The Importance of Color Balance

Lexington Avenue NYCBalance is a key word that illustrates what my design philosophy is. It is by definition: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. In design, this is the equal distribution of visual content or weight. Our sense of balance is innate, so when elements of design are not balanced, we are instinctively made uncomfortable and feel this sense of instability. Balance can come from layout, furnishing, volume, structure, and lighting

In this month’s blog I want to focus on color balance, and how to identify what tones and hues work well together to create design harmony.

Determining the right color scheme for your space starts with how the space is lit, if there is a lot of natural light in, or not. Is there is enough artificial light or does the lighting need to be redesigned. Without light there is no color, there is a void. Choosing a color scheme is not only related to the color of the material per se but how the color is read in that specific space with its own specific light.

The feeling of being in the space is dependent on the placement of color throughout. When thinking about how to use color in a home or commercial space I think about how those colors will be seen as a whole. I first choose an atmosphere that I want to create, how they will complement each other creating calm, productive energy, or comfort.

Color can be bold and create a strong juxtaposition or soft and monochromatic to create calm and fluidity. It can also be a strong pop of color that draws the eye to a certain structural detail, piece of furniture, artwork or object. It is all about the space as whole, with the elements working well together to create that desired feeling. Color can determine mood, it can alter thinking and establish inner centeredness and peace.

Determining what colors work well together comes from the designer’s expertise and vision. It is our job to understand the big picture to see beyond the singular notion of design elements and realize their potential to work together to create this harmony. It is also our job to work with the Client who may have a color preference that has a visual appeal for them or is a trend of the moment, but that might not work well in their specific space. There is a lot of psychology of color to take into consideration when choosing a palette and making the Client aware and to have them understand this psychology (See our Blog Archive: )

Creating a successful color palette is a science, it is an important element in the design process and whether it is multi-color patterns carefully matched and placed together, a neutral color palette, monochromatic scheme or strong accents of color, this requires an eye for symmetry and visual appeal. The mark of a good designer is their perception of this balance and cohesion.



The Power of Intuition…

Lexington Ave. High Rise

Lexington Ave. High Rise

Intuition is the natural ability to recognize and understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning to make decisions. Being an Architect/Designer requires keen decision making skills, and the ability to discern and to interpret what the client needs, through being in tune with their feelings and ideas.

Intuition is an important tool in the Designer’s process when doing a Project. Most often the end results come from the process of intuitive decision making derived from a natural sequence of events.

Intuition and creativity go hand in hand; one informs the other and combined with inspiration lead to a successful project. It is an integral part of the design process and the formulation of good client rapport.

Architects and Designers can turn what could be seen as chaos into order, solving challenges and providing the resolution to create a beautiful space. It is the relationship of intuition and scientific facts that are the basis of design triumphs.  A Designer who has a strong intuition serves their Client well and maintains a level of innovation and sophistication in their work.

It seems now more than ever “intuition” is in fashion again, has become a trend, and topic that is widely discussed, and written about, but has intuition ever gone away? This is a human trait; everyone has the potential to tap into their intuition, or their “sixth sense” and trust it when dealing with Clients or personal situations. What has changed in the zeitgeist to make intuition a “buzzword”? I think that people are looking more and more into themselves for the answer, not everything can be solved or answered by reading it or solely based on information from the internet. Our intuition is a muscle that needs to be exercised, to enable us to evolve and become a better-rounded and informed person.




2016 and the NEW Meaning of “Designer” …..




As we welcome the year 2016, what does the future hold for the Designer? Gone are the days of niche designers, who specialize in one medium, style or genre. That concept is antiquated. It has become the age of the Multi- Talented  Designer/Entrepreneur. In today’s design market and design business, the Client looks for that designer who can adapt, innovate, and solve all the challenges of their new design or renovation. It is essential for the designer to be multi-faceted, able to work in not only Architecture and Interior Design, but lighting, space planning, custom furniture, and Art.  More and more the emerging “new normal” is for the designer to have multiple talents, even outside the design world of interiors and architecture. A focus on art and fashion is desirable, even film and photography. Clients trust in someone with a vision and  an artistic sense that creates concepts beyond what they thought possible and  the designer who can execute them.

