Image: courtesy of Tiffany Thompson

Duett Interiors is a company you should know. With a knack for putting together an eclectic mix of vintage and modern decor, the Portland-based residential and commercial design firm is making moves. Founder Tiffany Thompson says she developed a passion for interior design at an early age, but like many of us, she didn't know how to turn a passion into a career. After executing creative projects at Nike for nearly a decade, she took a leap of faith to start her own business in 2018. The native New Yorker says the Big Apple has been a big influence on her design aesthetic. "Growing up in New York City exposed me to a world of design, culture, and art at such a young age. The melting pot of artistic styles and creativity set the foundation for who I am today," she notes on her website. Here, she talks to EBONY about her inspiration behind entering the interior design space, her process, and what makes a great client.

EBONY: Before starting your career in interior design, you worked at Nike as a global product line manager in footwear. What made you want to change fields?

Tiffany Thompson: I didn't know that interior design was a career path I would pursue. I knew I liked spaces and tying those spaces back to feelings and aesthetics, but I couldn't figure out how to translate that into a career. Sports and product design were a natural thing I was interested in since I was young. 

It wasn't until I had a successful career at Nike that I realized that I could venture into interior design and that it could be more than a passion. I value and appreciate the process of residential design and working with others to create something visually and emotionally fulfilling for them. 

What was your big break?

I honestly wouldn’t consider any of my moments in design as a big break. I feel as though big breaks are rooted in luck versus preparation and faith. I believe that I've had opportunities that are memorable. And every "first" moment is special—the first time I took on an interior design project, the first time I did a renovation, the first time I designed a custom-built house. I'm at a pivotal point in my career where my hard work and vision are starting to align.

Image: courtesy of Tiffany Thompson

How would you define your style?

It’s rooted in intentions and imperfections. I don’t believe in minimalism but rather intentional design with curated objects and furniture meant to transform the emotional language of a room. 

I love Japanese philosophy like wabi-sabi and spaces being raw yet streamlined. There's a beautiful balance I like to play with in the design that causes a harmonious relationship in space. I like saying you have to appreciate the sun and the rain. I think of design like that. Old and new. Laid-back and statement. There are so many ways to bring this to life, but it’s all grounded in an emotive feeling—calm, safe, peaceful, inspiring—and the story you want to tell in a room. 

Image: courtesy of Tiffany Thompson

Do you prefer to have full control of a project or work with the client step-by-step?

I like a balance. Working with clients allows you to create in a tighter space, with boundaries and guidance and consideration for how someone else may enjoy a space. However, having full control sounds nice, but it’s a lot harder to create a space with no limits because it's almost like, Well, where do I start? 

What has been your favorite project so far?

It’s probably my Minnesota project. The client was easy to work with, yet he had a sense of what he did and didn’t want. The best part, though, was the team and doing that scale of a project for the first time and successfully completing it while in quarantine. It felt like a sign of relief and redemption once it was finished. We accomplished so much during a crazy time. More important, the project turned out great. It reflects his style and provides a place of comfort for him in a new city. 

Image: courtesy of Tiffany Thompson

Who is your dream client?

My dream client is someone we can work with to create multiple residential and commercial projects from design to build around the globe. The person should be open to pushing boundaries. I like people with vision and taste. My dream client will always be Rihanna, so until it happens I'll just say my favorite client is Rihanna.