Angela Harris, founder and CEO of TRIO, has built her Denver, Colorado-based business into a fast-growing design and visual merchandising firm over the last 20 years. She credits the success of her boutique interior design company in part to her team’s approach – they all treat each project as an original piece, or “art form” as she puts it.
Following no cookie-cutter designs, Harris’ authenticity and artistic expression can be found in the custom interior designs she creates for residential and commercial spaces across Colorado, as well as her product collaborations with well-known manufacturers such as Phillips Collection and TileBar. She’s even found time to start endeavors like TRIO’s 3% initiative, where the company donates three percent of its revenue to various non-profit organizations, the latest being a new school for children in the Bahamian Family Islands.
Harris’ day-to-day routine keeps her busy with public speaking events, design projects, collaborations and business growth, but she doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon. Get to know her more, and her thoughts on the future of interior design in our latest Maker Monday Q&A below.
interiors+sources: How did you get your start in design?
Angela Harris: I was working for an engineering firm and felt like I needed a creative outlet, so I took an internship for the summer at a furniture store. They were starting to put together a design program, which inspired me to go back to school to study design, and here we are!
i+s: What is your most memorable product or collection you’ve worked on and why?
AH: My favorite collection to date has been the most recent Angela Harris for Phillips Collection. My collaboration with Phillips Collection is the perfect balance of artistic expression, authenticity and finding beauty in natural forms. One of my main motivators is a constant drive towards providing the best design and customer experience for our builder/developer clients by creating different opportunities to elevate their projects. It was a challenge, but so much fun.
Creative Challenges and a Typical Day
i+s: Describe what a typical work day for you looks like.
AH: By design, every day looks different. We actively try to push creative boundaries every single day to ensure that no two projects look alike, so that can manifest in a lot of different ways throughout the work day. We are a highly collaborative firm, so my day always involves a lot of communication or meetings with our team on various projects. Due to nature of our business, there’s obviously a lot of client meetings as well!
i+s: What challenges you most during your creative process?
AH: My biggest challenge in the creative process is also one of our biggest strengths as a firm: elevating interior design to an art form. We see each project as an original piece. That means every project TRIO produces has to look different from what we’ve done before. No cookie-cutter spaces or chasing the latest design trends. We believe in creating spaces that will stand on their own and stand the testament of time, just like a good piece of art. We do this by establishing a unique story and vision for each and every project up front.
The Maker's Favorites
i+s: If you could pick one person from history to meet, who would you choose?
AH: Lenny Kravitz! He’s a great example of creativity that stretches across boundaries. He’s a musician that is also currently designing furniture products and accessories. He’s constantly reinventing and innovating – both of which are core values for me. Plus, he just seems extremely cool, right?
i+s: What is your favorite thing in your working environment?
AH: Our people. Our designers are amazing.
i+s: What’s your favorite color?
AH: White. It’s not a color, but I love it.
i+s: Spring, summer, winter or fall?
AH: Summer, definitely.
A Colorado Designer
i+s: What’s the last photo you took?
AH: It was with my son recently at the Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light event.
i+s: If you could travel to one place in the world for free, where would you go?
AH: It would have to be Harbor Island [in the Bahamas]. I love it there because there’s an ease of living. The people are fantastic, the colors are fantastic – from the natural environment to architecture. Those colors and patterns are actually what inspired my new tile line for TileBar.
i+s: What’s your favorite city and why?
AH: New York City, no question. The energy is electric from the moment you walk out your front door.
The Future of Interior Design
i+s: What do you think is next for the interior design industry?
AH: We’re going to continue to see a lot of overlap between disciplines - interior designers becoming product designers and vice versa. Traditionally, these disciplines have been compartmentalized, but in the last few years, we’re starting to see a shift toward a more integrated approach. People working in these separate but related disciplines discovered it was a whole lot of fun to push their creative boundaries.
i+s: What advice would you give to students studying the design field?
AH: Keep an open mind and never stop learning. Reach out to other people inside and outside the industry to find new ways to reinvent yourself. Don’t get stuck in any one bubble. Don’t listen to your fears. Be bold.
i+s: What’s next for you?
AH: I’ve really enjoyed designing products with Philips Collection and TileBar, so I want to devote more time to that in 2019. It’s also my goal to create a wallpaper and textile line in the near future! On the TRIO side, we are, at our core, a full-service interior design firm. We are always looking forward to the next opportunity – the next project. I look forward to seeing how we can expand our expertise into new market segments in 2019.
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