Dominique Bonet Of LD&D On How Simplifying & Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier

An Interview With Drew Gerber

Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity
Authority Magazine
14 min readApr 19, 2023

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Your mindset is the key to happiness.

We live in a time of great excess. We have access to fast fashion, fast food, and fast everything. But studies show that all of our “stuff” is not making us any happier. How can we simplify and focus on what’s important? How can we let go of all the clutter and excess and find true happiness? In this interview series, we are talking to coaches, mental health experts, and authors who share insights, stories, and personal anecdotes about “How Simplifying and Decluttering Your Life Can Make Us Happier.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dominique Bonet.

Dominique Bonet has led LD&D’s design team since co-founding the company in 2008, using her expertise in art direction and set design to guide the company’s vision and penetrate the high-end design market. She previously served as an art director and set designer for one of Venezuela’s top advertising agencies Grupo 35, producing television commercials for a host of clients, including Visa, Mastercard, Pepsi Co., Ford, and Gap. Dominique has won numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bronze Medal at the New York Film Festival for “Best Art Director” and Gold Medal for “Best Set Design” at the London International Advertising Awards.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?

I was born in Alexandria, Egypt, but lived most of my childhood in Paris, France. It was there, in Paris, surrounded by so much art and history that I acquired my passion for visual arts and design. Looking at the architecture around me, both new and old, it was inspiring to see how it shapes people’s environment and how they see space. I moved to Venezuela with my parents, and there I took an even further interest in how design works all around me and began studying industrial design, a great career that I unfortunately didn’t finish as Franco Rubartelli, a photographer for Vogue Magazine back then, asked me to join his team, which I did.

I worked side by side with Franco for over 6 years as an Art Director in television commercials. During this time, he hired Salvador Bonet; who would later become my husband, to work in the production of a feature film called Simplicio. After we finished that experience, we left together and founded our production company 35mm Production (later, Grupo 35), which was recognized as the best Venezuelan production and advertising company 8 years in a row.

Due to the political situation in Venezuela, we decided to move to Miami where I started to work much less, only collaborating in some of my husband’s projects in any way possible and taking care of our kids.

My husband started to invest in Real Estate and my oldest son Alejandro followed in his footsteps. In this market, Alejandro was very successful, and he asked me to join his company to offer his clients Interior Design & Decoration Services as I had the education, knowledge, and experience for it.

Soon enough, we were working on different small projects until we had our breakthrough at the Marquis Building in Miami. There, we did a full renovation of a unit previously sold by Alejandro. The building got to know us and our work, and then referred us to other units. In 2008, we were able to start Linéaire Designs (now, LD&D) and have worked on over 60 projects at Marquis in our first years as a company.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Throughout a long career in interior design, there have been many interesting stories that have happened to me. From how projects have been started, challenges we had to overcome, all the way to the multiple visits to the construction sites to see that everything was, hopefully, going in the right way come to mind.

I wouldn’t dare to say there’s only one interesting story that has happened to me since staring the company, but all the experiences have given us something to learn from for other projects, how to make it better for the next time and how we could have done it differently if given the opportunity again.

It has been very interesting seeing how we came from doing small decorative projects to now doing our own developments, completely full renovations and working on different high-rise buildings in Miami. Being recognized for our capabilities in high-end design and the trust clients gives us to make their homes the perfect place for them has been very rewarding.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with many kind and extraordinary clients on so many projects that have allowed me to grow as a professional and my design style. All this experience has given me confidence to work on any scale project. For example, I am currently working as the designer for a full rental building for all of their units and common areas which is something that I would have never thought about doing before. It has been such a rewarding experience that I will miss dearly once it’s over.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Currently, our design team is putting the finishing touches on the interior design for Surf Row Residences, situated where Miami Beach meets Surfside. We aimed to introduce a new standard of modern, urban beach living with this project, and it has been extremely gratifying to bring vision to reality as we plan to break ground later this year. Surf Row a collection of eight private beach homes interweaving the grandeur of the classic brownstones made famous in New York City, Boston and Chicago, with a relaxed and contemporary South Florida twist. Through elements of nature and light, soft color palettes and finishes — from textured Italian marbles to French oak and coral stone — the design brings together wellness-driven dwelling with tranquility so residents can have a respite from the busyness of everyday life.

Our design in this project is thought to be comfortable, all areas of this houses are of good proportions to be pleasant and enjoyable, the location of this residences invites to relax and so the design must be in the same language in order that the future residents can experience this, feel in the right place, and find their home as the perfect retreat.

