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Lisa Galano

Published on 11 Nov 2020

The Interior Designer who started her namesake consultancy.

After spending some time with Lisa during our photoshoot the first thing that came to mind was the quote “Find a job you enjoy doing and you’ll never work a day in your life.” - Her hobbies of traveling, vintage furniture shopping and art sourcing coincide with her inspiration process for each project, explaining her infectious passion and work ethic for design. Her love for art expands past her work, volunteering at Art Start where she shares her creativity with marginalized youth, offering them a space to imagine, believe, and represent their vision.

Lisa recently moved to Dumbo, Brooklyn with fiance Alexander - who also shares the deep appreciation for art and design, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Augie (who might be the biggest fan of the Lia chair out of all of them). Whilst we were lucky enough to photograph them at their previous home in The West Village, it was a privilege to see how they imagine their own interior, as Lisa admits “The easiest and hardest client is oneself”. Finding vintage pieces from a wide range of places from Bed Stuy to Botswana, Cambodia, Cuba and Mexico, It is safe to say that this is an eclectic and one-of-a-kind space.

Q: Did you enjoy designing your home? What was your inspiration?

A: Yes and no. I think for designers, the easiest and hardest client is oneself. I love the process of playing around with furniture in my apartment and living with the placement of things for a few days, then moving it around again. I am also very fortunate that my fiance, Alexander, also has a deep appreciation for art and design - it makes my bringing home more chairs and objects a welcomed surprise for him. My inspiration for the apartment is rooted in my/our travels and my love of vintage furniture. For example, I found the bookshelves in Georgia; the dining table is vintage, we found the pink chairs in a Bed Stuy garage sale for $100 (and ultimately discovered were from Bally, the Swiss fashion house, showrooms), I reupholstered them in a Maharam bubble gum pink intending to lighten up the moody colors. We acquired a lot of our art from traveling to places like Botswana, Cambodia, Cuba and Mexico. It’s an eclectic mix with a common thread of desaturated color. It’s why I love this Lia chair so much; the POP of warm yellow is ideal next to a special work of art and the “black-white-gray” coded bookshelf.


Q: If you could place any piece of art in your home, what would it be and why?

A: This is an impossible question for me. I don’t think I have a single answer, but I’d start with the entire Modern collection at the MET. Ok, not possible, I know. A few top picks: Ellsworth Kelly plant drawings, Cecily Brown’s Rehearsal, anything by Cy Twombly that is Untitled, oh gosh. Um, large format pieces from Ellsworth Kelly from the 1950s, especially in that sensational blue of his, all of The Water Lilies by Claude Monet displayed at L’Orangerie in Paris. Tracey Emin is one of my favorite artists, I first saw her work at Art Basel in 2008, and I was in awe of it; the words of her neon text sculptures bring my mind to so many places. Emin also creates incredible embroidery and textile art, which, in my opinion, are exquisite, and would love to own them all. James Turrell’s work, an ICON of our time and the play with nature, mood, color is an experience to appreciate, and how the experience is so unique for everyone who takes it in. Marylin Minter’s photography, it is so raw, human, sexy, and dramatic. And last but not least, my new favorite artist: James Perkins. Everything he creates is awe-inspiring (I’m saving up for one of his sculptures).

Q: How is the Lia chair, how have you been using it?

A: We recently moved, so in these photos, you see Lia as a cozy addition to our reading nook. We have been working on our laptop from this chair, watching the news, and I particularly love having my morning ginger tea or matcha latte in it. Since we moved, it’s in our bedroom and looks incredible with our collection of desaturated photography. I refuse to let it be a “catch-all” chair, so by adding a side table near it, it has become a spot of evening respite, and, of course, Augie still loves to nestle in it


Q: What is your approach when you start a project? What aspects of the customer’s experience do you incorporate into your process?

My team and I begin projects with a “kick-off” conversation. We then collect as much information from the client about their goals, vision, and the space. Some designer colleagues of mine are very successful with a client-questionnaire; however, I prefer a dialogue to run through tons of questions and see where the answers take us; color preferences, how one wants to feel, use a room, an incredible place they saw in a magazine or visited ten years ago. We use this information to curate vibe boards to pin imagery to the client’s thoughts and goals, which naturally evolves into furniture plans, elevations, sourcing, and selections of furniture, lighting, materials, etc. The end user’s experience is paramount in our design process. Regardless if it is a private residence, a hotel lobby bar, ice cream shop, condo building’s amenities spaces, it is so crucial to consider the use of each piece of the space. How is one going to feel here? Where will they put XYZ when they sit down? Children? Is this enough space to do X? For me, it’s always about function first, then making that functional space elegant and comfortable. That’s a successful project.

Q: Would you say you have a specific style or go-to colors & materials, If so what would it be?

A: I don’t have a specific style, but I do have strong preferences. My style is generally clean, rather contemporary, organized, with a touch of antiquity. I gravitate towards specific colors and materials; however, they don’t always make the final design. I love creamy neutrals with desaturated color, juxtaposed with rich jewel tones or black. I like to use unstained oak and walnut, but more often, I see blonder woods preferred and can certainly appreciate that species too. I love very loud and busy stone and strongly prefer that to anything Carrara-like. I love using wall-coverings as much as using exclusively white paint throughout a space.


Q:What is your favorite project you have worked on so far in your career?

A: There will never be just one. But the most recent project that I finished is Teo’s Ice Cream in Park Slope. Ice cream is a favorite pastime (and nightly fixture) for me, and having the opportunity to create an ice cream shop that is unexpected, playful, and sophisticated all at the same time was a dream. In this place, both adult dates and children playdates can happily coexist and appreciate the environment at their respective stages of life all the same.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?

A: I do. I am very fortunate that my line of work stems from my passions; so my hobbies are very similar to my day to day: art sourcing, gallery visiting, museum viewing, vintage furniture shopping. Outside of design: skiing, traveling (sigh), classical piano, organizing, my Pilates practice, tennis (a nascent COVID hobby that I’m now addicted to), gluten-free cooking (I was diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago), all things Augie, and whenever I get the time, figure drawing from a nude model. The drawing centers I like have been innovative in keeping this up during COVID.


Q: What does your usual weekend look like?

A: Every weekend has been different as of late, but I always appreciate and practice morning rituals: stretching, tea, Pilates, (attempt) no phone time till well after breakfast, a long walk or two with Augie, errands, lunch at a favorite neighborhood spot, a bit of work, a siesta, backgammon or chess, drinks with friends and making a big dinner at home or ordering Indian take out.