can be a challenge. I am also inspired by the things around me: I like pattern and geometry, but not everywhere. I look to nature and art. Even the crazy color palettes my 4- and 6-year old children come up with.
MB: In your blog, you identify six interior design trends for 2013: Brass; high-gloss lacquered walls; art; antique furniture; embellished walls; and lace. Let’s focus on antiques. What can they do for a room?
AH: Good interior design is always about the blending of old and new, and today’s top designers are using more antiques in their interiors. Antiques add nuance and something unexpected to a room. The contrast of a distressed piece in a modern or clean-lined setting really makes an impact. Homeowners today could literally select entire rooms from a catalog, and some of these rooms are done well. The result, however, is something formulaic and calculated. I tell my clients that we are not trying to have perfect rooms. But we do want these spaces to be comfortable and livable to all members of the family.
MB: How do homeowners blend antiques into their room? Are there rules?
AH: I came from a background of rules and formulas, but mixing styles is the norm today, and one has to be confident to do this right. If you are looking to incorporate antiques in your home, I would consider accessories, such as old boxes with great detailing, mirrors, side tables, and old benches, which are good for layering objects on. Scale and proportion are important to keep in mind when mixing old and new. As and example, I found a richly carved piece from the 1800s that once adorned a bar and knew it would be perfect as a console table in a client’s grand foyer. Because of its large scale, I had to find a mirror that was substantial enough to pair with it. The result is stunning. This also an example of how antiques can be repurposed to serve the homeowner’s needs.
One great advantage of going to a show like the Darien Antiques Show is that you can get a feel for the scale of a piece. Also, most dealers will let you take the item on preview to see if it works in the space.
MB: What about mixing woods? Is that okay?
AH: In general, I like to keep wood tones consistent. Something like zebra wood, however, mixes well with other woods.
MB: Is cost a factor in deciding whether to use an antique versus a reproduction in a room?
AH: I have found that antiques can be more reasonable than reproductions and can be easily sourced online and locally. Smaller shows like the Darien Antiques Show offer good quality at a range of prices, and you wind up with a unique piece with a history.
For more information on the Darien Antiques Show, which will run March 1-3, see Patch Events and www.darienantiqueshow.org.