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Good Company Podcast #6: Orlando Soria

by Grace Bonney

Last weekend I had the pleasure of sitting with designer and author Orlando Soria in his sunny West Hollywood kitchen. We talked about his childhood growing up in a national park (!) and his path to interior design, as well as the ways in which we all struggle with imposter syndrome and trying to work for more civility on the internet.

I so appreciate Orlando’s presence in the creative community. His honesty, transparency and sense of humor online (and in print) are so refreshing and the conversation we had about the way people in design try to balance their diverse interests was so needed. He said something that really stayed with me: “I have beliefs about certain things and there are things happening right now where I think people need to be aware that they’re heard, understood and supported. So I will speak up when I can. It bothers me when people tell you to shut up and nod. It’s upsetting to see because these are all intelligent, educated people who have full lives and full voices. It can be annoying to be expected to sort of just fit into one little tiny [box].”

All of us in the creative community have complex lives, identities and interests and being able to talk about these things — as well as all the fun and pretty parts of design — is so fulfilling. I hope you’ll check out today’s show and hear more about Orlando’s path to design, how heartache led to his beautiful book (which involved 30 photo shoots!!) and what he has planned for the future. Listen at the links below, check out Orlando online here and pick up his latest book here! xo, Grace

*Thank you for listening! If you like the show, please consider rating and leaving a review on iTunes — it’s the most helpful thing listeners can do to support shows and help us get support on podcast platforms. To download a transcript version of the show, click here!

This week’s episode is brought to you by Swoon Rugs. If you enjoyed today’s episode and, like Orlando, want to create interiors that make you feel welcomed and at home, check out Swoon Rugs. They will help you find the perfect rug for your home. Visit Swoonrugs.com for more information and to check out their collection. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

“I’ve always had really beautifully interior designed dreams. So every dream I’ve ever had takes place in some sort of opulent, well designed space. And it’s always been like that, even when I was little. It went from decorating my room as a little kid, to helping my mom redecorate the dining room in high school, to always having a nice dorm room in college, to making every apartment that I ever lived [in look] as good as it could.” (02:49)

“I didn’t grow up around people who had interior designers designing their homes. I was raised in the mountains, so it wasn’t like there were tons of designers running around decorating these cabins that everybody was living in.” (11:06)

“One of my qualms with the design community, and just interior design in general, is that for all of history it’s been for a top, tiny percentage of people. And it was never my goal in my life to be like, ‘I’m going to go find super rich people and help them make their house perfect.’ That is not interesting to me.” (13:52)

“Part of the reason I am so self-deprecating, and open, and honest about mistakes is that I want design to feel like it’s something that’s accessible for everybody, and it’s something that is not only beholden to a tiny percentage of our population. Everybody at all income levels I think deserves some design in their lives.” (15:00)

“[On looking at social media] As [an] ‘influencer’ it makes me feel like all the other influencers are doing better than me, they’re getting better sponsorships, their relationships are better, they’re more fit, they’re getting invited to more things. It just doesn’t make me feel good to look at. I’m just trying to be like, ‘Hey I’m a real person, other people experience bad things. Hopefully if you’re experiencing one this helps you a little bit.'” (15:29)

“I don’t know if you fully can [protect yourself online]. You’d think that people who put themselves out there and are really vulnerable with stuff would be really good at being like, ‘That doesn’t bother me,’ but stuff bothers me sometimes. Recently someone wrote me an E-mail, and they said in the E-mail, ‘Just FYI, I’m just reading your book right now and on some of the pages you’re next to white walls and that makes your teeth look yellow.’ I just wrote them back, and was like, ‘Why would you E-mail me that?’ That just made me feel badly, there was no reason, I just didn’t understand.” (17:40)

“At the end of the day I think what I wanna be promoting is that I’m trying to present a realistic version of myself, and what I ask in return is that you be respectful. Because that’s the least you can ask. I’m not a punching bag.” (19:45)

“It’s very hard to financially plan [as a creative]. Most of the creatives that I know are paying for their own health insurance, they have all these expenses that you wouldn’t have if you were in an office job. I’m constantly getting people E-mailing me, being like, ‘I’m a lawyer, I wanna quit to be an interior designer.’ And I’m like, ‘Don’t.'” (24:53)

“I have beliefs about certain things and there are some cultural things happening right now where I think people need to be aware that they’re heard, and understood, and supported. So I will speak up when I can. So it does really bother me when people kind of tell you to shut up and nod. It’s upsetting to see because these are all intelligent, educated people who have full lives and full voices. So it can be annoying to be expected to sort of just fit into one little tiny [box].” (35:30)

 

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