Based in San Francisco, experienced designer Maria Haidamus of
Q: How did you become a designer?
A: I’ve known that this is what I wanted to do since I was young. As a child in Beirut, I would change the location of the furniture in my room. Right out of high school, I decided to major in design with no hesitation in my mind. It’s just something that I had in me, and something that I wanted to do all my life. Now, I’m inspired by the vibrancy of the colors in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the architecture of old Lebanese homes, and my travels.
Q: You speak so many languages and travel often. How does your fluency in multiple ways of being influence your design work?
A: I speak four languages, and I traveled all over, from Europe to Asia, and the Middle East to South America. There’s so much influence in my design and work from my travels and what I’ve seen. I love bringing in all of those unique finds and styles together. It’s shown in my work, usually because I mix different styles and periods. It’s not just a sterile or clean — it has a soul.
Q: How do you achieve a space that has a “soul”?
A: I like simplicity, and I like spaces that are livable and useable, yet have something very unique and special that just gives them a bit more personality. There’s a large project in San Diego where we used antiques from India and France, a few contemporary items, some products from Asia, and others from different places all around the world. Everything came together so beautifully — they married so seamlessly that it just makes that space very unique. Not only objects from around the world, but from many different price points — for example, we included a custom piece and a Restoration Hardware piece. It all just falls into place.
Q: What are your tips for sourcing from different periods and price points?
A: I trust my instincts. It’s no science, it’s just alchemy. I can’t put it into words. You just have to trust who you’re buying from, to know if it’s true or authentic. I have a good sense of style, and I just know how to put things together.
Q: What are your favorite materials to work with?
A: I tend to naturally go towards organic, natural materials. I stay away from things that are plastic or acrylic. For me, it’s always natural and organic, true, honest materials.
For more ideas on mixing contemporary and antique pieces, attend Dering Hall’s online