What Level is Your Design Business?

Overheard: Charles Pavarini, Leyden Lewis, and Maria Viola: How to Harness Creativity in Interior Design

Episode 968 of A Well-Designed Business®

Today With Charles Pavarini, Leyden Lewis, and Maria Viola

Hi, welcome to a Well-Designed Business. On today’s Overheard episode, I’m joined by Charles Pavarini III, Leyden Lewis, and Maria Viola. We rarely talk about design itself on the podcast—we’re much more focused on the business sode of things. But the conversation about creativity has popped up several times over the years in discussions I have had with many of you.

I have often wondered, is creativity something you just have or you don’t? And if you do have it, how do you know, and how do you channel it into your work?

What is it that makes some spaces just truly, unquestionably impressive? And is there a formula, a process, or a system for developing that? Or is it just innate? Today, I turn to the experts to answer these questions.

Pick It Apart:

[5:57] Charles, Leyden, and Maria share their viewpoints on where creativity comes from and how to harness it.

[18:55] We discuss the teaching side of creativity and how to draw it out of students.

[30:18] We unpack how to find the balance between your own creativity and the client’s needs and budget.

[42:32] Charles, Leyden, and Maria share their advice for upcoming designers who want to develop their creative skills.

LuAnn Nigara, Charles Pavarini, Leyden Lewis, and Maria Viola’s Ah-Ha Moments

“I think that the designer has something that the layperson does not have…and when you can unclutter your head with specifics—that’s when inspiration comes.” -Charles

“We teach students to open and receive the creativity that’s already stirring inside them, but they just don’t know how to release it. We also take that and help them understand how to put it into the actual design of a room.” -Maria

“I think for artists, shame is a major component—you have to get beyond it and allow yourself to express yourself. I think the most creative people are the bravest people I know.” -Leyden

More About Charles Pavarini, Leyden Lewis, and Maria Viola

Leyden Lewis: Leyden Lewis’ received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture from Parsons School of Design, The New School. He has continued to teach at the Parsons School of Design at The New School, as well as the New York School of Interior Design throughout his career. Leyden’s design aesthetic is at once rooted in a rich classical Modernism coupled with ancient traditions and methodologies. He operates from a deep interest in art and the history of design to tell a new and modern stories. Leyden Lewis Design Studio has created and curated poetic and culturally sensitive spaces for over thirty years. Our practice engages with the cultures of the past and present, and allows for a fluid integration between art, architecture, and design. As a fine artist, Leyden has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem and at NYU’s 80WSE. Leyden is a Founding Member of the Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG).

Charles Pavarini: Pavarini’s years of experience, former career in theater, and extraordinary creativity have made him a trend-setting Interior Designer. Recognized for Residential and Commercial Architectural Interior Design, his work is consistently highlighted with intricate lighting design elements and brilliant technological innovation. His design sensibility incorporates an International Style based in Classicism and a theatrical component in less-than typical ways. Lighting is a focus within his work and he currently serves on the board of directors of the Designers Lighting Forum of New York. His book Lighting Beyond Edison: Brilliant Residential Lighting Techniques in the Age of LED’s was recently published by Schiffer Publications. A Recipient of 34 Design awards including an Interior Design B.O.Y Award, a LUMEN Award, and IFDA’s Circle of Excellence Award, confirms his influence and leadership within the Interior Design Profession.

Maria Viola: Maria adds a unique perspective that stems from her expertise with color, custom designs and knowledge of design history. Developing long-lasting relationships has enabled her to take clients through multiple projects.

Maria received her Master’s degree in Interior Architecture and Design from Drexel University. She has taught extensively at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, remaining grounded in academia but alive to new trends.

Her work has ranged from custom furniture designs to office spaces to the renovation of entire residences. As part of Philadelphia’s new guard of interior designers, she has the ability to combine modern and traditional – balancing scale and proportion – always with a twist that raises it above the ordinary. With humor, knowledge, and the ability to uncover a client’s own sense of style, she partners with clients to affect change in their lives.

Maria is active in the American Society of Interior Designers, PA East Chapter and is Past President of its Board of Directors. She is the past recipient of two Chapter Awards; the Educator Award and the Presidential Citation and an IDA Philadelphia award for custom design of gates for a client’s home. Maria also sits on the board of Bartram’s Garden, Philadelphia and co-chairs its annual Twilight In The Garden Fundraising event.

Connect with Charles Pavarini, Leyden Lewis, and Maria Viola

Leyden’s Website

Leyden’s Instagram

Charles’ Website

Charles’ Book: Lighting beyond Edison: Brilliant Residential Lighting Techniques in the Age of LEDs

Charles’ Instagram

Maria’s Website

Maria’s Instagram

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Other Resources Mentioned:

WCAA Jill Robson Memorial Scholarships for 2024

Vitalia Inc

Other Shows Mentioned:

 AWDB #587: Darrell Long: The Best Design Comes From Within, Not Pinterest

What Level is Your Design Business?