“Never Stop Learning”: How Gil Walsh built her interiors empire

Meet Gil Walsh: A classically trained interior designer who has led over $200 million in design work over the course of her 30+ year career.

Outside of interiors, art, fashion, and architecture are personal passions that all merge to drive and inspire her creative process.

Gil is the type of designer who listens first and guides second, always putting the happiness and vision of her clients as a priority.

In her own words, “We live to showcase your lifestyle”.

Aside from being a commendable businesswoman and talented designer, she’s also a part of The Scout Guide Palm Beach!

Gil is a busy woman – and though she splits her time between Palm Beach, Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, we were able to catch up with her for an intimate look at her process, passions and personal aesthetic.

Her design advice, interiors and home collections are frequently featured in leading shelter, design, lifestyle, and fashion publications both in the U.S and worldwide.

Here’s our take with her from The Scout Guide perspective!

 

TSG: As a female founder who has successfully set out on her own and scaled a business, what are your secrets to success?

GW: You have to work hard, always be in service to your clients, and trust in your design team. And you have to continuously educate yourself. Read a lot, learn about art, architecture, and color. Visit art museums, and take a stroll outside to acclimate yourself with all the beautiful colors in nature. Having a firm grasp on the elements of design and how they work together will elevate your success.

 

TSG: When it comes to your clients, you speak to storytelling and listening. Share more about that.

GW: It’s important to listen to your client and learn about them. Learn about their lifestyle, hobbies, and things that are important to them. Then you take all of that information and create their unique brand. The brand is what tells their story to everyone that enters their home or space.

 

TSG: We’ve heard you’re a fashion lover. How does your personal aesthetic translate into your work?

GW: It all begins with art and art history. Fashion is an expression of art, and art translates into fashion. Being able to understand art helps you decide what you like. You must be able to understand art, fashion, and architecture to understand interior design. Personally in fashion I like mixing prints and patterns and layering, which translates into interior design.

 

TSG: If you could choose a fashion designer to collaborate with in the world of interiors, who would it be and why?

GW: Many of the greats in fashion design are people I followed and admired. Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Chanel. I love their use of tailoring and knowing which fabrics will tailor well. I also love their use of embellishments.

 

TSG: Where do you find inspiration?

GW: I love color and art. I look to nature and artwork for color inspiration to use in my designs.

 

TSG: What are some trends you’re seeing in the market right now?

GW: One of the biggest trends I’m currently seeing is homeowners moving away from the open space plan. When the pandemic hit, families were forced to be together twenty-four hours a day working, schooling, and entertaining themselves at home while the world shut down. People have realized the need for separate spaces within their homes, and the dining room in particular is making a huge comeback. They are also re-designing their backyard patios and creating a functional yet comfortable space for entertaining and relaxation.

 

TSG: Describe your working style when it comes to interacting with clients.

GW: My process is very simple. I help my client figure out what they want their brand to be by showing them lots of pictures of room settings, furniture, clothing, architecture. Many people aren’t able to articulate what they want or like in words, so the pictures help to stimulate their senses and focus on what excites them until we pinpoint their brand.

 

TSG: What should potential clients know about you that they otherwise might not?

GW: From the very beginning of my career, I have immersed myself in the art world. I’ve spent years in art museums and galleries, and I’ve read countless books on art and art history soaking up as much knowledge as I can.

 

TSG: With over 30 years in the field, what have you seen change the most? What’s stayed the same?

GW: I think the biggest change I’ve seen is how technology has become a huge part of the design industry. The software that has been developed helps us present products to the client, design architectural elements, and create realistic 3D renderings in half the amount of time it used to take. It takes seconds now to switch out fabrics on a sofa and show the client what it looks like in the room, compared to showing them numerous fabric swatches and having them try to visualize what the entire sofa would look like covered in that fabric. It also changed the way we search for products. With a click of a button we can search hundreds of items to find the right one.

Design repeats history and styles always come back around, just like with fashion. It’s important to have classical training as a designer. You need that background and knowledge to be able to do modern, contemporary, and transitional design, and do it well.

 

TSG: Why is a partnership with the scout guide significant to your business?

GW: The Scout Guide is a wonderful resource that spotlights my company and our work and connects us with an enthusiastic audience.

 

TSG: Can you share a project highlight?

GW: My team worked on a residential home in the Florida Keys that was built in the 70’s. They were many beautiful classical aspects of the original design, but my client wanted more space. We sat down with the architect to design a second story for the home. My team is regularly involved in architectural additions, new architecture, and landscape design. We bring a big team to the table to discuss all of the design elements and how it affects the look and functionality of the home.

 

TSG: Any advice for young designers just starting their careers?

GW: My advice would be to never stop learning. Your career will continuously move forward as you obtain more knowledge. Chat with the sub-contractors and vendors you work with. Many of them have been in their industries for years. Soak up their knowledge, take notes and pictures and carry them with you through your career.