Paying Homage to the Past
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s important to recognize the incredible contributions that women have made to the world of design. From historical figures such as Dorothy Draper who was known for her anti-minimalist style, to Elsie de Wolfe, a pioneer of American interior design who began her journey at the turn of the 20th century, to the amazing modern-day trailblazers, women have played a vital role in shaping the field of interior design. As a women-owned design firm, Studio IDC would like to honor those women who have come before us, and we are proud to be part of this history.
Meet the Women of Studio IDC
Shown here: Margaret Tyler, a Jamaican-born interior decorator who founded the family business in Miami, Caribbean Producers, in the 1960s and specialized in unique projects such as King’s House, which was redecorated for Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Jamaica in 1983; Margaret’s daughter, Stephanie Tyler, founder and president of Studio IDC, who has 45 years of experience in luxury hospitality and residential interior design; and Stephanie’s daughter, Trisha Brookbank, Studio IDC VP, who brings 15 years of fine art experience and operational expertise to each project.
Q&A with Stephanie Tyler, President & Founder, Studio IDC
Q: What women have inspired you and why?
A: I have been inspired most by people who are closest to me: my mother and my Aunt Monica. My mother had a strong moral foundation and belief in God, and I saw how that played out in the world and how she dealt with people. She was emblematic of things that were loving, beautiful, and artful. My aunt was of Jamaican Lebanese descent and came from a very large family. She was very grounded and realistic and became my go-to source of wisdom. These two views of life complemented one another. I gleaned aspects of both, which have influenced how I see the world today.
Q: How did your mother inspire and influence your design?
A: One of my mother’s favorite sayings was “How can we make this pretty?” Her thoughts were from a different generation of design, but I still embrace parts of that outlook today. She also pushed me to study design professionally in college, which I’m grateful for. When she was in school, design wasn’t a degree or a profession. People were “decorators.”
My mother saw art in sensory experiences. She liked the way things felt and loved color. She was extremely gracious, giving, and honest and always thought about her clients first. I think some of our transparency here at Studio IDC comes from that.
Q: What changes have you seen in the interior design industry throughout your career, particularly with regard to women’s roles and opportunities?
A: There has always been a “feminine component” to interior design, an assumption that women will “make it pretty.” Now, women create it, draw it, budget it, build it, and lead the project. Women are directing projects from start to finish in a completely holistic way – not just draperies and pillows but structure, interior architecture, lighting, finishes, and project management.
Q: How do you think women in the design industry can build strong networks and support systems to advance their careers in business?
A: Sharing information is a great way to build networks and support one another in growth. Gone are the days of secrecy about how to get challenges done. Share!
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to young women who are just starting their careers?
A: Never lie to your clients. Always be honest. It’s as simple as that.
Q: In your experience, what role can mentors play in helping women succeed?
A: It’s important for emerging business owners, entrepreneurs, or employees to see good communication in action. Clarity, tone, nonverbal communication, and active listening are all important, especially for people interacting with clients. So is learning how to give and receive feedback. I think a mentor who can demonstrate those skills would be valuable to anyone coming up in business.
Q: What are some key qualities and skills that women need to succeed in business, especially as entrepreneurs and business owners?
A: First, surround yourself with good people, including those who are smarter than you. Open-mindedness is also key. Curiosity and the ability to hear different perspectives are a part of that. Transparency and honesty are also critically important. They help build trust and strengthen your reputation. Finally, document everything! Projects have long lives. Document your path.
Looking to the Future
Shown here: Trisha Brookbank, Margaret Tyler, Stephanie Tyler and Todd Tyler, son of Stephanie and Chief Creative Officer at Studio IDC
At the heart of the interior design industry lies a deep appreciation for creativity, innovation, and passion, qualities that women have consistently embodied throughout history. As we look back at the legacy of women in design, we are reminded of the immense value that diverse perspectives bring to the creative process. Studio IDC is proud to be part of a community of talented and creative professionals who are pushing boundaries and making their mark on interior design. We hope this month serves as a reminder of the progress women have made, and we look forward to much more exciting work to be done.