Through design and architecture, we are thinking on the well-being of the residents, for them to feel in a fresh environment that is surrounded by lots of natural light, soft natural materials, and soothing colors.

There is nothing like Surf Row in our pipeline right now. It’s a very unique project where we put all our knowledge and past experiences into one fully thought-out home with a superb way of living and comfort.

We have worked on residential projects that follow our design thinking to not be stiff, cluttered, heavy in colors and focus on making it be a relaxing space.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority on the topic of “How Simplifying and Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier”?

As an art director and designer, understanding space is my specialty. To me, decluttering and simplifying does not mean that a space has to become minimalist. I like to focus on atmosphere because it also directly affects our mood. Having a space where you get a lot of natural lighting and a connection to nature also has a correlation to our overall happiness and satisfaction. I think we need to recognize that our space is also art and, in that manner, there’s different ways of interpreting what about it we like. We must reflect on what brings us joy and tranquility and adjust accordingly.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. We live in a time of excess. We have access to so much. But studies show that all of our “stuff” is not making us any happier. Can you articulate for our readers a few reasons why all of our possessions are not giving us happiness?

Since we have access to so much, we tend to forget to appreciate the small things. We tend to accumulate things for an immediate need instead of looking at how it will add value in the long run. True happiness comes from deeper sources such as relationships, personal growth, and a sense of purpose. That is why it is essential to keep a balanced space and why to me, the most important part in building a home is adding details that enhance the environment. There’s a Swedish word, “lagom,” which means “not too much, not too little” that really illustrates this idea, especially in design. Lagom promotes creating a welcoming feeling in your home by creating corners of peace and highlighting objects that have real meaning for you. Whether through use of materials or colors, you can create a timeless aesthetic that isn’t subject to whims or trends and will not become outdated over time.

On a broader societal level, how do you think this excessiveness may be harming our communities and society?

When individuals and communities are focused on accumulating more and more material possessions, they may neglect the deeper values that make life meaningful, such as relationships and personal growth. Excessiveness can harm our mental health and well-being. Living in an environment that is cluttered, chaotic, or overwhelming can create stress, anxiety, and a sense of disconnection from ourselves and others. As a designer, my job is to help create spaces and experiences that balance beauty, function, and sustainability, while also promoting deeper human values such as connection, well-being, and creativity. A home that focuses on balance and moderation creates a comfortable and inviting atmosphere where people can recharge in solitude, make memories with loved ones and entertain among friends all in a harmonious space, a truly healthy environment.

The irony of struggling with happiness in modern times is glaring. In many places in the world today, we have more than ever before in history. Yet despite this, so many people are unhappy. Why is simplifying a solution? How would simplifying help people to access happiness?

Simplifying by focusing on natural materials can contribute to people’s happiness by providing a more peaceful and functional living space that promotes well-being and contentment. An inviting, calming environment with natural materials can foster health and comfort.

There are many ways in which simplifying can be beneficial, including:

1.Clutter reduction: Simplifying interior design involves removing unnecessary clutter and simplifying the space. An organized and calming environment can reduce anxiety and stress.

2.Instead of filling the space with many decorative items, simplify by selecting a few high-quality items that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This helps create a more intentional and curated space, which can contribute to feelings of satisfaction and well-being.

3.Simplifying interior design also involves focusing on functionality, which means creating a space that works for the individual. By prioritizing functionality, people can create a space that is both practical and comfortable, which can contribute to feelings of comfort and peace.

To summarize, simplifying interior design can help people find happiness by helping create a more peaceful, organized, and functional living space that improves the quality of life and promotes a sense of happiness and contentment in their lives.

Can you share some insights from your own experience? Where in your life have you transformed yourself from not having enough to finally experiencing enough? For example, many people feel they don’t have enough money. Yet, people define abundance differently, and often, those with the least money can feel the most abundant. Where in your health, wealth, or relationships have you transformed your life?

In my experience, there’s a great satisfaction in doing what you like the most. In my case, this has always been design, art direction, scenography and decoration.

Before moving to the United States, I was working full time at the company I had founded with my husband (Grupo 35). However, once I arrived in the States, my priorities shifted, and I had to focus more on taking care of my kids and being at home. This meant that I practically had to stop working, which was difficult for me. I missed the rush of working in design and the satisfaction of seeing my ideas come to life.

