Art through eyes of an interior designer
Our series of articles on art and its role in interior design is concluded by an interview with Milan Kočiš, the founder of architectural firm FMDESIGN. This company provides comprehensive services in interior architecture, furnishing and project realisation. This interview was developed in collaboration with an international platform VELVENOIR which was founded in Salzburg, Austria and has grown into a global art consulting network. In this exclusive interview you will peek behind the scenes of our beginnings, learn why art is a form of personal investment and also discover some useful tips for doing business in the creative industry.
Can you please share some general information about your business? Can you tell me when and where it was established?
Our interior design studio was founded 25 years ago in a small Slovak town Kežmarok and has grown from a local business into a company with international customer and partner network in countries such as Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and Italy. FMDESIGN develops tailored environments of multiple styles and functionalities and offers interior architecture, furniture design and project management services for commercial clients and private individuals. Since the very beginning, our company has been based on a family tradition and crafts each environment with a strong focus on authenticity and innovation.
What makes your business unique to your industry?
What defines or differentiates us is not our work but rather our attitude towards it. We treat each project individually and as a perfect opportunity to improve the business or living environment of our clients. Thus, the final design is always highly tailor-made and resulting from an organic process of co-creation. For this purpose, we produce a substantial part of the designed furniture in-house and complement this offer through cooperation with internationally acknowledged design brands. Furthermore, our service portfolio is very versatile and includes additional services related to this area of work, such as graphic design or professional interior photography.
Becoming an Interior Designer has that always been your dream to start a career in that industry? Or how did you fall into that creative path?
Since my early childhood, I used to devote the majority of my free time to drawing and painting which I pursued also during my design studies. Later on, I have acquired a solid experience in a furniture producing company. And thanks to following the dream of earning a living from work I was passionate about, the transition into this path happened naturally. However, before stepping into the role of an interior designer, I started my first entrepreneurial activities as a creator of fine art for clients in various industries. Interior design was the next move and the ultimate way of combining my passion for creative work and the technical skills I have acquired.
How did you start your business? How was the first two years of establishing it?
As we started to build our business from scratch right after the political revolution in our country, the beginning years were anything but easy. However, having the right team of dedicated people and focusing on building long-term relationships with our clients has made the whole process manageable.
As with any starting business, the biggest challenges arose from establishing the name in a given industry, handling uncertainty and also from overcoming the initial limits – especially when it came to the project scope. Related to this, making the jump from mini- to macro projects demanded a big portion of courage and willingness to improvise.
What is the key criteria for you to select art for the project you currently work on?
We perceive art as a great medium for storytelling and believe that it has the power to enhance or to disrupt the impression intended by the interior design concept. Therefore, we always consider the specific personality of our client and the type of atmosphere we are trying to create. What matters in this context is mainly the right combination of color, composition and also proportions of a given object. Furthermore, one needs to respect the function of a given interior and last but not least, also the budget.
How do you outsource art for your clients?
Apart from using the online world as a powerful screening tool, we also tend to outsource the art directly from a network of local artists who are able to provide us with fine art suitable for a given interior. Moreover, we often cooperate with various art galleries and when finding the right fit, place their artwork in our projects. We also offer these original artworks via our online design shop FMDESIGN ELEMENTS, as the oil paintings by Jean Claude Breat pictured in this article.
Do you collect art yourself? If so, what art can be found in your home?
Sure, art has always had a high importance in my life and I truly enjoy getting inspired by it daily. Currently I own several original paintings from recognized Slovak artists and of course, also some pieces from my own artwork; mostly oil paintings and hand drawings. Furthermore, my bookcase holds a broad collection of inspirational books about creations of world-known artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Hans Thoma and Salvador Dalí.
Do you see art as a personal investment for your client? How do you help your client in the process when finding the right artwork?
Since the selection of art is a highly subjective matter, it is essential to provide the client with various alternatives and respect his/her freedom of choice and personal preferences. And while we might have the competence to advise our clients on art, pushing our own opinion too hard on them makes no sense to us. What really counts in this process is the feeling of connection and good vibes between the client and the selected object. However, whenever the opportunity presents itself, we like to surprise our client with something that is slightly “out-of-the-box”.
What is your personal view with regards to art and interior design?
We are convinced that art provides the interior concept with an inimitable character and therefore is an indispensable part of every great design. Moreover, it provides the client with an opportunity to relax and to dive into a world without external pressures, doubts or limitations. It can be one of the most powerful sources of “brain-food”, able to recharge one’s emotional battery and to foster innovative thinking.
Do you have any advice for interior design colleagues when starting their own business in interior design as well as how to start placing / recommending original art for their first clients?
Listen first and talk later – Empathy always comes first, especially in business. Dare to take enough time in order to understand your counterpart.
Focus on the value added – Dare to outperform yourself and strive to do more than the client would normally expect.
Maintain your authenticity – It is important to do your research and collect new inspirations, but even more crucial to develop your own distinctive style. In this regard, dare to differentiate yourself and add your own signature to everything you are creating.