Furniture, fabrics and home accessories—Lillian August has been creating all things beautiful for the home for more than a quarter century. The internationally beloved designer, who dazzled an attentive audience recently at a seminar hosted by Robb & Stucky International in Naples, shares the business with her three sons, Dan, John and Michael. August does more than design furniture and fabrics. She also has designed more than 250 pieces of art with Soicher Marin, a Sarasota-based company that creates decorative and fine artwork for the home. The entrepreneurial August also produces a self-named magazine, which features her latest designs in American decor. We chatted with her during her recent visit.
NI: How did you get your start as a designer?
LA: I started doing commercial design, mostly office and commercial projects, and then I started designing products, wall coverings and fabrics. I’m actually a trained artist. I taught myself about textiles and my wall coverings became top sellers in the late ’80s.
What is the main focus of your business right now?
Generally our business is really about working in lifestyles—we’re primarily a life-style design company. Even our stores are extremely creative and all of my sons are in product development under our brand.
Do you and your sons have similar styles when it comes to design?
My look is probably a little more traditional. They, being in New York, Los Angeles and Connecticut, are into the whole industrial thing. I don’t do that. That’s very young and hip. It’s probably the only thing we don’t overlap on.
What inspires you the most?
My customer. I always say my customer.
How do you describe your design style?
I do what I call my fun glamour look, which is very fashion-forward. I love color!
Tell us about your design process.
It’s a process of a lot of things. It’s all done on computer now. I study all of the Paris runway colors and do extensive fashion boards—it’s all done with pin-ups and collecting references. It’s just what every designer does. You’re only as good as your references and your pin-up boards.
Is there a specific project that you are working on right now?
I show at the International Furniture Market [in High Point, North Carolina]. I have huge show room so I have to prepare for that twice a year.
What do you think has been the most enjoyable part of having your own design business?
It’s fun because it is a family business. Now my granddaughter, who is 16, is interested in fashion. Just seeing her be able to not necessarily be interested in interiors, but in just the whole creative process is very exciting—and all the grandkids have worked in the business at one point or another at a college level.