It is the age of the Designer/Entrepreneur, the self-contained company that provides guidance in all aspects of design, focusing on space design and renovation but also catering to an ever more savvy and worldly clientele that are knowledgeable and well-traveled and that want their space to reflect their style and taste levels, and they do not have to hire 4 different professionals to do each task separately, it is a convenience for the Client.

Coming from a family of artists and ceramists, this has always been a quality that I have integrated in my designs. I continue to be that designer who can do design tasks and also create and select art and fabrics and objects that work well in my Clients’ spaces. It is with my knowledge of art and fashion and history that I can be that well rounded and versatile designer.

I look forward to new Projects and challenging spaces for 2016, I always strive to innovate and use my creative abilities to elicit the best results for my clients, whether it is a commercial, public or residential space. By being well rounded, the Client reaps the benefits and has a cohesive and harmonious design.

Get Inspired ….

The Art of Simplification…

Lexington Avenue NYC

Lexington Avenue NYC

As we close in on  another year, It seems that there is a lot  reflection during this time of year; about life, career  and  space, whether it is a work space or home. I think that many people use this year end period as a time for simplification to de-clutter their minds and spaces in anticipation of the new year, a fresh start. What better place to start that in the space where you live. The home provides shelter, comfort and functionality. There is a newer movement towards sustainability and simplicity especially in an urban setting. With space already at a minimum and also increasingly costly, urban dwellers have looked to a new way to live in smaller spaces and use design elements to help them achieve the optimum use of their home.

As an Architect/ Designer living in New York City, one of the largest and most crowded cities on this planet, I use my sense of perception and imagination to create fully functional homes in any space, whether large or small. This is a challenge, and an opportunity to use my design vision and skills to bring to my Client a new way to live in their home. I first assess what their needs are for their home; what rooms they use the most and an important question…storage. Is that a concern for them? Creating a harmonious space that looks uncluttered and simple utilizes the building of storage spaces that can provide need organization in a home.

Whether it be a single person, couple or a family with children storage is always important. I like clean spaces, effortless rooms that look lived in but not overdone. How can I create a space that is perceived to be larger, when the square footage is not? This is where a Designer who understands space can create a home that suits their client and exceeds expectation.

Simplification is cleansing, especially in a home. Our lives are so fast paced; we do not have time to breathe sometimes. When we simplify our space, we simplify our life. We reflect on what we really need to live and what is important. We prioritize. In a large city where overcrowding is the norm, simplification is key to an enriched quality of life. I think it is something we can learn from and makes us resilient, and knowing that we are not tied to possessions, we can realize what is important.



The Blueprint of Design …Combining the Technical, Creative and the Psychological to Achieve Success

IMG_1262Giusi Re Touch- GiusiBeing an Architect and  Interior Designer is not for the faint of heart. Design incorporates technical, creative, and psychological skill. It is with the harmony of these aspects that a good Designer flourishes.

The Technical: Studying Design and Architecture is a calling and a commitment to intense study and practice. It commands great passion and talent involving mathematics, geometry, science, art and creative inspiration. It is the combination of these elements that make a Designer of merit. There is also the need to keep up with design trends and adapting those trends to your particular style. In the profession of Interior Design, this is beneficial in creating Projects that are successful and having happy Clients.

The Creative: An  Architect/Interior Designer is an artist, a visionary, someone who strives to innovate in their chosen industry. Following a creative path is not easy; it comes with challenges and bumps along the way. Sometimes an intensely creative person suffers because their mind works in such a different way and so quickly. Sometimes this creative spirit is stalled, this is the creative resistance. Focusing too much on always having to produce can be stressful therefore stifling the freedom of creativity. It is the ability to manage the creativity in a business format that helps the designer through tough challenges.

The Psychological: An  Architect/Interior Designer deals with Clients, whether it is a family or an individual, a corporation or an organization. This requires diplomacy and highly evolved social skills. In dealing with Clients, a Designer must know, especially in Residential Design, the Design process is very personal. To be in someone’s home and make changes to improve their quality of life is deeply rewarding. Establishing the trust between Client and Designer is necessary.

