Dani Arps is an interior designer with quite the laundry list of cool spaces she’s designed for small startups. On top of designing the offices, she maintains Dani in the City, a blog where you can keep up with her projects and see what the CEOs of recently redesigned startups keep on their über stylish new desks. And she’s got just as much style in her outfits as she does in her living room.
We asked Interior Designer, Dani the age-old question: what does a woman want?
You’ve designed the offices of some of the most notable startups in New York, including KitchenSurfing, Gilt, and CodeAcademy. How important is the look and feel of an office to a company’s productivity?
Productivity and the vibe of the office definitely go hand and hand… Having a good look or vibe usually means, or rather, should mean that the space functions well for the company and therefore feels great to be in. Invigorating wall color and beautifully pleasant lighting have important functions as well. Employees spend so many hours in these offices and if the lighting isn’t pleasant, if the walls are too dark, it’ll hinder their ability to focus.
What do you like about working with startups over more established companies?
I love being involved with a company when they’re just starting out, the founders are super excited to have their new space tell their story and create a culture with that in mind.
How do you incorporate the vision and purpose of a company into the design of its space?
I like to be pragmatic at first with a meeting about how they work, what their teams are and what spaces they’d like to have. That in itself begins to create a vision of who the company is…how they work best is the structure of the company’s vision. I then can go back and add in more layers – with color, artwork and accessories to further develop and push that vision.
Have you ever had a client with terrible taste (who shall remain nameless)? How did you handle the relationship?
I’ve actually been really lucky! My clients have either known they have no idea about design and completely give me the reigns to just ‘make it look cool’ or they know they like a certain look but don’t know how to go about getting it, so it becomes more of a collaboration. This is one of the great things about working with startups, they appreciate that you’re an expert in your field – my clients approach me with my aesthetic in mind and wanting a variation of that for their own office.
Similar to fashion, some guys feel that if they don’t have a million dollars to spend, they can’t be “into” interior design. What would you say to those men?
Thrift stores, KRRB, Urban Outfitters and craiglist are your friends! I’ve found some amazing pieces of furniture from these sources for almost no money, you just have to take the time to look and be patient about finding them. Also, if possible, I’d say to save up and invest in one nice piece of furniture, whether it’s a sofa or coffee table, having just one nice item really elevates the look of your entire office or room.
What’s one simple thing a guy can do today to improve the look and feel of his office space – even a cubicle?
Get a really nice ergonomic desk chair.
What do you first notice about a man’s home?
Their sofa situation. A lot of guys have large bulky leather recliner sets…in black. Yes they’re comfy, but they tend to overwhelm the room.
What do you wish more men understood about interior design?
Interior Design is a real profession that requires technical skills, years of experience and taste to master. It’s not just throwing a pillow on a sofa!
Paint or wallpaper
High ceilings or big windows
Call or text
Grooming product you’ve stolen from a boyfriend
Razor Blade, of course!
Beauty product you’ve had a boyfriend steal from you
Favorite men’s cologne
Pheromones? Freshly showered man?
Calling your office or study a “man cave”: yes or no
Leather tufted couches: yes or no
Animal heads as decor: yes or no
Yes…as long as they’re papier-mâché
A magazine rack in the bathroom: yes or no