Finding the “wow factor” with designer Deana Lenz

For interior designer Deana Lenz, creating a memorable living space goes beyond selecting furniture and finishes. The key, she says, is finding that elusive “wow factor” that elevates a project from mundane to extraordinary. Where does a designer like Lenz turn to find it? This week on Disruptive Design DNN Editor in Chief Courtney Porter sits down with Deana Lenz to discuss her second career as an interior designer, her sourcing style, and designing the unexpected. Click play on the video below to watch the discussion:

Lenz was not always an interior designer, but her journey to becoming one unfolded organically. She was always creative, working as a producer and director in the music industry. As she diverged from her hired interior designer’s vision during her own home renovation, she realized an untapped passion for crafting personalized spaces that felt distinctly her own. In the years that followed, she opened her own design firm which has blossomed into the turn-key artisanal firm it is today.

“I approached design with the same fearlessness I had in my previous career,” Lenz says. She trusted her ability to create an immersive ambient feeling, just as she created the mood and visuals for film projects.

Drawing parallels between producing and designing, she transferred skills like creating mood boards and managing complicated workflows and production schedules to her new role as interior designer. 

But in design, she was working with client’s personal money, in their personal spaces. This is where design began to differ from working in the music industry. Her ability to gain trust and navigate homeowners’ personal investment in their spaces became the invaluable assets that she had to develop. 

What truly sets Lenz apart, however; is her insistence on sourcing unique, artisan-made pieces that inject her projects with soul. From sculptural lighting by makers like Jason Koharik to custom seating by makers like Thomas Hayes, she shuns design cliches in favor of the unexpected.

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“You have to find those special wow elements,” she says, “Not just nice sofas and chairs, but pieces that stop people in their tracks when they enter a room.” She’s right – anyone can walk into a furniture store and buy the set, so what is the designer’s job if not to make it extraordinary? 

Her most recently completed mountaintop project in Telluride, Colorado, is a confluence of her strengths. Lenz elegantly fused sleek modernism with warm, handcrafted textures like the striking Thomas Hayes custom dining table, in a call-and-response architectural conversation with the slant of the floor to ceiling windows. The result is a space that transcends tired ski chalet aesthetics and creates a visual language all its own. While it decidedly goes against what you may expect on a snowy mountaintop, it feels just right. Lenz has a way of gently serving the unexpected as if to say, “Here, try one bite,” knowing another will be irresistible. | To learn more about Deana Lenz, visit her online.

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