Parterre Designer Series: Erica Diskin
Erica Diskin co-founded Assembly Design Studio in Boston, MA with her husband Michael approximately 10 years ago. Their work has primarily been in the hospitality industry, where they help clients revamp and reinvent their restaurant spaces to create the best experience for their customers.
Erica recently sat down with Parterre to discuss her process, her inspiration and more for the next edition of Parterre’s Designer Series.
Parterre: What made you initially want to pursue interior design? And what do you enjoy most about being a designer?
I always enjoyed putting things together and approaching things from an editing standpoint. I have a background in media, and then moved into production for a real estate company that had funky loft spaces in Boston doing large-scale production – movie sets, working with contractors, etc. That kind of production got me really interested in creating and building an experience, so my approach to design is always creating an overall feel and experience for someone. From there, I started consulting restaurants on how to curate and create unique experiences, and it snowballed from there.
One of my favorite parts is dealing with the vendors. It’s fun to create the idea, but I love the challenge of executing the vision. Getting the right group of people together to create and execute that vision is what I love the most.
Parterre: What do you feel has changed the most about the design industry since you first became a designer (or were in school to become a designer)?
I think one thing that has started about a year ago is this intense need to have a really different look and differentiate yourself from different places. Instagram has also become very influential – whether it’s creating an Instagrammable moment like a feature wall or creating spaces that are conducive for Instagram photos tends to be a real driving factor for design decisions for clients.
Parterre: Where do you find inspiration for interior design? And what inspires you?
I think it comes from a lot of the experiences I have on my own, just going out or traveling. And it doesn’t have to be some exotic location, sometimes it’s just a diner in the middle of nowhere that can give me inspiration.
I’m constantly looking at things and trying to then see how I can work them into a design. And things like Pinterest and Instagram, with all these people from across the world sharing photos and interiors of things you’ve never seen before, that can inspire me as well.
Parterre: What is your favorite design trend that you’ve seen in the industry recently?
I’m seeing a lot of midcentury cues happening, that are paired with really different, mixed and matched motifs. You see things like a midcentury chair or light fixture put in a rustic setting.
I think that’s really interesting that people are starting to play with different looks and are over the typical industrial feels that were really popular a couple years ago. Granted, some of those elements are timeless and are still used, but I always like to mix old with new, so finding that combination and juxtaposition is an interesting pairing that I like a lot.
Parterre: Can you tell us about a recent project you’ve enjoyed being a part of? What drew you to this project?
We’re just finishing up a taproom where we used Parterre flooring. This was an interesting challenge – rather than be like these very themed restaurants, the owner wanted a simple taproom that was about beer. It was a fun challenge to create design elements within this basic vibe.
We decided to include really elaborate, decorative, ornate wood finishes in distressed black on the bar front paired with a concrete bar top, and then there were areas with rusted-out copper wall finishes opposite clean zinc table tops. It was a fun challenge to reinvent the classic America tavern and show the mix of old-world finishes and modern touches.
Parterre: What is a common design challenge you see when designing hospitality spaces and how do you overcome it?
The fact that I’m dealing with such large quantities of things and always balancing it with a budget situation. For me, I’m trying to figure out how to make a big impact with certain budget constraints. I look for wood finishes that are cool but won’t break the bank and I try to find flooring that is affordable and will hold up. But yet, also, because of the mass quantity, I want touches that are unique and aren’t being used at a restaurant down the street.
Parterre: What design element do you typically consider first when designing a space? What is your overall process?
Typically we’ll start with an overall basic mood board – we’ll come up with a list of materials and supporting images to get that overall feel and vibe across. That serves as our roadmap and then we get into the floorplan. I love to approach them by creating little areas within the restaurant, but all are somewhat tied in and cohesive.
Once the layout is done, I pick what I want for flooring here, walls here, these chairs look great here. I try to just start with the floorplan and then plug in finishes once everything feels right.
Parterre: Could you tell us about your overall opinion of luxury vinyl and your experience using Parterre LVT for any of your projects?
For me, I love LVT. Any time a client says they want a wood-floor look, it’s my go-to sample to show them. The install process is so much easier and the price point is amazing for the quantity I usually have to get. For installs I’ve had in the past, they are still going strong even though they get heavy use.
Working with Parterre has honestly been so great because I can log in, order samples and they’re shipped to me within a day or so. I’m able to show a client right away and they can decide right away on what they want. One of my projects I just finished, the client had never used LVT and he was really uncertain about it, but now he loves it so much that he’s using it in a bunch of residential renovations. I think it speaks to the quality and how happy people are once they see it installed.
Parterre: What is your go-to product or a general design element that you try to incorporate into projects?
I always add some element of wood. It depends on the finish, but I use it to add a level of softness and make a place feel cozier. Lighting is also a big element for me. I look for warm lighting and try make sure a space isn’t too bright and fosters a soft experience. I’m always trying to make a space feel cozy and feel like a space you would want to spend hours in.