From Computer Scientist to Interior Designer: How Renita Falana Designs is Changing Lives
June 29, 2017 11:45
Renita Falana Woodson has a fascinating story. She is a computer scientist turned award-winning interior designer. Renita received a "Best of the Best" award from the International Interior Design Association for her work designing Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, FL. In 2009, she started her own company, Renita Falana Designs, a full service interior design firm specializing in multi-family and pediatric healthcare design. She’s also a proud ArtLifting customer who’s purchased over 30 different works of art. Her sister's fight with Multiple Sclerosis has fed Renita's passion for supporting artists who are facing disabilities. I sat down with Renita to hear more about her evolution as an Interior Designer, her tips for other interior designers, and why she’s such an ArtLifting fan.
1. What is your specialty in interior design?
In my own firm, I do a lot of multi family. I also have an extensive background in healthcare design, but I do a little bit of everything.
2. How did you get into interior design?
By way of a varied path…. I have a degree in Computer Science from Spelman College and worked in the engineering & IT industries. While I was working at Boeing, the company paid for employees to go to school, so I tried an interior design certificate program. I thought it was a good mix of technical and creative, and it sparked my interest. I decided I liked it, and decided at some point later I would go back to school to get an Interior Design degree. I worked a few more years in IT, then I quit my job and moved to Chicago for design school.
I graduated from design school in 2008. It was not a good year for any of us, but especially for a luxury industry like interior design. I had friends tell me to at least get my enterprise set up, so I would be prepared should anyone want to hire me. I started my own business 2009, but until 2015, I worked full time for other firms by day and ran my business by nights.
4. Do you have any recommendations for other interior designers?
If you are considering starting your own interior design business, there’s nothing wrong with starting it and still holding on to what you need in order to get through. The same way you work for somebody else, you have to work for yourself. No one else is there to push you; you have to decide to make it happen. Do it, but assess your situation. There is nothing wrong with taking calculated risks. For 6 years, I worked full time while networking and taking on smaller projects, while getting my own business going. That way I was able to start my own business on the side but lessen the risk. I started mine in 2009, and I didn’t go full time until 2015. It was six years of side work.
5. How often do you chose artwork?
Pretty much every project they at least ask me about art. If I’m not selecting it, I will at the minimum be involved in the process. When I found ArtLifting, I thought ‘now this is great.’ As an interior designer, to me, ArtLifting is a creative project designer. Art is the finishing touch that makes clients love the space and makes it feel complete.
6. How do ArtLifting curation services compliment your work?
Being an interior designer is a lot like a project manager. We manage a lot of different facets of design, from the building of the space – interior architecture and finishes, to the finishing of the space- furniture, art, and accessories. I don’t think or claim to be the expert on everything. My husband likes to say, “Let the plumber do the plumbing.” I know enough to know I don’t know some things. I am not an art specialist. So to find a group like ArtLifting to whom I can convey my project goals, and what I’m doing with the interior, and for them to take that, and in turn interpret it, and then provide me with things I can review is a whole lot better and makes my job a whole lot easier.
7. It seems like you are juggling a lot as a project manager. What makes your job easier?
It makes my job a lot easier when I have a team like ArtLifting. We discuss, ArtLifting goes back and does the work, we communicate, and keep up updated with the timeline. ArtLifting is aware of my timeline, and knows what has to be delivered the clients on what dates. It definitely compliments Interior Design, and just makes my job easier. To me, I use ArtLifting more so as an art consultant. Yes, I make the selections in the end, but I’m not the one pulling all of the pieces together. I don’t have to go out and review all the art, because you curate and find ones that work for the project. And that just makes my job a little easier.
8. How have your clients reacted to the ArtLifting art?
They have been very impressed and enjoy the pieces. My clients are commercial, so it’s a little less personal, but I hear more from their clients or residents who really get to see the art. It’s to the point where I’ve gotten calls from the property managers asking for the link to the art, so residents interested in ArtLifting can buy the art for their own space. They like it so much, they ask to see where they can purchase it personally.
9. Was there a certain perception of the art based on ArtLifting’s mission?
At first, they were unaware of the origin of the art. So actually, my clients found out I used ArtLifting only when we put the information on the plaques. When my client, who manages complexes large and small all over the US, read the mission, she decided they definitely wanted to use ArtLifting. If we have to buy art anyways, why not support a mission that’s helping someone else, instead of just buying more retail? My clients are continuing to use ArtLifting, even as we both start on new projects.