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Female Disruptors: Beatrice Girelli of Indidesign On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beatrice Girelli.

An architect by training, Beatrice studied in Italy and founded Indidesign in Los Angeles two decades ago. The work of Indidesign is focused on the interior architecture and design of luxury and lifestyle hospitality spaces conceived and crafted holistically to create memorable experiences.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thank you for this opportunity! My mother is an art historian and I was exposed to visually rich experiences from an early age. As a young mother she brought me along to exhibits and historical sites since I was barely a year old. Flipping through art books and visiting museums from a young age has definitely shaped my visual skills and a passion for art and design. I have always been fascinated by the impact a physical space has on the user experience (even if at the time I did not know how to describe this concept) and knew early on that I was attracted by a career in architecture.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

When I took my first steps in this profession, I noticed a tendency to separate disciplines within a firm and many firms still operate this way these days. There was a group of people that plan spaces, another person that would determine the aesthetic direction for the space, others that would produce detailed drawings, another group would select materials and furnishings, and someone completely different would oversee the execution. It was probably an efficient system but it was disconnected and far from my idea of how a design practice should operate; it felt extremely corporate and, in most cases, it precluded design opportunities.

I was not used to thinking about architecture as a business (considering most architects in Italy are eternally unfulfilled and in therapy) and I thought it was crazy. Indidesign is first and foremost a design studio, not an enterprise. We look at every project as an opportunity and we follow a holistic process where disciplines are layered and the same individuals are responsible for the project from concept to implementation and everything in between. It is a system that allows us to be fully vested in the outcome, keeping us engaged at all times. We all challenge ourselves to grow and evolve with every project. Clients truly appreciate the continuity in the process because we are able to provide seamless communication and great attention to detail considering that everyone involved is fully aware of the history of the project. It has also proven to be a very efficient system because we have built incredibly large projects with very small teams compared to some of our competitors. I always tell my team that we do things the hard way perhaps, but it is the only way we can walk proudly into a finished space.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

That was probably when we issued a presentation for a fairly uptight new client with a section titled “PUBIC areas” …..instead of “Public”! Lesson learned: Always review the text of each presentation personally.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I was lucky to meet people that believed in me and helped me evolve by offering me opportunities that on paper may have not been commensurate with my experience at the time, but it worked! My most important mentor was an engineer friend of my parents who worked in project management for large scale international projects and showed me that there is always another world beyond the limits of your current one. If you keep an open mind–physical, mental and geographical boundaries can all be conquered and you can learn to spot opportunities anywhere. He is the reason why 25 years later I have a successful design studio in Los Angeles — 10,183 kilometers from my hometown, Rome!

When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think that disrupting an industry is most certainly positive when you can clearly perceive the need for positive change and are able to maintain a critical point of view by forming a vision for the future. In my opinion, accepting the status-quo just because conforming is easier is the death of the creative process and evolution, but in order to promote progress it is necessary to have intuition and the frame of a plan. Disruption for the sake of it or just because we do not like something or someone does not equate to progress.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Situations are fluid” This is what the father of my best friend used to say and it is absolutely true. Sometimes we tend to think of a specific situation as a catastrophe or insurmountable obstacle but this is almost never the case. Every situation evolves and you can promote such development. Learning how to pivot is critical.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

After two decades executing projects for others, I would love to be able to lead my own development and create a brand (beyond the Indidesign brand). Our most successful projects have always been those where we were given the freedom to test our intuitions without too many constraints. I was able to foresee many trends ahead of time and I think that we could be very successful in creating an experience with a unique point of view even in an industry that may appear saturated.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Most women in our industry (architecture, design and development) are confined to a specific role and while there are many women in the lower ranks, women still represent a minority among industry leaders. Men often see themselves as other men and tend to support the ideas of those that “look, speak and behave” more like them. I think the biggest challenge is to build confidence in an environment that poses women at a disadvantage and then find the right audience. My biggest frustration is when I am described as “the interior designer” which I find to be a very reductive way to describe what I actually do or who I am and what I bring to the table.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I read a lot and there are too many books to list, but I think that the most interesting podcast out there right now is “The Grand Tourist” by Dan Rubinstein. It is a very polished, smart, engaging and beautifully edited collection of interviews with visionaries and tastemakers in architecture, design, art, fashion, hospitality, tourism. Every episode is a delight.

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. :-)

This is not a new concept, but I truly would like to see a more meaningful global cultural shift in how people relate to animals. Animals are beautiful, loving, sensitive creatures, not disposable commodities and I am constantly in search of ideas that could accelerate a positive change at least in the new generations. It is a topic of great sadness for me but I have not lost hope yet.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Being from Rome we have literally a “quote” or saying for every circumstance and there are many that I use, some don’t even make sense when translated! One of my favorite quotes though is by Jane Goodall and it reads more or less as following:

“It actually doesn’t take much to be considered a difficult woman. That’s why there are so many of us.”

It always makes me smile and it is so true. I don’t know any woman that does not relate to this quote!

How can our readers follow you online?

BG: some of our work can be viewed on our website

I have an IG account @indithoughts but I am not very committed to it! It may become more interesting though, maybe it will be one of my 2023 resolutions!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.