Luckily, my passion for design was reignited when Alejandro asked me to assist in his residential real estate business to provide decoration services for the clients, which was a constant request. It was a no-brainer for me, and I jumped at the opportunity to work next to my son and help him grow the business. Being able to work in design again full-time made me feel alive, and I was very excited to put my knowledge and skills back into practice. It’s been a great feeling to be able to focus on what I love and continue working in this field.

People, places, and things shape our lives. For example, your friends generate conversations that influence you. Where you live impacts what you eat and how you spend your time. The “things” in your life, like phones, technology, or books impact your recreation. Can you tell us a little about how people, places, and things in your own life impact your experience of “experiencing enough?”

During my time studying interior design in Venezuela, my teachers had a significant impact on me. They were not only great educators, but also true professionals in art and design who had a deep passion for the field.

Franco Rubatelli, whom I had the privilege of working with for several years was an excellent mentor in photography and taught me how to approach subjects from unique angles and capture their true beauty in a way that did them justice.

My husband Salvador has also been a great influence on me. He’s really talented in photography and lighting, and his support and guidance has always helped me better understand how to properly make a coherent design, in order to accessorize and decorate in the right way so that all elements play together.

For me, New York has been a constant source of inspiration. The vibrant atmosphere and energy is truly captivating, and the unique ambiance never fails to inspire me every single time I’m in the city.

What I love most about New York is its exceptional aesthetics, the architecture, surroundings, and brilliant inhabitants, who push you every time to be better, and to grow beyond your comfort zone. It’s a city that encourages you to explore and experience new things, just like when doing a design project.
I believe this inspiration comes from the diverse mix of people that live and visit the city. With so much happening around you, it’s impossible not to open your mind and broaden your perspective.

What advice would you give to younger people about “experiencing enough?”

As someone who is passionate about working in Interior Design, I would advise younger people to learn to look at things from a different angle. There’s always an aesthetic way of seeing things, but sometimes you need to turn it around in your head to make it better. You have to train yourself to do so like in any other discipline.

Another piece of advice I would give is to look, observe, investigate, and pay close attention to what is going around in the world of design. It’s always important to keep up to speed with the latest trends in design, fashion, furniture, architecture, and all related fields. Simply looking online can help you explore.

On every project we work on, we try to think outside the box, come up with new ideas and have an open-minded approach. It’s not always easy and some clients might not be willing to try, but as a professional, don’t be afraid to be curious and try new things, push the boundaries of what would be considered “normal” and see where it takes you. Thinking outside the box is essential to success in this field.

I always stay true to my own design style and vision, and I would advise all young designers to remember to be authentic. While it is important to be aware of the latest trends, it’s equally important to have your own perspective and style that sets you apart from others. Embrace your individuality.

This is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and research, can you share your “five ways we can simplify and declutter our lives to make us happier?”

Just a suggestion of themes below as a launch point as in your previous interview you noted every aspect of your home being tailored to meet your needs, tastes and lifestyles.

  1. Focus on what’s important to you. I have never believed that good design is equivalent to having only over the top/statement elements in a project. Overcrowding your space with objects creates chaos and discomfort. I prefer architecture that can be appreciated and has a cleaner look all around with the right number of accessories to add personality to every room.
  2. Your home is your sanctuary, so definitely have colors, textures, materials, and shapes you like and appreciate so you can give the right atmosphere of home. You should feel joy when getting home, the interiors must purposefully work for your personal comfort.
  3. Just like your space, keep your mind at peace. I’m not implying that everything has to be minimal style, which sometimes can be too cold and missing the warmth that is an important aspect in a home, but more towards leaving some areas clean to make a cohesive design, focused on the purpose of the room.
  4. Define your priorities. Think of the decorative elements that will take place in your home, regardless of size, all of them should be a curated selection, and need to work in balance, keep order to the space and make sense on its location. You should never just select random pieces just to fill the space, as you will always feel that those pieces don’t belong there or lack personality.
  5. Your mindset is the key to happiness.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could inspire a movement that could bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, I would like to promote sustainable design and architecture. I would like us to at least try to make choices that will have a lower impact on the environment, think about the health of the people who will inhabit that space and have a more conscious approach when doing a design project.

Every environmental decision makes a huge difference. It can reduce unnecessary waste, minimize the carbon footprint of the buildings and conserve natural resources. If we maximize natural light, airflow, and materials in a space, we could help uplift the well-being of many people.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

www.ldnd.com

Thank you so much for these insights. This was so inspiring, and so important!

About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world. Schedule a free consultation at WasabiPublicity.com/Choosing-Publicity.

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Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity
Authority Magazine

For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world