In 2020, Valerie Halas Design made its debut in the Central Ohio Area, but the experience of Valerie Halas begins far before 2020. Valerie’s vast knowledge of design and culture from around the globe, makes her stand out as an exceptional designer for any residential or commercial space. Valerie’s experience ranges from working on high-end projects in NYC, to a not-for-profit project in Tanzania, and leading user experience design strategy projects in Chicago, IL, plus so many adventures in between.
We had the pleasure of talking with Valerie and getting to know her fascinating journey. It was wonderful learning all about her education, travel, and insights. A true explorer, adventurer, and lover of all things design, we are excited to give you a look inside our discussion with her.
Valerie Halas Design, Q&A
Where are you from and where did you study?
I am originally from Western Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney (yes, as in Punxsutawney Phil, the Groundhog) and I went to universty at Kent State University. After I graduated, I moved to NYC and started working in small boutique architecture studios designing high-end residential as well as fashion showrooms and office spaces for fashion and lifestyle brands. Although I really enjoyed the design rigor of high-end design, I also wanted to give back.
I started working with an architect who was designing schoolhouses in Tanzania for the Africa Schoolhouse Foundation, a not- for- profit. I was asked by the foundation to move to Tanzania to oversee the construction of the schoolhouses. This experience piqued my interest in taking an anthropological approach to design by really understand the culture and the users. I then taught architecture and design courses at an Australian women’s college in the Middle East and then went to graduate school in England at The University of London.
Can you tell us a little bit about your travels and experiences and how that influenced your design style now?
When you live and work as a designer in other cultures you have to unlearn how you understand space and the meaning that space holds for you. You take an anthropological approach; research, observation and asking countless questions to understand the meaning that space holds for the people in that place. You have to understand how the users will live, work and learn in the spaces that you create. Also, to define what beauty means to them so you can create spaces that are beautiful while addressing their current as well as future needs.
When did you start Valerie Halas Design and what is your philosophy?
I started working on my own in 2020 right before the pandemic and officially formed Valerie Halas Design LLC in 2021. It turned out to be a good time to start my own company, as people were focused on improving their spaces since they were spending so much time in their homes. Valerie Halas Design has designed some commercial spaces, but the majority of my clients are residential. I truly enjoy the design process and working with my clients. I have a very similar methodology as when working in other countries. I begin with understanding my client. I spend a lot of time on research: understanding how they want to live, work and function in their space, what is important to them as well as what they are drawn to aesthetically so that I can create beautiful, functional spaces that meet their current and future needs.
As a designer, what is the best part about working with a trusted contractor?
The most important things to me are construction companies that are good communicators and well-organized. A good communicator is a recipe for success. This means communicating the positives and negatives. Also, knowledge is important when executing the design and construction.
What is a tool that you are currently using at Valerie Halas Design, that you love?
Chief Architect Architectural Home Design software. It allows me to create a 3D design that is so helpful for my clients to visualize the space, all the way down to the finishes, fixtures and furniture.
What is a comment that you have heard or received from a client that you love?
“You just nailed it —you completely got me.”
What are some questions that people should ask themselves when they are deciding on a design?
What activities do they want to have happen in the space? How do you they want to socialize in the space? What do they like and why? How do they want to feel in the space?
I provide a detailed questionnaire to my clients with visuals covering all the functional aspects of the space. I want them to really think about what they want their space to be.
We excitedly anticipate our first opportunity to partner with Valerie Halas Design and bring her designs to life. At NJW Renovations Unlimited, we were captivated by her story, experience, and design process. If you are interested in a home renovation or addition, contact us today to see how we can help bring your vision to life!