OK. I have a confession; I knew I would love Marian Akinloye long before we actually met. I found her accidentally as I am a huge Jamie Drake fan and she was one of his senior designers for many years. There were only a few images of her work online when I started to vet her, so I had to trust my gut about her talent. I put her on the list with only one image to present to the panel for her consideration. I pulled for her in part because of what I knew she had learned at Drake Design Associates.
When I finally got images of her work and a chance to speak with her, all my politicking on her behalf was justified. Her portfolio was colorful and thoughtful - well layered and inviting. I was happy.
Fast forward and Akinloye has evolved into quite the design talent. Her design perspective is clear and she is branching out and developing her own signature style. She recently completed a condo project in Aruba that she feels allowed her to use every bit of her design knowledge.
Akinloye designs homes in the priciest zip codes in the country. From lofts in Tribeca to Upper East Side residents, she just might be the best interior designer you've never heard of. Until Now!
|Upper East Side Residence Designed By Akinloye|
Today's African American Top 20 Interior Designer feature is Marian Akinloye of MA Design Studio
PE: I ask this question to everyone. What does a successful design career look like to you?
MA: For me a successful design career means continued growth. I want to continue to grow my business and grow professionally as a designer. I want my body of work to be inspiring to other designers out there.
PE: Have you ever done a project where you were surprised at how well it turned out? What made it special?
MA: I'm always on pins and needles until every piece of furniture is in its place. When I was working on the private lounge in Soho, it was the first commercial space I had worked on and we were on such a tight budget. I didn't know how I would pull it off, but it turned out so beautiful, I just felt proud. Seeing the smile on my clients face was everything to me.
PE: Your family was extremely excited about your selection to the Top 20 list, how did that make you feel?
MA: Well, It made me feel proud, my husband, my mom and my brothers have always been my biggest supporters. Through the ups and downs of my career, they've been there for me. Being on the Top 20 List is an honor. I feel so blessed that my name is being mentioned with the great African American veterans of interior design.
PE: As I mentioned in the introduction, I have a good feeling about you and your career. What plans (that you can share) do you have for the future of MA Designs?
MA: I'm flattered to hear you say that. Well, right now I'm trying to focus on the projects that I have in front of me, I'm working on a new construction project in the Hamptons, so I'm taking it one day at a time.
PE: Finally, Do you have a signature style when it comes to design?
MA: Not really, I feel like I'm continuing to develop as a designer so I don't have a signature style. I'm still learning with each project that I work on and I think I like it that way. I don't want to become too predictable.
PE: Complete this sentence. I make sure every home I decorate...
MA: Makes my client happy. Every time they walk in to their homes I want them to exhale and smile.