Q&A with Chloé Valette, founder of Huskdesignblog
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Chloé Valette is the founder of Huskdesignblog, one of our favorite interior design, furniture and trends blogs. Maybe you’ve seen it? Her minimalist style and flawless aesthetic puts the spotlight firmly on the world’s most up-and-coming contemporary and avant-garde designers and her keen eye allows her to spot the most under the radar international trends.
Prior to starting her blog in Washington D.C., she worked as an interior designer in Paris, developing retail spaces for brands like Louis Vuitton. Since Husk, she has been nominated for the Amara Interior Blog Awards, created a beautiful series trends guides and is in the process of launching an online furniture store. Keep reading for our Q&A featuring this French design entrepreneur. See kriteria’s post in Husk about 12 contemporary Latin American design studios to watch.
Chloe, you started your career working in interior design, and then launched Husk about two years ago, why did you make the decision to start an interiors blog?
After living and working in Paris for many years, I had the opportunity to join my husband in the US, where he was studying business. I had never lived in a foreign country before, so I jumped at the chance! We had a very good time living there for almost three years, but, unfortunately, it was not possible for me to work due to a visa issue. So, I decided to start a blog, a project I could run from anywhere in the world and I knew would keep me active in the design world. In the end, the visa issue turned out to be for the best! I learned a lot from the American approach to work and managed to build a business.
Describe Husk in one sentence.
Huskdesignblog aims to support up and coming collectible furniture designers and contemporary interior designers, promoting their work to creative people who seek to be inspired and feed their minds.
Can you tell me what your experience was transitioning from interior design to design blogging?
Each day, I feel delighted to work in something I really like and believe in. When I worked in interior design, I always had to change my vision and unfortunately downgrade my ideas, haha! I know this is how it works, as it is a dialog with your client, but it was always very frustrating for me. With the blog, I'm finally highlighting things that I really love, and I feel like I have a mission to share them with the world, and that’s really rewarding.
Where did you develop your love for design?
I think it came to me little by little, at least the kind of collectible and contemporary design I'm currently sharing. It took me some time to develop my design values. I studied interior design so I’ve been in the business for 10 years now and I always had a great interest in product and furniture design. When I was younger, I thought this was too difficult to get into, or it was only for connoisseurs. Now I know that you have to become your own connoisseur, and if you have good taste and treat each designer’s projects well, people will trust you and become loyal readers.
What criteria do you use when selecting the designers you feature?
Well, it always starts with a little crush. I trust my guts regarding design. When I see something that gives me a good feeling, I know it’s something I need to share. I like when people are not afraid of big proportions, incredible colors or mixing materials. Please surprise me! My business is all about visual impact. I really, REALLY need powerful, quality pictures (I’m talking to the designers, haha!).
What are your favorite design fairs to visit?
I recommend going to Milan Design Week (of course), but also the London, New York and Dutch design weeks. For the fairs, I'd say Collectible (Brussels), Design Miami/ (in Miami but also Basel in Switzerland) and Kortrijk (Belgium).
What cities have you lived in and which is your favorite?
I lived and grew up in western France, in Paris, where I studied interior design and in Washington D.C. I do recommend D.C! This is not the best city for design but there is a such good quality of life.
Could you recommend a few resources for someone looking to get started in this industry?
If you mean starting a design website or blog - for whatever theme - you need to subscribe to a lot of influential website newsletters (Dezeen, Design Milk, etc) it sounds boring at first but this is where you learn how to write well and how to pick your first article ideas. Then, designers will hopefully start to send you their work directly :).
Also, go to as many design fairs and shows as possible, and give away a lot of business cards! Plus, do not be afraid to contact people for materials and free fair admission, because as soon as you start a website, you are the press.
In general, have a look at Google Webmaster Blog and HubSpot, because having good traffic is all about becoming a nerd, haha! Working hard on your SEO and backlinks will reward you for sure. Do not avoid this part, you have to become Google's best friend.
Use Pinterest, massively. Create pins that redirect to your website, and your website traffic will double! True story.
You recently came out with a trends guide, can you talk about a few of the current international trends you identified in it?
For the past 2 to 3 years, collectible design has gained popularity. For the 2018/2019 season, I noticed the following four visible trends:
Maximum Scale, which relates to a deep interest in exaggerated and bold proportions in furniture design and architecture;
Upcoming Upcycling, a true story about how recycling and upcycling will now be a part of design and how mentalities are evolving and integrating the notion of environmental preservation;
Alien Foresight focuses on the new types of extraterrestrial-like shapes emerging in collectible design; and finally,
All Anodized analyzes the return of anodized aluminum to interior and retail design, but also objects and furniture.
What comes to mind when you think of Latin American design? Any favorite designers from Latin America?
I'd like to learn more about it! I'm sure there are hundreds of independent designers in Latin America who deserve more exposure from people like us. I would love to meet more of them, and to discover their work. Hopefully one day, I'll have the chance to go to some Latin American design weeks!
Favorite designer ever?
Hard question. I've always been impressed by the pioneers, those who have stuck to their design ideas though their context or time period has tried to discourage them, just like Eileen Gray and Charles R. Mackintosh did. But since I'm sick of people only mentioning dead designers, I'd like to say that all young, contemporary designers are worth a look at and deserve interest from the public!
What is your favorite color?
None. My tastes are constantly evolving, depending on where I live, what I do. But right now, I like cream, camel and red tints pretty much.
Who is your ideal client as an interior designer?
In my dreams, my ideal client would be one that has the money, while trusting my tastes and knowledge, haha! But unless you're very famous, that type of customer does not exist. Apart from that, I'd love to start working on turnkey projects, delivering fully-furnished apartments to an international clientele that occupies the premises only temporarily and therefore would not have to worry about interior design and development.
Tell us about the future of Husk, when we should expect your online store, what kind of designers will be featured, and what else is coming in 2019?
I’ll be launching my online store in early 2019, featuring sculptural and collectible design furniture and home décor from American and French designers first, because that’s how Husk started: a French girl living in the US! Each year, a new collection will be offered but without giving up the previous one, of course. Maybe in 2020, for example, I'll feature South American and South African designers! And since we are living in a visual era, I'll also create an interior set design to showcase all the products. This seems crucial to me in order to highlight them as much as possible.
In April, I will co-exhibit designers with a renowned exhibitor in Milan, but it's too soon to say more! I’ll keep you guys posted for sure. By the way, I'm still looking for people who would like to show their work in Milan, if interested, please contact me!