Nashville has been making headlines as one of the fastest-growing and coolest metropolises in America. While the Music City is anchored by traditional Southern architecture and decorating, an influx of new construction and transplants has increased demand for both classic and contemporary design. At the upcoming International Window Coverings Expo in Nashville, I’m thrilled to be moderating a panel of three renowned designers—Lori Paranjape, Eric Ross and Laura Thurman—who are making their mark on this bustling region and beyond. Meet these distinguished designers and preview our discussion of business challenges, growth and what’s next.
Lori Paranjape of Mrs. Paranjape Design + Interiors
Lori Paranjape, affectionately known as Mrs. Paranjape, is one of the brightest stars in Nashville’s creative constellation. She’s recognized for her “new classic” aesthetic: a super clean, modernized, fresh twist on traditional design. “But at heart,” Lori shares, “my client’s style is my style. My role is to learn who they are, how they live, how they would like to live, and then help interpret that for them.” Lori specializes in luxury residential and new construction projects that, not surprisingly, take her around the country.
She also has her sights on what’s next for her firm. “We have worked on several vacation homes, but I haven’t yet had the opportunity to design, build and furnish a tropical beach house. I would love the chance to reinvent coastal style for a client’s getaway property.” There’s no doubt that this will be on the project docket soon.
Eric Ross of Eric Ross Interiors
Eric Ross has a passion for Southern decorating and calls Nashville the “gateway to the South.” He educates and designs for clients in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and places far afield. Eric believes all good design is informed by the past, and has built his business making traditional design relevant, livable and approachable with lush rooms that reflect the lifestyles and preoccupations of his clientele. Eric shares, “Today, one’s calling card is one’s home! It’s a personal branding message, and we help them communicate their message with an environment they never want to leave, one that’s elegant yet relaxed and comfortable.”
Window treatments are not optional in Eric’s work. “Drapery is like landscaping for your house. It finishes it.” His go-to draperies use Euro pleats. “They’re classic with modern appeal.”
Although Eric and his wife Ruthann, his business manager, are a delight, they take their design business very seriously. “There’s an exchange happening. People are entrusting me with money to assess their needs and implement my expertise. It’s a big responsibility,” Eric says. “It’s a focused, collaborative relationship, but I am decisive. I narrow down choices and give clients a reason to buy, to say yes.” This technique is Sales 101, he relays, but it isn’t taught in design school. However, he finds that it’s a must to move a project forward.
What’s next for Eric Ross Interiors? A lifelong dream fulfilled by publishing his first book, “Enduring Southern Homes.” Attendees at the International Window Coverings Expo will have first dibs on the book because its launch coincides with the Nashville show. “It features my Southern aesthetic and highlights 12 of my projects from farm to city. It feels validating, and an honor, to be published—20 years in the making!”
Laura Thurman of Thurman Design Studio
Laura Thurman grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from design school in 2010 and moved to Nashville five years ago. She opened Thurman Design Studio when she saw an opportunity to design for other transplants to the Nashville area. “Most of my clients have moved from other places and have immediate trust in me to design interiors that are more contemporary, not traditionally Southern,” she says.
Laura describes her aesthetic as global and filtered through a modern lens. She calls on her world travels as inspiration. Her projects vary from custom residential construction to renovations. All are “globally minded” spaces, incorporating pieces clients have collected in their travels.
In our upcoming panel discussion, we’ll discuss business challenges. Laura shares hers: “As an entrepreneur, feeling secure in our workload is a challenge. We’re always striving to have a robust pipeline and acquire new clients.” Laura is very active but measured on social media. “I like Instagram and Pinterest, and Houzz is valuable, but most of our clients are referrals, so my website is my most important marketing tool.” Laura has started blogging, which increases her website’s SEO.
Laura’s goals for Thurman Design Studio for 2019 include growing her large-scale custom projects and launching more brand collaborations. “We’ll be hitting PR really hard as well,” she says. “Publishing our work in magazines and getting featured on TV is essential to growth.”