Thom Filicia: Inspiration in Design

Let me start by saying that Thom Filicia's presentation was probably one of the best I've seen lately.  He is just as great as you would imagine, and he was refreshingly insightful, open, and down-to-earth.  The presentation took place in a small auditorium with a maximum capacity of, probably no more than 75 at most, which made for a wonderfully intimate environment.  I even arrived early enough to have center second row seats (the front was reserved).

Thom's presentation was entitled, "What Inspires You, Inspires Me", and I felt like I was reading a sacred text when he shared the components of his 5 step design formula:

      1. Understand Your Client
           Learn what makes them tick--how/where do they eat, sleep, entertain? What do  
           they do in their spare time?  How do they define their lifestyle?
      2. Understand Your Architecture
           Identify the architecture and examine how it relates to the client and why they chose 
           that particular property.
      3. Understand Geographic Location
           Coastal? Country? Urban? Suburban?  How does the location speak to the 
           persona/lifestyle of the client?
      4. Identify Historical References
          Identify historical features in the space and determine if they can they contribute and 
          add to the design plan.
      5. Assign Moods
          Assign 3 to 5 moods to room as means of further identifying the client and the design 
          they hope to achieve.  Try to layer these moods into each space . Words like eccentric,
          sexyvibrant, edgy, & refined help to create identity & definition (Thom says the more
          moods, the better!).
(**sorry for the weird spacing here**)

Thom presented 4 case studies (previous projects) and talked in detail about the way he approached each design plan.  The in-depth discussion was almost like interning with him on a project--priceless! It was good to see a successful designer using (and improving) on many of the same principles I'm now learning in design school.  For me it reinforced my belief that knowing the principles is important, but by no means all it takes to be a successful designer.  Learn it, expand upon it, and make it your own.

Thom talked a lot about his background and how he got to where he is today, including how he got discovered (stuck in an elevator with a talent scout and claustrophobe!) and the inspiration behind his furniture line.  He shared that he's working on a new book due out next year (yes!!!) and talked about organically following & nurturing your career as a designer.  He was full of wisdom, and I'm glad I was able to hear him in an educational environment, because it met me right where I am in my career.  

And if you can spare a few more minutes, I found this great video on YouTube which, though old, really sums up the spirit of his energy.  Enjoy!