Member Spotlight

January 2018

Vanessa Deleon

From humble beginnings in her family's furniture business Vanessa Deleon Associates draws inspiration from her Latina roots and art-deco styling that strongly influences her culture. Designer, editor, lifestyle expert and ASID NY Metro Director at Large, Vanessa Deleon has been featured in several mediums from publications to television including SOMA, Hudson Mod, 201 Magazine, New York Spaces, Interior Design, Latina magazine. Television appearances include "Generation Renovation," “Designer's Challenge," “Design Star," the Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible” and the “Ice & Coco Show.” Vanessa recently was awarded "Latina Trailblazer of the Year” by N.J. Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Tell us what is new with Vanessa Deleon Associates!

There is so much that is new with Vanessa Deleon Associates. Too many things; instead I will fill you in on what’s next with Vanessa Deleon Associates. This week I am showing off my designs at the True Manufacturing booth and Coastal Doors, happy to be representing two huge companies in the Kitchen and Bath category at the KBIS Show. Very excited!

How did you find inspiration for this new project?

For the kitchen design at True, I was inspired by a little rhythm, a touch of brass and a lot of blue. It’s truly the perfect combination for the most extraordinary kitchen.

The inspiration for the Coastal booth is a spin-off of another brand I represent—Tile Bar "V-Zag," inspired by the letter "V" for Vanessa used in the design, a signature piece for me.

What character traits help you attain your success in Interior Design?

Drive, Dedication and Determination. These three character traits are what I live by.

How do you keep up with new trends, materials, practices, software? 

Lots of reading, in bed that is, newspapers, trade magazines and some design blogs on the net. ASID meetings and I attend some CEU events that I find interesting.

Are there any that you would like to share?

I love the WSJ-Off-Duty Section on the weekends.

Should one ever say NO to a job?

So funny you should ask, just this week my operations manager asked why I would say NO to a job?  My explanation: "if you know the request is not going to be good for the client and/or the designer (been there, done it and you know 100% it is not going to work) go with your gut." I went over the scenario with my operations manager and she understood and agreed. One of the hardest words to say for some, especially in business is the word "NO."

How has being an ASID member helped you? 

Very happy to be an ASID member. The benefits of being part of such a great group of people in the design field and able to share a common interest is priceless.

What would you be, if you weren't a designer?

At this point in my life, I couldn’t think of any other career—hands-down, Interior Designer.

To learn more about Vanessa DeLeon Associates visit:

Or follow her on Instagram:

December 2017

Hinako Nakagawa

Tell us what is new with Hinako.

What’s new is that I now call New York home. I relocated here two years ago after spending nine years as a set designer in one of Tokyo’s leading TV stations. It has been very exciting to be able to bring my experience in the entertainment industry to the interior design field. For the past few months I’ve been working at nemaworkshop and our team was recently invited by Renaissance Hotels to participate in a design challenge. Our design proposal was presented at BDNY (Boutique Design trade fair) along with proposals from other prominent architecture and design firms. The new programs of the Renaissance brand are highly innovative and allowed us to be very creative.  One of our groundbreaking ideas was the design of their concierge desk or a so-called discovery table. The table allows the guest to interact with the navigator (the concierge) and serves as an icebreaker between the guest and the hotel. The design included a massive marble table with overhead projection activated by the guests.

How did you find inspiration for this new project?

As a studio we paid close attention to the brand’s identity and to their core values which are discovery and play. Our design process started with story-telling by making study models. They helped rev up our inspiration and guaranteed that the final design would be meaningful.

What character traits helped you attain your success in Interior Design?

I believe that my strengths lay in my creative work. I have never been good at entertaining a crowd, but I strive to deliver designs that speak for themselves and are exceeding people’s expectations.

I’m also lucky to have experience working in creative fields on two continents - Asia and America where I have been exposed to different work practices that are culturally diverse but invaluable and enriching. An important thing that I have learned is also how to manage tight deadlines and budgets which key for our industry.

How do you keep up with new trends, materials, practices, software? Are there any that you would like to share?

I am lucky to be surrounded by designers from various fields such as architecture, fashion and jewelry design. And it is usually my extensive network of friends who help keep me up to speed with new trends.

Should one ever say NO to a job?

I don’t believe so. I look at job opportunities as means to broaden my horizons and knowledge. The learning process is a work in process and I think that it is always worth approaching a challenge with a positive attitude.

How has being an ASID member helped you? 

Since I became an ASID member, I have been able to extend my network and keep in touch with important mentors and figures in our field. The various ASID events and talks have facilitated my adaptation to the NYC design world and have made me feel more at ease in our design community. The connections and friendships that I have made have made my transition from Tokyo to New York smoother.

What would you be, if you weren't a designer?

When I was younger I was thinking of becoming an art teacher. Both of my parents are teachers and it seemed natural to follow in their footsteps until I realized I didn't like teaching. Now, I am very happy with what I have chosen as a career path.

To see more examples of Hinako’s work, visit here:















November 2017

Industry Partner: Alison Wittenmyer of Steelcase

Tell us what is new with Steelcase.

