DRIVEN: Shai DeLuca-Tamasi
April 2, 2013
Founder and president, Shai DeLuca Interior Design
We met this bubbly character through our client EQ3, Shai is their regional design manager. However, you may recognize Shai from Cityline talking about the importance of combining contemporary appeal with traditional overtones. This expert is more than just a pretty face he is also the Principle at Shai DeLuca Interior Design. Get to know Shai!
1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Growing up in a family of commercial real estate developers, I have always had a love and fascination with the world of Interior Design. I can recall my near obsession with redesigning and forever reconfiguring my parents home every chance I had. Admittedly, I drove my parents crazy, but, in retrospect, that was my first true taste of what was to come.
After graduating high school, I felt a strong patriotic duty to return to my roots and served three years in the Israeli Defence Forces as a front line engineer. While living in Tel Aviv, my love for design and architecture continued to grow. I spent close to seven years working for various Israeli design firms and companies. My dream was slowly becoming a reality, but I understood that without the proper education, the opportunities I had were limited. So, being the self proclaimed design aficionado I was, I set my eyes on the true design Mecca I had longed to be part of, New York City. Having worked hard to save enough money, I left Israel and enrolled in design school in Manhattan. All at once, doors began to open for me. Upon completion of my studies, I founded my own design firm, Shai DeLuca Interior Design.
Designing in NYC proved to be a dream come true and an experience that I will forever be grateful for. My move Toronto came about when an American design house hired me to head their introduction to the Canadian market. This gave me my foundation to grow and become a well known name in the Canadian Design community. Unfortunately, due to the 2008 recession, that company had to close it’s Canadian offices, which left me time to grow my own business this side of the border.
Since then, my company has grown and evolved in Toronto, Tel Aviv, and NYC.
My latest and most exciting accomplishment has been joining the Cityline team as an Interior Design Expert. Combining my love for design and television had always been a dream of mine, and I look forward to growing with the brand both locally and nationally. I think it’s about time Canada had it’s own Nate Berkus!
2. Biggest career highlight? (so far.)
Only one? Each and every project I work on is a blessing and I am grateful for each. Every time a new project begins, it undoubtedly becomes a highlight. Having said that, I will always be most grateful for my very first opportunity to design, during my last year of studies.
While working during my studies at a coffee shop in Union Square, I became friends with a regular customer, who just so happened to be an Israeli expat. When he and his wife learned that I was studying to be a designer, they immediately jumped on the opportunity to pick my brain about a gut reno they were about to embark on having inherited a home in Brooklyn. The casual idea exchange quickly turned into them hiring me and giving me my very first opportunity to work on my very own project! All the schooling in the world, could have never offered me the experiences and knowledge that I gained during that project. To this day I count that as my biggest career highlight, because without it, I don’t know if the doors that opened because that project’s success would have been open to me.
3. Biggest lesson learnt? (so far.)
Without a doubt, be respectful of a person’s home/space. I’m sure I am in good designer company when I say that with the onset of each new project, I envision what I know will be the best design for the space. There’s an old saying that holds true, “Never trust a designer who doesn’t have an opinion”. Words to love by. But, as much as I as a designer would love to create each space in the vision I see fit, at the end of the day, once the project is complete, I get to return to my home, my oasis. The same love I have for my own space, is the feeling that I work tirelessly to create for each and every client. So, though my vision is what I am paid to create for my clients, I have learned that it is far more important both for my clients as swell as for my business to listen to what a home/business owner wants and to respectfully incorporate their dreams for their spaces into my design concept.
4. What do you love most about what you do?
There is nothing better than working in an industry that is fast paced and forever changing. I get bored easily. Interior Design guarantees that even I, am always on my toes. I love that I get up each day, to something new and completely different.
True, I have a schedule which dictates where I spend my time, but once I’ve arrived where I’m going, the slate is wiped clean and a new day begins.
Also, having a career that allows the amazing ideas in my mind come to fruition for a client is the most fulfilling feeling in the world.
5. What do you do in your downtime?
Downtime? What’s that? I admit, I’m pretty type A when it comes to work. Between running my own company, television and styling retail spaces for one of Canada’s hottest furniture retailers, downtime is not something I have much of.
However, in the past couple of years, I’ve learned the importance of a healthy balance between work and relaxation. I’m not totally cured, I admit. My iPhone might as well be surgically attached to my hip. I like to be available to my clients, as well as efficient when it comes to timely responses to issues. Design is a forever changing and evolving industry. A good designer needs to be in the know and on top of new trends.
With that, spending my down time with my husband is most important to me. He grounds me and balances my personality better than anyone. He’s my very own personal Ritalin prescription. :-)
6. Dream dinner date?
Frank Lloyd Wright. His works have been a huge inspiration to me and my design aesthetic. I love the way he was able to think outside the box and marry his environment and design aestictic into every project.
7. I cannot live without my…
Camera and notebook. It never fails. I constantly find myself in situations where I am inspired by the amazing environment around me. Sometimes the most unsuspecting landscape or product sets off an idea in my mind. I know at that very moment that I have to create a way to incorporate the idea into a client project, or keep it on the back burner for future projects, which is where the notebook comes into play. I admit, my memory often fails me, (I know my colleagues are nodding and laughing profusely as they read this) and without the notebook detailing what the idea I had was, the thought often escapes me. Simple items, yet more often than not, the beginning of some of my best creations.
8. Favorite design/fashion trend at the moment?
If we’re talking about trends specifically, I’d have to say the “back to naturals” trend that is so hot now. For years, interior design was, in my opinion, weighed down, figuratively, with the use of heavy woods, dark finishes and rich materials.
I love that we as a society, have deconstructed that and have moved back to the natural look in our homes. Woods have become brighter, materials are lighter and it’s as if society has gained a renewed appreciation for nature.
On a more general note, I truly love that use of colour has come out of the shadows and we, as designers, are far more comfortable with using bright, vibrant, saturated colour in our projects and that the historically muted colour palette that has dominated what was considered “fine design” has faded. Colour is joy. Don’t be afraid to use colour in your homes. Hits of colour are no longer restricted to throw pillows or accents. Have fun when designing your space. Colour is a great way to give a completely new personality to any space.
9. How do you stay ahead of the curve?
This is where my type A personality comes in handy! To be a successful designer, as in any profession, you must be on top of what is hot and what is not.
It is a well known fact that fashion dictates the trends we see in Interior Design. Typically, what we see on a runway this year, will inspire an interior design trend the following season.
This what a topic I just touched on my last Cityline episode. Keeping up with fashion, undoubtedly, keeps my design sense on trend and helps to bring the ideas my clients see on the runways, to fruition in their homes.
Secondly, but just as important, I have always and will always be accessible to my clientele. When growing a business, many designers loose sight of the real success in a project, a client’s happiness. I have always and will always meet with a client myself and will always be in the loop when it comes to my clients, wether or not I myself am leading the project. Personally keeping on top of all projects is a staple to my success.
10. Words to live by…
"Life is in the details, style accordingly", began as my company motto and has evolved into my life mantra.
Success in anything you do, is really a compilation of the small details that make up the bigger picture. Pay special attention to the smaller details in life, and and overall success in whatever you do, is much easier to attain.