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Young designers spotlight - Stephanie Viterbo

Country, New Zealand

Nov 08, 2022

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Through the Young Designers Spotlight we have been able to meet a range of talented designers making their way through their career in our industry. This time around we spoke to Stephanie Viterbo, lead designer at Wonder Group. Having recently started her career in interior design, she draws inspiration and experience from the range of industries she has previously worked in. Here is what she had to say:

How long have you been in the interior design industry for?


I’ve been in the industry for a little over a year now, time flies. Working at Wonder Group is my first foray into the design industry and I have absolutely loved every part of it. The upfront studio ground knowledge is a pretty steep hill to climb, but we’re starting to get the hang of things!


What got you into interior design?


My passion for my work began in a completely different industry, Hospitality. Together with my father, we opened the restaurant Siamese Doll in Hobsonville, which was a dive in the deep end on how spaces get built. We got to work together on all aspects of the fit-out process, including architectural engagement, concept direction & project management of the build. This experience sparked the flame & gave me the confidence to begin working alongside the team at Wonder on all things design and build. 


What has been the biggest learning curve in your career? 


There’s a new one every day. Getting my head around the technical side of the job has been a decent challenge, specifically using the architectural software tools such as Archicad. On top of that I had very little prior construction knowledge or relationships and so I am still building these connections within the industry. 


What is the best part of your job?


There are quite a few things I like about my work. Again, one would have to be the technical side of my work that comes in the form of technical drawings. I also really enjoy working under pressure and crafting a tidy, legible output. Often there are quick turnarounds but this is where things seem to get more fun!

How do you design with acoustics in mind?


This has recently become more of a focus as I’ve settled into the foundations, but through my hospitality experience the value of soft acoustics is extremely clear. Sitting in a restaurant with roaring surrounds is an unsettling experience, and I’ve observed firsthand how much this can affect the diners’ experience. It is important for the acoustics to hug the space, providing a soft & cozy environment that your guests can relax into. 


What role does sustainability play in your work?


This is a really important space for me personallyespecially with my background in fashion and the focus through that industry. It continues to be a strong focus of mine, and from a day to day perspective can be as simple as asking suppliers for background on their sustainability developments. Project dependent, this means looking at renewable materials as well as finding clever means to reconsider existing ‘used’ materials. A recent project, Watda, saw the re-use of railway sleepers into a strong & stable base for banquette seating. This gave character, avoided wasteful construction processes, and voided the need for virgin material. 


How do you see sustainability changing the interior design industry in the next decade?


I think this is coming in the form of a mentality change. Costs are increasing but people want more sustainable options. It is forcing people to look at materials that were once ignored as options. It is bringing a sense of simplicity back into design all through necessity.


Where do you draw your inspiration from?


I am influenced by so much of what’s around me, it’s hard to pin this onto any one thing. My colleagues are very inspired designers and I am always eager to take as much of their knowledge as possible. I am very sensitive to colour and so references from fashion, textiles and natural ‘found’ samples drive a lot of my thought process. Getting away from the computer and looking for small moments of interesting compositions always seem to spark something fresh, so there’s that I guess.

How would you best describe your design style?


Eclectic is the best way to describe me. I like to see old-worldly and contemporary styles live in interesting ways together, borrowing colour, texture and form from across the spectrum and seeing how they dance. I have recently found that I am certainly not a minimalist, so learning to play into this as a strength is a path of continual development. 


Do you have a particular project you are the proudest of?


Having only been in the industry for over a year we’re at the start of this ride. If I had to pick one it would be Watda, a recent space in Ponsonby Central that I led at Wonder. Although it’s a small footprint, we managed to deliver a very clean floorplan with a tidy symmetry—and a heavy dose of charm. Standard Issue in Wellington has also been an incredible experience, we managed to create a space that captures the essence of a heritage New Zealand owned brand in a pared back, confident manner. It’s honestly wild to see your project go from the 3D model in the computer to a real life build, the first walk through the completed site makes everything become real and I guess you could say that ‘proud’ is one of those feelings!

Country, New Zealand

Nov 08, 2022

Community, Interviews, News Article

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