Steelcase has recently announced several celebrated business partnerships. Our new partnerships with Microsoft, Blu Dot, Floss, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (MG + BW) have been implemented into our New York Worklife Center in a masterful way. Products from these manufacturers have been integrated into our showroom to provide an amplified experience and inspiration to the design community.

What has been the number one selling product for Steelcase?

Of the recent changes in our showroom, there has been the most attention around our new signature Creative Spaces. These are 5 intentionally designed work environments that highlight how space and technology can be integrated to support the most innovative ways of working; no matter if you are working side-by-side or across the globe. There are three guiding design principals taken into consideration with these Creative Spaces; building a fluid ecosystem of technology, designing for creative confidence, and creating an emotional connection.

Where does the inspiration come from for your new product lines?

Each product line has its own unique story and inspiration rooted in the research and insights that guide the product design process. We always take on a user center design approach taking note of the experience of the end-user. Many of our current offerings are supporting the reality that the growth of powerful personal technology enhancements and escalating globalization and are leading to constant interconnectedness.

How do you keep up with new trends, materials, practices, software?

Steelcase has a global research team called Workspace Futures. They take charge of leading research efforts within the work experience focusing on the now, near, and the far. This team publishes primary research in our bi-annual 360 Magazine. We also regularly partner with leading research companies to validate and extend our breadth of research.

How has your experience as an ASID Industry Partner helped you?

Being an ASID Industry Partner is an ongoing and deeply rooted celebration with Steelcase. Within the New York market, there are always engaging events that lead to shared inspiration and a vibrant growing network of talented professionals.

What can we look forward to seeing from Steelcase?

At Steelcase we believe in constant change and iteration and this is reflected in our space. Along with the constant new products being highlighted in our showroom, look for the infusion of design thinking into our showroom strategy.


Learn more about Steelcase and browse through their product catalogue here:



October 2017

Emerging Professional: Indira Louren̉«o

Originally from Luanda, Angola, Indira has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the New York School of Interior Design. She founded I LOU Design upon her graduation and has been featured in established publications like Interior Design Magazine, Surface Magazine, Modern Luxury Magazine, and Chocolate Magazine. Her design style is sleek, soulful and contemporary. In addition, she has found an outlet for her creative expression in a style blog, “My Strong Desire”, about fashion and art, interiors and architecture.

We sat down with her to talk about her work and experiences and asked her to share some insights.

Tell us what is new with I Lou Design Corp.

In fact, quite a lot. Beyond interior and furniture design, I LOU Design Corp is now producing photorealistic renderings and virtual staging for developers, realtors, engineering firms, interior designers, and building owners. It’s just as rewarding to bring someone else’s conceptual vision to life, especially when it helps them make a sale or secure funding for a project.

How did you find inspiration for your newest projects?

I can find inspiration from anywhere and anything, but if I had to narrow it down - my travels, museums, and fashion are the biggest influencers.

What character traits helped you attain your success in Interior Design?

I think my upbringing gives me a unique vision and sensibility that lends itself to work that stands out. Creativity is one thing but it needs a driving force behind it, which I believe I have in spades. Finally, creativity and passion are great but they are grounded by my professionalism that ensures that the business side is organized and reliable.

How do you keep up with new trends, materials, practices, software? Any that you'd like to share?

ASID, Interior Design Magazines, and peers that inspire me are the main reasons I am able to keep up with an industry that never slows down for anyone.

Should one ever say NO to a job?

It depends. I am a positive person and believe in my ability, so there aren’t too many reasons why I would turn down a job. I think well-being is very important though and if someone else feels that the job is going to take away from their happiness instead of adding to it, then maybe they shouldn’t take it. We’re all different in that regard.

How has being an ASID member helped you?

The guidance and opportunity to learn from my membership has helped me shape my business.

What would you be, if you weren't a designer?

If I wasn’t designing interiors and furniture…I would definitely be designing fashion. Sorry, I’m a designer from top to bottom.


To learn more about Indira Louren̉«o and her work visit:
or follow her on Instagram



September 2017

Student: Yu-Hsiang Fu

Growing up in Taichung City, Taiwan, Yu-Hsiang was deeply influenced by his older brothers whose professional achievements served as a motivational example for him. He started his design journey as an Industrial Design student at Chang Gung University in Taiwan. However, his fascination with daily objects and their effect on people’s lives was soon replaced by a strong curiosity about interiors. After working for two and half years at a high-end residential and retail design firm in Taiwan, Yu-Hsiang applied to NYSID’s Master of Fine Arts (Post-Professional) in Interior Design program which he graduated from in May, 2017.

Yu-Hsiang completed internships at Input Creative Studio and multidisciplinary firm AVROKO. He is currently employed at Mapos Studio as an interior designer responsible for the retail design projects of the studio. His next step is to get involved in a variety of interesting projects and hone his film and photography skill. 


What is the best advice that you were ever given?

