Designing with Intention
Interior Designer Joshua Smith brings light, love, and beauty to the world, one home at a time
Photos by Koby Brown.
When you speak to interior designer and life coach Joshua Smith, you immediately get a sense that, through his piercing blue eyes and the peaceful enthusiasm he exudes, he’s able to understand your needs, tastes, and wants almost better than yourself. When we became acquainted with Joshua’s groundbreaking approach to holistic interior design, we immediately wanted to find out more.
“As soon as I found out what The Nopo was all about, I felt it was such a poignant and important concept in today’s world. In my own interior design work,” Joshua reveals, “I am all about making clients more conscious about the objects we collect in our homes, and The Nopo’s approach to mindful, artisanal production had me hooked instantly.”
Born and bred in Texas, Joshua crafted a career in real estate for eight years, before starting to move into the design space. Growing up, his parents had always educated him on the importance of keeping a beautiful home and caring for your spaces, a concept he brought to each of his clients, rejoicing in helping people find the home of their dreams. When he bought his first home, he poured himself into renovating it, learning about decoration, and discovering a passion for design he didn’t know he had.
The step from homeowner to interior designer was a natural, albeit not an immediate one, for Joshua, who felt his heart “start to sing” while he delved into the world of interior design to remodel his first home. Following some deep soul searching and mediation around this, he finally took the plunge and went back to school in NYC, retrained in interior design, and ended his studies with an internship with famed designer Steven Gambrel, where he honed his craft for a year and a half. Despite the obvious challenges of changing careers, cities, and, eventually, going freelance, Joshua was never scared. “I genuinely felt this would be a large-scale contribution I could make to the world, bringing light, love, and beauty to those around me, one home at a time.”
What’s striking about Joshua’s work is his approach to design as a philosophy for life, making his work a true spiritual calling. When he first went freelance, Joshua spent a couple of years defining his own framework and looking for a way to marry his two great loves — interior design and spirituality, understood as the path to one’s own heart — into one cohesive vision. He devised six pillars of interior design (functionality, beauty, comfort, personalization, sense, connection), which he brings to each of his jobs, getting to know clients at length to understand how these concepts relate to their needs and their own vision for their homes.
“Before we even talk about design, I sit down with clients and go through 40 questions, some to do with taste and practicalities, others more generally related to their life — childhood memories, places they’ve traveled to — which give me a complete snapshot of that person, what nourishes their spirit and what enhances their connection to themselves and the world around them.”
Joshua’s understanding of the home as a divine space comes from a deeply traumatic time in his life when, following a “detour to darkness,” he experienced homelessness in his early 20s. As he slowly crawled back to the light, he worked hard to understand the relationship between body, mind, and spirit. “When I got into interior design, I found that the environment we live in plays a huge part in that triangular equation, and that too often the space we inhabit is just seen as a square containing those three elements, rather than an integral part of them.”
In Joshua’s conception of design, then, the home becomes a true sanctuary, a place where to seek refuge from life’s struggles, and an extension of one’s own personality and soul. For this reason, Joshua lets the clients’ taste and sensibility guide him in interpreting their vision, using his own aesthetics as a supportive structure, and ultimately making the whole process interactive and educational, reaching a true synthesis between designer and homeowner.
“My absolute favorite thing about interior design is establishing and working towards the client’s creative vision, all the while building a meaningful and trusted relationship with them. A high point for me was designing a family home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. When we got there for the first day of work, the couple’s daughters had written notes on the walls thanking us in advance for giving them a home, and to this day, I’ve stayed friends with the whole family.”
The forced home time over the last two years seems to have brought Joshua’s concept of the holistic home firmly into the mainstream, confirming his life’s work and encouraging him to speak more widely about his ethos. “Ultimately, if we consciously design our home instead of just filling it with random things, it becomes a reflection of who we are. An intentionally-designed space enhances our sense of purpose bringing greater joy and fulfillment to our lives and ultimately affecting our relationships to others and the world at large.”
To get a taste of Joshua’s life-changing approach to interior design and exquisite taste, head over to his Curated Collection, which he put together to create a mindfulness corner to celebrate this year’s Spring Equinox.