"I got a phone call from Alexa Hampton, and I was like, 'Oh my God!" That's how designer Alberto Villalobos recalls the moment he found out he'd been tapped as the New York School of Interior Design's latest Rising Star, an award presented, in a room full of the country's best designers, last night, alongside honors for Jeffrey Bilhuber and Christopher Spitzmiller.
For Villalobos, an 2006 NYSID graduate who ran Villalobos Desio alongside Mercedes Desio before founding A. Villalobos a year and a half ago, the honor is a welcome encouragement for his solo venture. "This industry is a family, and I feel like I’ve been so welcomed and they’ve been so supportive," the designer tells Natipernavigare. "The rising star award means a lot to me, because I really do feel like I’ve been able to rise up."
Villalobos's style, as he describes it, is "effortless, to be subtle elegance." And, most importantly, he says, "it’s always about quality. It doesn’t matter how simple, sophisticated, high end or low end you're going, it should always be about quality. You need to do the best that you can within your budget."
Of course, the budgets on Villalobos's latest projects have skewed higher end: He's currently at work on two New York City apartments and a home in Westchester County designed by Wallace Harrison, the architect behind New York's Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center and the United Nations headquarters.
"It’s been a labor of love, with a great team of architects and great clients," Villalobos says of the home. "It’s been about trying to bring the house back to its original glory but also bring it up to date."
That said, Villalobos's philosophy of design is one that holds true, whether it's applied to a Park Avenue Penthouse or a modest starter home: "My work is about managing expectations, making things work, trying to give my clients tools to be happier," the designer says. "I just want to build a space that will bring you happiness."
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