Being an Architect/Designer is a courageous  profession. The Designer is an artist, a therapist, a problem solver, a knowledgeable source, and an innovator. What sets apart a good designer is the  balance in these skills.


Getting to Know You….



Being a Designer is a Client based business. They are the foundation of what we do, without our Clients, we do not produce work. There are many ways to obtain new Clients. It can be from a referral from a colleague or former Client, from a publication or social media or from our own website with an email or telephone inquiry.

Interior Design, especially Residential, is a multi faceted and extremely personal business. Designing a home for a client is an experience that requires trust, knowledge and diplomacy, and also incredible amounts of patience especially when making important decisions with your client.

I believe that before that first face to face meeting with a new potential client,  a good policy is to have an initial email exchange to understand what the Client’s needs are, so the designer can begin to make an assessment of the project and tasks.

In my firm ORA studio, I have developed a New Client Questionnaire that I send to every inquiry I receive. The questions are designed to allow this new client to really answer some questions that they themselves may have not thought of and also helps to me determine what their ultimate goal might be and also how our fit would be as Client and Designer.

It is a short questionnaire but ultimately extremely helpful to understand who the Client is, even before the first meeting or consultation. An important question is about budget. The client may have many ideas about what they want their home  to be, but maybe have not fully thought out the cost. This question gets them in the mindset of their numbers and what they are willing to spend realistically.

Other questions ask what their design style is and also time frame. Time frame is another point that needs to be discussed, is it a full renovation and the Client only has six months? is there a broader time frame because the space is a new construction?  These are important factors to understand before the meeting.

I ask  if the potential client has ever worked with a designer before. Knowing how to work with a designer is crucial. There needs to be a rapport and a shared vision and concept that both sides feel strongly about.

For my business this survey has changed the way I meet with prospective clients, and it gives me as the designer a leg up on what to talk about and how to approach this prospective Client and address what is really important to them, it also saves me time by not doing many back and forth emails and with their answers to the questions posed I formulate a rough scope of work and tasks and bring that into our first meeting. My preparedness is also an indication that I take my work seriously and that I will not waste the Client’s time, which is very important to them. This template  is indicative to the Client that a high level of professionalism is regarded as imperative and integral to good business and excellent results.

Welcome to UN Plaza Duplex…

Living Area at UN Plaza duplex by ORA studio

Living Area at UN Plaza Duplex by ORA studio

Residential Design can be extremely gratifying and also sometimes challenging. As a designer, I am inspired by structure and Architecture of the space itself. In one of our latest Projects, that is now on our website at UN Plaza Duplex was such an inspiration. In an iconic building on the east side of Manhattan with panoramic views of the East River and also the United Nations Headquarters, the location itself was awe inspiring and beautiful.

Our Client was embarking on a new chapter in his life and was excited at the Modernist idea that I relayed to him. We began the design of a large duplex with custom fireplace, and a grand spiral staircase and foyer, just to name a few of the standout features.

In an apartment with so much space, it is important to keep the feeling of harmony, this was a home and I felt the responsibility to maintain the integrity of that feeling, comfort mixed with luxury and livability. The Client has a very extensive art collection which served as a backdrop for Architectural details and features in the space.

From the grandeur of the entry foyer with its modern spiral staircase leading to the second floor, to the pristine kitchen with eat in area to the large scale living area with custom fireplace and bar, this duplex is modern in its concept but never loses the feeling of  being a home.

By using high quality materials, stone, marble and high end flooring, and elements of luxury such as a sauna and large master tub, the Client is presented with a space that will stand the test of time. The furnishing reflects the Client’s aesthetic and suits the space and the stunning art collection works well with each piece carefully placed for maximum viewing. Though the overall palette is neutral the pops of color added are the appropriate accent without looking too garish, and overdone.

I want you all to take the tour of UN Plaza Duplex; it is a beautiful space and was a labor of love to design…

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