First let me introduce myself; I’m Adriana, the founder, and Principal Designer of Adriana Pietropaolo Design (APD for short). I have been in the design industry for a decade now. (yikes!) I started off in small boutique residential firms and went on to work at global interior design and architecture studios. That is where I carved out a niche working on hospitality projects and more unique corporate interiors (think your swanky office café, restaurant, radio studio or flex space that has hotel or restaurant vibes).
Did I always know I wanted to be a designer? Gosh no! I had dreams of becoming the next Celine Dion, but what a lofty goal! I had no idea what I wanted to do at 17, but I was amazed by shows like “Love it or List it” and “While You Were Out”, which inspired me to apply for Interior Design school in Toronto. At the end of a competitive application process - I got in and I freaked out!
Was this it? Am I niching my life too soon?
So instead of accepting, I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree at U of T and that introduced me to a never-ending love for Fine Art History, Italian and - well Italy! I continued to immerse myself in Art history until I graduated, and I reapplied to ID school. I pushed through and completed a second university degree from Metropolitan Toronto University (formerly known as Ryerson School of Interior Design).
I interned at two small boutique residential interior design firms, until I got my dream job at a large international studio. I worked here for over five years with incredible leaders and colleagues, and amazing projects, including one that I still love dearly and that won an ARIDO award. Next, I moved to another large international studio specializing in hospitality design and multi-dwelling buildings. I spent over two years learning everything I could and finessing my craft.
In early 2020, right before the pandemic exploded in North America, I had left to go on maternity leave. I took on side residential jobs that came my way and began listening to design podcasts on my daily stroller walks. These small residential projects kept my love of design and its application alive while handling all the new comings of motherhood - and surviving in a pandemic.
As the pandemic continued and my maternity leave was coming to an end, the need to have more flexibility in my life became more important than ever. I also started to reflect on how I like to work and realized that I love being my own boss. Early in my career I loved leading projects and having a higher level of autonomy on them (my Type A personality is showing). All this put together lead me to make a move I never thought I’d make – starting my own Interior Design Studio. Because if not now? When? And why not now?!
I saw an opportunity to build a business that could serve the residential market in addition to corporate and hospitality, but with a clear and defined approach.
So here I am - a full-service, multi-disciplinary interior design studio - serving residential, hospitality and corporate interiors. The reason why I stay so passionately connected to design, is because I know that through intentional and thoughtful interior design decisions, you can change someone's life! This kind of connection is incredibly special and fulfilling. APD's mission is to be approachable, transparent, and informative with every client and project. We place function, aesthetics, and experience all on the same pedestal.
As I dove into the world of residential design, it began to feel like I had entered the Wild Wild West. I found a whole different set of rules, (or lack there of) from what I was used to in corporate design. All these holes in the design process jumped out at me. Designers, homeowners, and contractors all had different standards and expectations of one and other. Homeowners are being ghosted and swindled by the people they hire, designers are charging the bare minimum for their services, and everyone is terrified of renovations. These are all problems that my corporate experience has taught me to prevent and navigate. It became clear to me that if our industry continues this way, we end up doing a disservice to interior designers everywhere.
This made me reflect further and finally sit down to think about all these questions I’ve been asking myself for years...
- Why do people think we only pick pillows and paint colours, and scoff at how ‘easy’ that is?
- Why are Architects viewed as more highly esteemed than Interior Designers?
- Why is this field primarily full of persons who identify as women?
- Why do people think designers are unattainable and snobby?
- Why isn’t the residential design sector as regulated as the corporate design sector is?
- What are the professional associations in the design industry doing for us as a collective?
- Did I even need to go to school for this, or be certified to practice Interior Design?
I believe that good design should be accessible to everyone. In our homes, our workplace or whatever space we find ourselves in. We can make design more accessible by breaking down barriers. I want to be the designer pulling away the curtains, and that starts with this blog! Here you can expect nothing but authentic, transparent, and educational pieces about this industry and its processes. I promise to take you behind the scenes and be brutally honest about what I see and the questions I ask myself. This is in hopes of helping a larger audience understand what Interior Designers do!
Woooof big goals there!
It’s been a wild ride. But I am so proud of where I am. This journey is only beginning, and I’m honoured you’re even here reading this little starting piece of APD history.
I hope you enjoy sitting at this honest and open design table.