Hopeful by design: SCN interviews Angelo Surmelis
Posted on February 11th, 2010 in Featured by SCN
Designer and television celebrity Angelo Surmelis is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce Membership Breakfast on February 23 at the Sevierville Events Center. SevierCountyNews.com spoke with Surmelis by telephone in anticipation of that event and to ask about the new pieces in his furniture line angelo:HOME.
SCN: You have been really busy since we spoke to you last July! You went to NYC to do an office makeover with Natalie Morales on The Today Show on NBC, then you went to Las Vegas for the furniture show, and you redesigned your web site at angelohome.com, and more. You get that crazy work ethic from your (Greek immigrant) parents, don’t you?
AS: My parents understood all about working and taking advantage of opportunities offered to them in the United States. My Dad worked in a restaurant and had two jobs, sometimes three. My Mom worked outside the home and then would come home and cook and do housework, so yes, I learned by their example. I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work.
SCN: You said you brought back a lot of ideas and information from the furniture show in Las Vegas. What was the one thing that really stood out for you this year?
AS: A sense of hopefulness. You know, everyone took a hit with the economy. Home goods took a big hit. But I am seeing everyone sort of pulling themselves up and taking on the challenge now. We’re not all out of the woods yet, but we are ready to step it up.
SCN: I love the new fabrics you have chosen for your sofas and chairs. Seems like you went a little bolder with this group.
AS: Well first we went bold with color. Everyone told us we could not sell yellow or orange pieces and those were the very colors that did especially well. This time we went bolder with textures.
SCN: We didn’t talk much about this last time, but the ability to streamline and declutter a space is a big part of your career history, especially with the television show, “Clean Sweep.”
AS: It really is, and funny you should mention that because starting Friday we will start featuring the “Friday Five” tips for streamlining and organizing your space on my web site at angelohome.com
SCN: I love your web site and go there often for ideas and inspiration. And speaking of ideas, now I have to ask you about what you are going to do for Lauren Chesney at the Tennessee Smokies Stadium. I know she is excited about winning the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce contest to get an office makeover from you. Can you give me a hint?
AS: Nope. Nothing. It’s gotta be a surprise.
SCN: I am sure it will address her storage issues. Doesn’t everyone have trouble finding the best storage solutions for office spaces?
AS: It’s common, yes. And it’s also common for people to have trouble dividing their personal and professional lives in an office, whether it be an office you leave your home to go to or an in-home office. When you meet with a client in your office, you need to have a layer of professionalism that gives people the confidence to work with you. It’s not really helpful to have too many personal items. They should have a designated place like on a wall or on a shelf. Offices in the home, which are becoming more popular every day, have to serve a dual purpose many times, like a combination office and guest room. That is a whole new set of challenges that good design must address.
SCN: I don’t know how you guys do it. It took me two hours to change out a towel bar.
AS: (laughs) It’s a skill and it gets easier the more you do it. Don’t give up.
SCN: I am excited that you are going to offer bedding as part of your furniture line. When will that be available?
AS: May or June I think. Maybe July. We are still working on choosing the exact launch date. We previewed some of the bedding in Vegas and got a great response. I even had some displays up that did not have my name on it anywhere because we really wanted authentic responses to the bedding itself. It was very positive.
SCN: And how is your (furniture manufacturer) business partner Tom Erdman? I like to tease him and call him “the smart ass” because his sense of humor has a little bit of a bite to it. He was a lot of fun to interview last year.
AS: He wants to be known as “Mr. Smart Ass” now. And he is fine. I will tell him you said hello.
SCN: Yes, please do! Looking forward to hearing you speak at the Sevierville Chamber breakfast and have a safe and pleasant trip getting here from L.A.
AS: Thanks, I am looking forward to it too. See you there!