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Interior designer Melody Soleimani grew up in the Wilshire Corridor area of Los Angeles and stayed close to home when she went on to major in Communications at UCLA. With a love for architecture and furniture, she continued her education at Downtown LA's FIDM, where she studied Interior Design. While she was still studying, Soleimani began working for interior designer Ammie Kim and eventually Kelly Wearstler, who opened her eyes up to all she could do with design. One day while she was meeting with an iron maker, he told Soleimani something that would push her limits, "He said, 'Don't forget, when you're young don't work for anyone for more than two years,'" she said of his advice. "Learn what you have to learn then get out of there. Don't be scared to take risks.' That always stuck in my head."
Now, Soleimani is a successful interior designer who handles everything from commercial to residential to hospitality projects on her own. With a small team working under her, she stays busy with clients, filling orders for them and her online store, which showcases some of her favorite pieces. The designer's "modern mixed with traditional" aesthetic can be seen in her work at The Hotel Wilshire, Elan Hotel and various residences.
While the first things Soleimani notices when walking into a client's space for the first time are color, texture and pattern, she says that she likes to close out the project with some type of conversation piece in each area. The jobs can take anywhere from three months to three years, depending on the client's budget and her overall goal is to keep them satisfied. "It is so important for me to see that the client is happy with what they get," Soleimani said. "I want to see that smile."
We caught up with the interior designer at her brother's juice spot in Santa Monica where we found out her style icon, snack of choice and secret of life.
What are you drinking today?
"I usually start my day with a bottle of Apple Lemon Ginger juice from my brother's store, Rejuice. Ginger has all kinds of benefits and keeps me from feeling sluggish throughout the day."
White or Black?
"Black. I always try to use a little bit of black to feel some drama in a room."
What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone for the first time?
"The connection and energy between us. It is amazing the number of people I have to collaborate with in my work, the flooring contractor, drapery maker, architect, cabinet installer, purchasing agent, welder, upholsterer, painter, fabric broker, sculptor and sales rep, not to mention clients and backers. I notice a certain wavelength and try to tune into it."
Warm Sunshine or Cozy Fire?
"A cozy fire, but only after the sun goes down."
Trust or Love?
We trust people when we are not afraid of them, and there is nothing that curdles love quicker than a drop of fear, loosely quoting James M. Cain in Double Indemnity.
What is your favorite design era?
"The era defined by the husband and wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames who came to their own in the 1950s. We all love the Eames lounge chair and the Barcelona chair. And when you go to most airports here and abroad, you sit on chairs of their design. In the best American tradition, they meld elegance and practicality."
Fill in the blank: All I want for Christmas is_.
New or Vintage?
"If you really think about it, what is new today will be vintage in the future. Then it becomes retro. In design it is important to find the freshness and the energy in vintage, otherwise the room will look like an antique shop or a museum."
What is your guilty food pleasure?
"Cheese please. I can't understand why people say something is cheesy in a negative way. To me that's the highest form of compliment, particularly if it is the Dutch Ballerina cheese."
What is the last thing that you did and regretted?
"Painted the walls of a client's rooms in a hot pink chevron pattern while painting gray stripes on the floor. I redid the floors and we were all happy at the end. Turns out, being bold with patterns and colors has its limits."
What is the Secret to Life according to Melody?
"As someone said, 'To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.'"
Favorite coffee table book?
"I like art books, in particular those that feature the works of Georgia O'Keefe and Lucien Freud, and-surprise, surprise-Norma Rockwell."
What was your favorite sitcom as a child?
"It's a toss up between Three's Company and I Love Lucy."
Who is your style icon?
"In two words George Hurrell, the great Hollywood photographer who knew how to pose and light such stars as Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Norma Shearer, Rita Hayworth and Gene Tierney; he gave them style to burn."
Vodka or Champagne?
"What about tequila?"
What is your all-time favorite mirror dancing song?
"At the moment it's Forever by Haim."
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