Shari Saiki Reveals the First Question She Asks a Client and Her Favorite Furniture and Decor Brands

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What is the first question you ask your clients even before you begin the design process, and why is it the most important one to ask? 
For residential projects—aside from the necessary questions of who lives in the home and what are the anticipated uses of each space—I sometimes want to find out my clients’ favorite places to travel, and preferred cuisine, reading material, and music. This helps me to build a creative profile and develop a concept of their design styles.  Many times they know what they like and what they don’t, but are unaccustomed to expressing it in words. I believe people’s styles are influenced by their experiences and what deeply interests them. Answers to these questions lead me to a design solution that is unique to them.
Are there any furniture or décor brands you tend to gravitate to the most when designing a space for a client (perhaps labels that well-represent your personal design aesthetic)? If so, which ones? 
For building materials I choose 3form. 3form’s incredibly vast inventory of decorative glass and acrylic products create unique solutions for partitions, doors, furniture, and lighting. Materials such as seagrass, capiz shells, exotic wood veneers, and strips of colorful recycled catalog sheets are pressed between panes of glass and acrylic, allowing endless creative solutions that are artistic yet functional. In addition, 3form is intensely committed to its path to ultimate sustainability. 
I’m also a huge fan of anything Thomas Bina. Tom is an innovative furniture designer who gathers materials from around the world to produce modern, recycled, and unique pieces of furniture. Furniture pieces skillfully integrate a combination of textures such as reclaimed Perobarosa wood, antique mirrors, rolled steel, and concrete.  The materials are used in perfect juxtaposition and balance with each other. These are timeless, modern heirloom pieces that help me to create warm, urban environs. To create a dramatic, rich-colored wall, I use Élitis  wall coverings. Élitis is based in France and produces specialty wall coverings and fabrics. What I like best are its bold colors and over-scaled prints inspired by Asian and African art.

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