Journal Newspapers: Design Files
By Robin Daly and Christian Ursino
Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 10:17 PM PDT
We are always on the lookout for things that are well designed and available at a good price. Recently we had the opportunity to speak directly with Angelo Surmelis, a celebrity interior designer who is launching a new line of furniture that is both affordable and stylish. In other words, work that is right up our alley!
You might recognize Surmelis from his appearances on HGTV. He recently appeared on the Today Show creating a family room transformation on a tight budget. We were excited to spend some time with Surmelis getting to know him and learning about what drives his creativity.
R&C: Angelo, tell us a bit about this new line of furniture you are launching.
AS: I’ve actually been spending time in Seattle working with Costco, because we are starting our launch with them featuring some selected items from my new line of 31 furniture pieces.
When I was young, I loved watching vintage movies; the old Hollywood glamour was quite an influence. When you look at my line, you can see that influence not only in the names of the pieces, but in the styling of them, too.
R&C: Besides being a nice guy, tell us a bit about yourself.
AS: It’s always been important to me to bring design to a wide range of people, regardless of their budget. I came straight off the boat from Greece when I was 6 years old, and I was always thinking about design, even at a young age.
In college, I learned architecture school wasn’t for me (all that math!) so I focused on fine art and painting. I had fantasies of moving to Manhattan or Europe and working on my art, just to be creative. I thought if I could make enough for rent and food, I’d be happy.
It never occurred to me that people would pay me to design their homes. And because of my background, I feel there should be no gap between the people who could afford to buy nice things and those who couldn’t.
R&C: So how did you actually get into design?
AS: I was always doing design favors for family and friends making no money yet spending a lot of time on their projects. I got lucky with my very first paying client in L.A. After designing her home, she wanted me to stage an event for 400 people. At this time, I was basically a one-man operation, but I took the risk and it was worth it.
While Los Angeles is a huge city, it’s a small town when it comes to word-of-mouth referrals. After that party, I never had to advertise to get work. Then one job led to another.
R&C: And how did television come into all this?
AS: Opportunities just kept presenting themselves, and sometimes I wasn’t even aware of what it would mean at the time. A friend who knew a friend kept after me to meet with a television producer. I was resistant at first but eventually turned myself over to the opportunity.
I learned that through television I could bring my work to a larger audience. It became a passion when I realized I could help people and shorten the distance between the people who could afford to buy nice things and those who couldn’t.
Your space changes the way you feel in it.
R&C: Really, Angelo, how do you find the time for all this?
AS: I love what I do. Some people think being a workaholic is a bad thing! My parents had an amazing work ethic, mine pales in comparison.
I fill my days with what I love to do. I think design is one of those things you don’t just do in a vacuum - it’s so tactile. We are affected by design every day, no matter where we are. From the products you see in the grocery store, to cars to furniture.
R&C: Thank you so much for your time, Angelo! We’ll be sure to follow your work on your Web site, www.angelohome.com.
Decorating duo Robin Daly, a third-generation co-owner of Daly’s Paint & Decorating in Seattle and Bellevue, and Christian Ursino, a Seattle-based interior designer, are the authors of Design Files. Send them questions directly at designfilesduo.blogspot.com.