Rocco Marianni has been an interior designer for more than 30 years, but with the recent addition of his daughter as part of his company, his designs have never been better.
Thanks for joining us, Rocco! Tell us a little bit about how you got into the design business.
I was a young man getting a first apartment and I took it upon myself to fix it up with some decorations. My buddies I lived with and their friends really seemed to like it. Eventually I realized I had a passion, and started studying interior design at night at the Philadelphia College of Art. I graduated in five years and was able to make a lateral move from insurance business into interior design. Once in the business I worked hard and progressed from assistant to owning my owning my own business in about six years. I’ve now been designing on my own for 35 years
I now work with my daughter Jenn, which is great because she has a very young, fresh and contemporary ideas about design. Together we an come up with great ideas. My approach and her approach to a project are totally different and the combination of our perspectives creates a nice product
What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?
I usually start over the phone by explaining fees and we see if we are a good fit to work together. Once I get to their space I can ask what they like and don’t like and what colors, period, and styling. Do they like contemporary, modern and country? For me it’s not about a checklist, just in my head I know what type of questions to ask. The goal for first meeting is to get as much information as possible to see if you can meet their needs. The houses themselves can also have a big bearing on what happens, as do clients, and of course my experience.
Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?
Budget is often a problem. When I ask my clients what their budget is, they often don’t want to give me a number too high because they’re fearful that it’s too much to spend. But really they often come in too low and don’t allow us to do very much. But I show them what we can do for extra 10 or 20-percent and they almost always see the value. That’s just how it is to get a room designed properly. But remember most people have little experience and so you have be patient with them and their learning curve.
From a design perspective, some clients are unwilling to budge, or move forward and grab current styles. Sometimes it takes some nudging and cajoling, but we usually always find a space to agree. Design can be a compromise. I do the best I can to convince them because you can never let them make major mistakes.
Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?
The shows have influenced clients, and though they’ve prompted business, but they’re a little unrealistic. They can get a lot more done with a lot less money. Of course the shows have large subsidies and they become an unrealistic representation of what we can get done.
From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.
Not normally, but I did put up some old photos of Philly in a small room of a restaurant redesign. That’s pretty much it, but it doesn’t carry over to the home too often. Mostly law offices and places that directly benefit from being rooted in the area.
We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?
We do, too. Mostly use it in dining rooms, living rooms and open areas. Lots of hallways and runners that go up the steps. I use them in both traditional and contemporary designs. There are so many options out there that you aren’t stuck having just Oriental rugs.
Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?
Wool of course, and the synthetic materials are also very durability. But I don’t pick them for durability as much as they would in a restaurant.
We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?
They can vary so much anywhere from $1000 $25,000 and we have to focus on the look of the rug being appropriate for the room.
Thanks for your time today!