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An Interview With Shannon Barter - ID.3 Founder

Updated: 5 days ago

How has living in Tahoe inspired your interior design philosophy?

SB: My design philosophy is inspired by Tahoe’s natural landscape — the blues, greens, layers of granite, snow and sand offer unmatching color palettes and visual textures. I’ve lived in Tahoe for 30 years, so I often forget that what I get to experience and be inspired by everyday is not the norm. Nature molds my design and is synthesized into my work.

As an interior designer where do you go for inspiration?

Archetypal themes have the ability to transform a house into a home. I also turn to present belief systems and cultural priorities to inspire spatial layouts. Japanese architecture is a great source of inspiration as well, it’s selective and intentional use of natural materials and forms counterbalance a “more is better” philosophy. Great architecture does not need excessive ornamentation but rather interior restraint.

Is there an aspect of interior design that often goes unnoticed that you believe deserves more credit?

Convergence points of design details require more attention than what they often receive. With good design and collaboration, convergence points within a home don’t take away from a sense of calm and relaxation but rather recede into the overall design, offering visual layers and texture that can be enjoyed.

Any specific advice for someone considering hiring an interior designer?

1. Be clear from the start on how involved you want to be.

2. If you are in a partnership, decide on how you will communicate and turn disagreements into actionable compromise.

3. Hire a team you trust.

4. Be clear and reasonable with your time frame and budget.

5. Hire a designer that understands the building process, can execute a design package and has systems in place to handle changes professionally and with precision.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career in interior design?

Stay abreast of technology! Autocad and 3D drawings are now non-negotiables and soon incorporating AI will become the reality of interior design. Even with all of this technology one must have artistry, great skills of communication organization.

What brought you to start ID.3?

I’m consistently brainstorming ways to make systems run more efficiently. My brain likes to create semblance out of chaos so starting my own firm in 2007 felt like a natural progression. I believe in team environments and equality in the design and construction trades and ID.3 has provided the ideal environment for designing one-of-a-kind homes for our clients.

What are you looking forward to learning?

Oh man, the learning is never ending. I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years, I am highly skilled and seasoned and there literally isn’t a day that I’m not still learning. Interior design and construction is the learning gift that keeps on giving.

In the future I’m looking forward to learning and utilizing more technology to convey and construct my design ideas. I also look forward to seeing how homes will adapt to our quickly developing home automation technology and I look forward to utilizing my knowledge of history and art to create the connective and archetypal thread that can give even a large, modern home a cozy and embracing feeling.

What strengths have you brought to the firm?

As a designer, I am a dichotomy of many things. I am highly creative but my brain also craves structure. I fall naturally into an organic process, but I need systems in place to quantify the design vision. I’m mindful that my design inspirations cost money and are on a client’s dime. I’m always trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to get the most unique design that will be both beautiful and functional and I can quickly assess the pros and cons of a design solution.

As a boss, I believe in intrinsic motivation, but realize that there are times when teams need a leader. On a jobsite I know my role and understand my place in the process, however, when necessary, I rise to lead when there is no one steering the ship.

What feeds your creativity?

Nature, music, and art feed my creative soul. Sitting quietly and walking in nature are not only beneficial but have become essential to my creative process.

What didn’t they tell you in design school that you wish you would have known?

Budget, timeline and client needs are the main driving force in creating an interior. Great interior design is not about one singular vision, but rather a collaborative and iterative process that does not lead you in a straight line to the end goal of handing over the keys to a happy client.

How do your client’s benefit from you being one of the more seasoned designers in your area?

With design it really is about having seen so many successes and mistakes over the years. There is literally nothing that throws, stumps, or surprises us anymore and our clients have the added benefit of us already having figured many things out, so new situations do not have to be paid for by the clients. In a nutshell, we save the client stress, time and money and we jump to creative design solutions much faster than we did when we were newer in our industry.

What is the benefit of working alongside millennial women?

There are countless benefits to working with millennial women. They bring so much energy, excitement and vision to our projects and processes. Millennials aren’t dissuaded by working in an industry that has been traditionally dominated by males. They raise the bar for a better working environment — one that’s more inclusive. Having a multigenerational firm is also a huge benefit to our clients as we are continually challenging one another and looking at projects through multifaceted and experiential lenses.

What key elements must a Tahoe home have?

A Tahoe home should be bursting with inviting places and nooks where people are drawn to contemplate, pause and relax. Tahoe is a serene place and Tahoe homes are often used by large and extended families with lots of hustle and bustle. If we create nooks where people find themselves pausing amidst the fun, we have done our job.

Tahoe home essentials include:

  • Mudrooms - ideal for the winter explosion of gear.

  • Bunk rooms - perfect for accommodating the people that we host.

  • Fireplaces - bring ambiance and lounge seating for winding down.

  • Durable Materials - we want our clients to love their spaces but we never want them to stress about daily wear and tear. Durable materials lend themselves to relaxation and recreation!

What are the most important personality traits to have designing a home and working with both clients and tradespeople?

100% a designer must be kind. Second, they have to be a people person. Last, one must have to have a dash of perfectionism and conversely you have to have a ton of flexibility and open mindedness.

In a nutshell, what is your design ethos?

I believe that great architecture lays the foundation for a home’s interior. A home, regardless of style, should incorporate natural elements, a tiny bit of sparkle and the personality of the homeowner. Too much of anything is never a good thing, so I believe in the importance of counterbalancing elements; even organic and earthy needs a little light reflection and even glitz and glamor needs the counterbalance of grounding elements.

Aside from design, what are your passions?

I have always drawn and painted, it’s a gift I was born with that I have refined over the years. I practiced ballet as a child and used to teach ballet as an adult. Art, in its many forms, has always been in my life. Over the last few years I have been learning how to play guitar. It's a creative outlet that I love and continually refine. Learning to play guitar is akin to dance and interior design in that it’s highly technical, but to be good at it you need some artistic gifts. With design and drawing I have a gift, guitar not so much.

What is your interior design super power?

I was born with both creativity and a keen sense of pattern and organization which you need to be a proficient interior designer. I am also a deep thinker, often accused of being too cerebral, but after synthesizing multiple solutions with the goals and needs of the project, I can put the cerebral side away and design intuitively. It’s both a gift and a skill.

What are your colleagues' interior design super powers?

Katie is such a solid calm force. She has action without chaos. She is a cyclist that can ride long distances and I think she brings that same mindset to the team. She can put it in low gear and keep driving forward up the long design haul and comes into the finish just as strong as she started. Her background in textile arts gives her an amazing and natural ability to effortlessly layer textures and materials.

Heidi, is such a ray of light and fun and that is reflected in her designs which are sophisticated but not uptight. There is always an element of fun in her interiors and it is always fun to work alongside her. She is not pretentious and is always a team player, making everyone on the jobsite feel safe and comfortable.

I have known Amy since she was a child and she has always had great leadership qualities. She grew up dancing as well, which brings an innate sense of organization, commitment and creativity to the table. Her work is a synthesis of both the left and right brain. Her love of design started when she was young, and she has a great natural sense of pulling materials together in a textural and beautiful way. On the business end she is a beast when it comes to expediting and pushing our projects through to completion.

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