Casa Diseno Design Star Interview

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just in case y'all missed the announcement I blasted on my facebook this morning: My little (but lengthy, you know how I do) chit-chat with the kind folks at Casa Diseno Blog. Here I am once again detailing my life story and how lil' ol' me came to be...Hope you likey!

TL: Tell us a little bit about yourself. You know, who you are, where you are from, how life was growing up.
JK: I was born in New Orleans, LA. I am half Vietnamese/ half Chinese and was raised by a liberal mother and traditional father who immigrated to the states from Vietnam in the late 70′s. Both parents were chefs and restaurateurs so growing up, we would scour the city for the best eats from varying cuisines. Whether the influence was Asian, French, Italian, American etc. , my parents appreciated it all and I grew up a total foodie as a result. I developed my passion for the arts first through food, then simultaneously through fashion and design as a result of the significant exposure to interesting and diverse cultures.

TL: Growing up did you have a knack for interior design?
JK: I definitely had a very confident perception of what I considered “stylish” growing up. I would re-arrange my childhood bedroom every month or so to keep it fresh and dynamic. I constantly updated the space to reflect my changing moods and slowly migrated this sensibility to the rest of the home as a result. So to me, that “knack” for interior design is simply what I would relate to as an affinity for personalizing space.

TL: At what point did you realize you wanted to become an interior designer?
JK: I always knew in my heart that I would end up in a creative field one way or another. My first semester in design school is where I understood that educating myself would be the initial step into realizing this natural progression. Only then was I able to comprehend the difference between designing as a hobby or as a full blown career. I loved that continuing on this path became a mixture of both and feel blessed that I am able to design spaces and create experiences for a living. This may not be the path for everyone, but it was most certainly mine.

TL: Tell us about your journey in becoming a designer
JK: After graduating with a BA in Social Psychology, I took some time to consider whether I would continue on the Psych path and obtain a doctorate (having once wanted to endeavor becoming a psychologist), or pursue a career in design. I obviously took the latter route and attended the Art Institute of CA, Orange County. I briefly interned for Kelly Wearstler in Los Angeles in my final semester. My love for hospitality design was quickly substantiated and upon graduating I immediately took a position as a designer for Remedios Siembieda in Long Beach, CA. We designed high end 4-5 star resorts, hotels, and casinos domestically and internationally. Our clients include City Center in Las Vegas, the W hotel brand, Mandarin Orientals, Four Seasons, and the Park Hyatt to name a few. I developed a particular passion for luxury hospitality design because of the psychology behind designing spaces to elicit public experiences versus designing private residences for a more personal response. I love to design both but if I had to specialize in one, it would definitely be hospitality.

TL: What hardships did/have you faced?
JK: During the midst of the economic recession, the hospitality industry took a major hit and I was laid off from my position at Remedios Siembieda (along with some colleagues and friends from other firms). Everyone was out of a job and sadly no one was hiring. At that time, I managed to stay focused on my craft and decided to continue on the dream of developing my own company and marketing myself to fulfill whatever demand was existing in this field. I began to design private condos, lofts, small offices in the interim and am fortunate enough to still be doing this today.

TL: What was the project or “defining moment” in your career when you received recognition as a notable designer?
JK: My first (and definitely not last) nightclub under the direction of my own firm: Avec in Huntington Beach, CA. This was the first hospitality project that I solely executed from inception to end; creating everything from the initial concept, to construction documents, to FF&E, to architectural detailing, to the demising and re-building of the interior space. I was fortunate enough to collaborate with an inspired team of owners that supported my vision through and through. They allowed me the utmost creative license to complete a conceptual fantasy I had only potentially envisioned for this space. Coupled with the owners’ commercial expertise, we were able to create a nightclub that currently boasts sell-out crowds and major headliners every weekend since opening. Having lived (and partied) in Southern California for quite some time, I felt a certain responsibility to my hometown to create an environment that rivals the best of the nightclubs the city has to offer. Avec has been so graciously embraced by our community and it’s instant and growing success is still a very proud moment in my career.

TL: Tell us more about Julie Khuu Interior Design (JKID)
JK: I started out designing for friends and family in the early 2000′s. JKID, Julie Khuu Interior Design officially became a business entity in 2008. JKID is a full-service interior design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial, and residential design currently servicing Orange County and the greater Los Angeles Area. Our projects include everything from small home offices to large-scale nightclubs so please visit our site for a sneak peek into our growing portfolio. 

All my clients have been from referrals. One friend sees a client’s space/ home, inquires about my services, contracts me, and the cycle starts all over again. I’m very fortunate to have designed for creative types who appreciate the value of inspired spaces developed from my own specific JKID perspective. After all, clients take on the responsibility of choosing a compatible designer just as the designer has the responsibility to please their clients. It’s this collaboration of efforts that keeps me motivated on every project.

Tunic: Free People Earrings: Kenneth Cole 

TL: What made you audition for Design Star?
JK: The first and most obvious reason being that I auditioned to win my own show on HGTV. I love that HGTV makes interior design accessible to everyone, not just for the elite and affluent. Anyone can exist amongst inspired designs and I wanted to be an integral part in helping the public achieve that luxury. The second being that the timing was perfect. I had just completed the design of Avec, I hadn’t committed to any other projects, and in my heart I knew this was the next step that I was destined to take in my career. At that time, the design stars were all aligned. I don’t want to sound like a crazy person, but timing is everything and trusting my instincts have gotten me this far. I had nothing to lose. Except maybe my right mind 

TL: What can viewers expect from this season?
JK: You can expect this season to be completely different from seasons past. The format has been updated to reflect insane challenges, extreme competition, and dynamic drama as a result. We’ve got some amazing work created by the best of the best in this competition. You’ll have to tune in to get all your drama and design fix in one

TL: Finally, how has Design Star changed your life?
JK: My creative vision and designs are now accessible to Design Star fans all over the nation and for that, I am extremely grateful. I was selected to represent my design perspective in a national competition for a dream job that I still can’t believe I have the good fortune to be a part of. I’m still reeling over the luck and I can’t wait to see what develops

To view this interview in all it's entirety, visit Casa Diseno Blog
Thank you so much Tanvier for your interest in our show. We love our fans!!


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  1. You are so amazing Jules! Truly an inspiration! Thank you! Keep doing it girl!!

  2. Aww BIG THANKS for your support em!! xoxo


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