Our Young Designer series aims to inspire those who are yet to get their first foot on the ladder in this fiercely competitive industry.
Many graduates would give their right arm to be where 25 year-old Connie Condylios is. The interior designer at Greg Natale Design impressed her well known boss with her initiative and good work ethic.
She completed her Advanced Diploma in Interior Design at the respected Design Centre, Enmore, where Greg also studied before her, and worked for interior designer Thomas Bucich throughout her studies.
She explained how showing initiative and not being afraid to ask, got her where she is today. “The high school I went to never offered work experience but because I was extremely keen to get some hands-on experience, I sent Greg an email asking for a week of work experience once I finished my HSC. I had followed and admired Greg’s work for quite a while, so once I got a response from him, I was extremely delighted that he said yes! He appreciated my work ethic and called me back for some part-time work. I continued this on and off throughout my studies and once I graduated, I scored a full time job at Greg Natale Design.”
See? Don’t ask: don’t get.
Of course, Connie’s design flair also played a part. “A good eye is vital, although on a day-to-day basis we use technical and graphics computer programs, so qualifications are just as important,” she adds. “A typical day involves client meetings, site meetings, going out to suppliers to source new furniture and fabrics, working in a team putting a concept together, emails and phone calls back and forth, all of which is quite fast-paced but extremely exciting!”
She was still at high school when Connie, who is inspired by Kelly Wearstler, realised every time she walked into a space she would observe every detail and think about what she could do to improve how it looked. “That then led to buying interior magazines and tearing out pages that were of interest to me and filing them in a folder which quickly became a large collection of magazine cuttings.”
Connie describes Greg as the most passionate, daring, knowledgeable person she has ever met, who has taught her to push boundaries. “Each day I learn something new from him, but one thing I will never forget him telling me, is to fight for your designs like they are your children. In interior design it’s important that you think outside the box and when doing this, there will quite often be something or someone that gets in the way. One of the many things I admire about Greg is his motivation and constant encouragement to be different and avoid the safe option.”
Convincing clients to trust her, as the professional, when they struggle to visualise an end result, can be challenging. And Connie says many people confuse interior design with interior decorating. “A lot of our work does involve decorating, but it also touches on the nitty gritty details, for example the detail involved in constructing joinery. People often think our day consists of choosing paint colours and cushion fabrics, but there is a lot more involved.”
Connie’s top advice? “Doing work experience is a great way to get your foot in the door and if it doesn’t lead to something in the future, stay positive and keep trying all possible avenues.”
In five years’ time, she’d love to be working in a different city, interstate or even internationally!
Favourite magazines and blogs for interior inspiration: Belle Magazine and, aside from Interiors Addict, Yellowtrace is another great blog which I follow for inspiration.
Interiors bibles: Kelly Wearstler’s Rhapsody, David Hicks’ Designer and Taschen’s city books.