I was given the most impactful pieces of advice by my mentor and by my brother. They once told me - “Decide that your desire for something is stronger than your fear of it.” and “Opportunities come to those who are prepared”. Although they sound simple and probably a bit cliché, they keep me strong when I am faced with challenges. These powerful words help me set my goals even if they might seem unattainable at first.

How do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from the street, exhibitions, magazines, photos that I have taken and from Pinterest. I collect and categorize all images in separate Pinterest boards. That becomes a substantial database with more than 15 thousand images that keeps growing.

How have you been building your resume while still in school?

I'm always interested in attending events, workshops and competitions. I see them as opportunities to build and enhance my resume. While working on school projects, I like to push the boundaries and challenge myself to think outside the box. As a result, I became the Grand Prize Winner of the ASID National Student Portfolio Competition. My projects demonstrated fresh and unique ideas that amazed the professors, jurors and interviewers. Moreover, I got an internship at a leading hospitality design firm and several other interview opportunities.

What are your favorite new trends, materials, practices, software, etc.?

I’m interested in the new trends that are currently transforming retail design, including the connection between the online and the physical store and the new technologies used to enhance shopping experience such as AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), AL (Artificial Intelligence).

How has being an ASID member helped you?

As an ASID student member, I attended several ASID events and competitions so I could connect with various industry members and peers, and work on building my brand and reputation. I was impressed by the Student Portfolio Review Events, which helped me gain valuable advice from the mentors. Furthermore, as the Grand Prize winner of the ASID Student Portfolio Competition, I got the opportunities to network with leading manufacturers and professionals during the ASID Awards Gala, the SCALE student summit event and a tour of Hansgrohe’s headquarters.

You have already graduated and have found placement in an interior design firm. What comes next?

First, as a designer at Mapos Studio I am striving to implement what I have learned through the course of my Master’s degree and demonstrate my abilities and the value that I could bring to the company. Second, I will keep attending ASID events so I could expand my connections with more professionals which could bring me even more opportunities. Finally, I would like to further my knowledge and get involved in different types of projects such as industrial design, exhibition curating, photography, and projects that bring people with different backgrounds together.


To view more examples of Yu-Hsiang’s work visit
His portfolio can be viewed at


August, 2017

Professional: Allison Rothbart

What is the best advice that you were ever given?

A good friend once told me, "You can design your life exactly how you want it to be." She explained  that there is no rule book. If you like to cook, become a chef. If you love dogs, work at the ASPCA. For me, the one thing I always loved to do was interior design. I thought to myself, what if I could turn this passion and hobby into a career?

What are the traits that you think are essential for success in interior design?

My skills as a business owner were learned through my formal schooling; however, a lot of my skills as a designer were learned by practice in the field.  The foundation of having a business degree has been very valuable to running my own interior design business, Avenue Design Group. I learned about marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and operations management. However, professionalism is something that cannot be taught at school. It comes from within.  It shines through the genuine desire to make your client happy while creating a beautiful space.

How do you find inspiration?

I see design all around me. Especially when I'm watching TV shows and look at the set design - the style is often on point for the time period. I often can name the brand of each and every piece of furniture. This annoys my husband as I shout it out during a show! Also, when I walk into beautiful retail stores such as the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue, for example, the design typically exudes style, right down to the scent in the air. I see these stores take a lot of design risks, both with the clothing and interior design, and they always pull it off flawlessly.

How do you keep up with new trends, materials, practices, software?

Going to the D&D Building and 200 Lexington Avenue, as well as other trade buildings is very helpful. That way when I need to bring a client there for an impromptu meeting, I know exactly where to find the best green ultra leather, for example. No guessing in front of the client! I try to go to as many trade shows as possible to meet new vendors. A designer is only as good as his or her vendors.

How has being an ASID member helped you?

Being an ASID member is a huge badge of honor for an interior designer. Not only does it link me to a huge network of talented trades people and other designers which I can collaborate with, but also there are constantly so many great trade events to attend. Moreover, just having ASID on my business card gives me confidence that when I give my card to a client or trades person, there is a enormous team behind me backing up my credibility.

Should an Interior Designer ever say NO to a job?

When I was first starting out as an independent interior designer, it was very hard for me to say no to a job. I actually took on jobs for small amounts of compensation just to get my foot in the door. However, as you become a little bit more senior, it is vital that you interview the client while the client is interviewing you. It needs to be a good mutual fit. I have a list of questions I run through with them such as: What is your decision-making style? How easy is it to contact you and if so by what means of communication? Do you like to work in person together or virtually? What is your desired budget? Have you ever worked with a designer before and if so what did you like and dislike about the experience? Why are you not working with that person anymore? Etc. At the end of the interview, I take some time on my own to collect my thoughts about the project and if doesn't seem like a good fit, I am always happy to refer them to a colleague who may be better suited for the work.

What would you be, if you weren't a designer?

I'm head over heels in love with my puppy Australian Shepard, Bill. If you don't believe me just check out my work Instagram I would probably work with dogs in some capacity. Training or working at a pet shelter. Their compassion and love for others is unmatched by humans. And who can resist those puppy eyes?

For more information on Allison and her work head over to her website: