At the recent TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR event in Dubai, we caught up with interior designer and hospitality professional Julia Dempster, who told us about the biggest mistakes she has made in her career, and what she learned from them.
About Julia Dempster
Julia Dempster is the owner of Interior Motives, an award-winning design firm that creates luxury and commercial hospitality interiors. Founded by Dempster in 2002, Interior Motives not only offers design solutions to clients, but also provides a host of other services, including programming, conceptual, schematic and design development, FF&E specification and contract and construction administration. Julia Dempster holds degrees in interior and furniture design, and worked as a residential designer before moving to Los Angeles and designing sets for Paramount Pictures. Her first foray into the world of design in Dubai, where Interior Motives is based, was designing palaces for a sheikh. Interior Motives holds the belief that the client should be at the heart of every design project, an ethos instilled into the business by Dempster herself.
Biggest career mistake
After so many years in the business, it is no surprise that Julia Dempster has experienced her fair share of challenges while designing for clients. Given that they are what leads the project, she feels that a good relationship with the client is essential for the success of the project. This is why her biggest career mistake was undertaking a design project for a client she didn’t have a good rapport with, even though her instinct was to say no to the job. Luckily, the client didn’t keep up their end of the bargain and she was able to get out of the contract, but she regrets not listening to her gut in this instance.
After 21 years of working in the hospitality industry, Dempster has established a reputation of reliability and trustworthiness, but this must be earned, she says. She comments on the difficulty of starting a business, where without a reputation, designers are forced to take whatever work comes to them, sometimes to the detriment of their business. They are forced to keep their fees low in order to be competitive, and to take on projects so they can form a portfolio. However, she says that gut instinct should still rule the head, but a good way to back up your instinct is to ask around. Calling on colleagues in the design and hospitality industry can prevent the headache of taking on a job that will be more of a stress than a success, and Dempster says that suppliers are the best source of information on a potential client.