Dana Ruh from Bergmeyer | Exclusive Interview
Bergmeyer is an American Design Collaborative of architects, strategists, brand specialists, interior and graphic designers. Inspired through partnership, thoughtfully creative, inherently curious, and driven to fulfill their clients’ needs. Bergmeyer’s approach to design is empowering and ego-free, forming proactive partnerships with their clients and project teams to create a shared sense of ownership throughout the entire creative process. Interior Design Magazines had the opportunity to talk with Dana Ruh, the Senior Interior Designer, from Bergmeyer, to get to know more about her career and future in the interior design industry.
How did you get involved in the interior design Industry?
I grew up always being involved in construction projects in my childhood home, much because my Dad was in construction and we were always working on some fixer-upper/DIY project ranging in scale and effort – anything from new paint to full bathroom renovations.
I remember when I was roughly 8 years old we fully gutted our kitchen and my Dad let me help layout the tile in a distinctive pattern. I was enamored with it – from the detail and precision, it took, to the creative energy that surged through me as I laid out each tile meticulously as my brain had envisioned. I continued to volunteer to ‘help’ with the projects and my parents fully supported my growing curiosity for the trade. Years later when it was time to choose a major for college, it wasn’t even a question of what I wanted to study – I was unwavering in my decision to be a designer.
How would you describe your work style? Do you have any kind of signatures that help to identify your projects?
Given the breadth of project types I’ve worked on in recent years, I lean less into my signature style and focus more on learning the client’s vision to help design the space for the intended user. One area I specifically focus on regardless of the project type is finding unique opportunities to introduce aesthetically characteristic millwork pieces with small but special intricacies that speak to the personality of space and the people intended to use it. Anything from custom hardware, unexpected joinery details, or an atypical combination of materials – for me millwork offers a designer the opportunity to be expressive through detail without overdoing it.
Being in love with our work is always the key to achieving better results. Are you in love with this job? What do you love most about being an interior designer?
I do truly love the work that I do as a designer, no matter the scale or scope of the project. What I love most is seeing the incubation of an idea come to fruition in its true-life form through the design of a space. There is nothing more gratifying as a designer than seeing your sketch come to life in built form, and even more so to see the end-users experiencing the design of the space as it was intended to be.
What is your philosophy on design and life?
Really simple – surround yourself with people, things, and spaces that bring you joy.
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
My personal decorating and design style is a bit eclectic but still very clean. In my personal spaces, I love starting with a neutral palette and adding brighter colors and patterns with art and furnishings. I’ve always gravitated towards the approach to keep all of the hard finishes timeless and add your personality with the things that are easier to change down the road – practicality my Dad probably instilled in me.
All artists need some inspiration to work, and interior designers are artists too. So, what or who really inspires you?
It really varies from project to project, client to client, etc. I try to think about the design for each space so that it is beautiful and impactful but that it also suits the end-user practically and works well within the overall context of the location. I’m inspired by a lot of different designers and design blogs, but I would say I like to pull little pieces of inspiration from varying sources and put them back together in an unexpected way.
Inspiration is something that pushes everyone to create unique things. What makes you see the world in a different way?
People and traveling. I love to visit new places and see how other parts of the world solve certain design issues. It makes me think differently about how and why we design things in certain ways and look into innovative solutions that draw from things I’ve observed.
How important is a perfect chemistry between you and your clients to achieve the best results?
The chemistry between the client and designer is critically important, and what is most impactful is effective communication from both parties. Ultimately I think it’s the designer’s responsibility to define the right balance and tone with the client to best serve their needs, and even more so to create an authentic rapor. Some clients may need a different type of presentation style – maybe heavier on physical materials, renderings, or maybe a virtual walkthrough is better suited for some to fully understand the concept you’re pitching. It is a real art to be able to read someone’s communication style and cater to it. I think when you are able to learn that art and do it well, chemistry will organically blossom simply through human connection.
Choosing the best pieces to compose a project can be the secret to getting the best overall result. Although it seems easy, this is a delicate task and needs full attention on time to execute. Do you have some tips for those who do not know well how to start a challenge like this?
For me, starting with a strong concept is crucial. For every selection and design decision made there are some questions I like to ask myself.
o How does this relate to the core concept?
o How does this serve the end-user?
o What does this contribute to the overall design?
o Is this component necessary to achieve the design vision?
Do you think working with teams in interior design is better or worse than working alone? Why?
I love working with a team. I feel like the best work we do comes out of a collaborative design process, and I definitely agree that two (or more) minds are better than one. Collaborating on design work can be challenging, especially if you have a specific vision that might differ from those of your other team members, but challenging each other’s concepts and working together to refine and develop the design really strengthens it exponentially at the end of the day.
Do you have a favorite project or a favorite story about one of your projects?
One of my favorite projects to date has been the Cameo, a multi-family housing design project located in Southern California, formerly owned by our current client, Toll Brothers. This project was my first West Coast multifamily design project and our team had a blast exploring how to make the indoor and outdoor spaces connected and functional for the community of residents. It was a real treat to use bright, luminous colors throughout that we don’t always get to use in my native Boston area. This project has a distinctive personality that is different than any project I have worked on before and that uniqueness is attributed to the melding of ideas from our design team on this project.
What did you think about this exclusive interview with Dana Ruh, from Bergmeyer?