In its storied history, the Ivy League town of Princeton, New Jersey has long been known for the best in education, the arts, and culture. It has also—since 1974—been known as a showhouse town. But in recent years that aspect of Princeton culture had ceased, until last year when aspire design and home launched Aspire House Princeton, in a contemporary home only a few minutes from the Gothic towers of Princeton University and its surrounding landmark mansions. A portion of the proceeds from the showhouse were set aside to benefit the education and careers of up-and-coming designers from underrepresented communities.
In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with Tram-Anh Poprik and Vicki Kelly Gindi of Red Bank Design Center to learn more about their creative process in designing “Her Office” for this project.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Red Bank Design Center: The process of visiting the actual site of the showhouse, under construction, began as early as February, but due to the interruptions set forth by the COVID pandemic, we had numerous starts and stops and reevaluations.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
Red Bank: Our biggest challenge was most certainly the limitations set forth by the pandemic and the fear of the unknown. During the months of quarantine, we were working from home and the process of selecting, collaborating with vendors and meeting was increasingly challenging. Our Eureka moment was actually during the pandemic when we were flooded with calls for home offices. We realized that the “ladies office” had become a necessity in 2020 and we knew exactly what we’d dream it to be, because we were all experiencing it.
aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time?
Red Bank: We never imagined we’d be able to execute our vision in its totality during these times. We thought our design capabilities and talents would be limited, but in the end, we were thrilled with our tenacity and final product.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
Red Bank: For our “ladies office” we envisioned a room that translates to an escape both in mind, body and spirit. A place where creativity can flourish, the mind can rest with nature, and form and focus can organically coexist.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Red Bank: People may have thought so, but as designers, neither of us fear the use of color or the mixing of different periods of style and textures. In our room, We combined contemporary with vintage, color with muted nature, and metal and linen. It’s the marriage of the elements in unity that make for great design.
aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
Red Bank: This was a completely individual design process, but the cohesiveness in design was amazing! I think it was the combination of such a phenomenal group of talent, taste and lots of luck!
aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
Red Bank: Whenever we are approached to design a small space, we view it as a jewelry box. It must shine from every angle, feel warm and inviting, and of course precious and pleasing. I think with a small space you’re able to prove that it’s quality over quantity that really matters.
aspire: Describe the town of Princeton in one sentence.
Red Bank: Charming and classic… it was love at first sight.
This or That?
aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Red Bank: Wallpaper, but love both…
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Red Bank: Hardwood
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Red Bank: Beach for sure
aspire: Saturated Color or Black and White?
Red Bank: Black and white
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Red Bank: Midcentury
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Red Bank: Draperies…but if there is a stunning view than nothing!
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Red Bank: The English Patient
aspire: Week at the spa or Week of Broadway shows?
Red Bank: Spa!
Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House Princeton designers.
Photography by Mike Van Tassell.
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