Behind the Design: Kaitlyn Payne of Basicspace

Designer Spotlight: Kaitlyn Payne of Basicspace – Brooklyn, NY

How did you get where you are today?
I was born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and spent the first 18 years of my life in the same home. My parents created a space for me and my brother that was comfortable and gave me a sense of stability. When working with clients today, I draw from that deep sense of place – of thereness – that I felt growing up in our cozy Cape Cod home.
In college, I explored the idea of a less permanent sense of place and moved to San Francisco to pursue an internship. Without any connections, I eventually convinced an architect to hire me and ended up gaining incredible hands-on experience and exposure to the intersection of design and architecture. After heading back to Boston for a couple years, I made the move to Brooklyn in 2014 and have been here since.
Looking back on my education and career path, I believe that growing up in a small close-knit community gave me an intimate sense of space, while exploring new landscapes gave me a wide-lens vision.
Basicspace is known for specializing in residential and cultural spaces, pushing for clean, authentic and practical design – how do you achieve this?
Designing is a complex, long and often difficult process, but one that I am truly passionate about. Clean, authentic and practical are loose, broad terms that I believe universally describe a successful solution for any design problem. This success is driven by collaborative relationships between the designer, client, architect and contractor. Managing these relationships takes time, patience and an understanding of each other. If everyone considers and is educated about the design process from each stakeholder’s perspective, this will lead to a smoother execution.
How does having a Brooklyn-based design studio influence your designs?
So much! Even though it is a part of New York City, Brooklyn is completely different from Manhattan. I love the quick access into Manhattan and the plethora of showrooms that inspire my material pallets, product selections and architectural details; even so, I appreciate coming back to a quieter, slower paced studio environment. That’s not to say Brooklyn isn’t busy, but it has a more intimate sense of community, whereas the scale of Manhattan can sometimes feel overwhelming. Also, there is more space scattered throughout Brooklyn for furniture builders, millworkers, and artists. Visiting and collaborating with these people truly inspires me. The lively creativity and relaxed setting of Brooklyn definitely fuels my design work.
How do you stay current and source interesting, new-to-market products and materials to incorporate in your designs?
Another huge benefit to being based in NYC is that there are so many design conferences, events and fairs throughout the year that showcase the newest furniture, materials, and products. But I have to admit, my favorite way to stay current is to grab a cup of coffee and a bagel and explore the many showrooms that the city has to offer. I also love browsing Instagram to search and learn about new companies.
Who are some of your favorite local Brooklyn vendors that you work with?
A few Brooklyn showrooms that I frequent often for their unique products are Mark Jupiter, the Brooklyn Flea, Homestories, and Rebecca Atwood.
What are some projects you are particularly proud of?
I find the most challenging and engaging projects are the ones where I am designing both interior and exterior spaces. I love to blur the lines of interior and architectural design. The Jerusalem Road House and Beach Street Carriage House both had this integrated approach. I think we came up with really elegant solutions to each client’s unique requirements.
How does designing make you feel?
I’m humbled to be able to design for others. Every client has a unique way of living, and I love getting the chance to design spaces that are tailored to their routines and experiences. My passion is to create beautiful space, but beyond that, I love to learn from all the people I work with.
You just launched your own business, Basicspace, congratulations! What excites you about running your own business?
Thanks – it all excites me! Since the company is in its beginning stages, I’m most excited about the many opportunities and the fact that the decisions I make will impact my professional career and my company’s future. I have the privilege of helping people and impacting their well-being and daily life. Being an entrepreneur drives me to produce my best work and explore my creativity.
Can you offer tips of advice to the interior designers starting their own design studio?
Ha! I feel like I’m the one that still needs advice! I’ll repeat what my mentors have advised me: Be brave and bold. You will feel doubt and skepticism, but proceed fearlessly and be your own biggest cheerleader.
And my least favorite piece of advice, but one that is important nonetheless (I can still hear my professor saying this over and over at school): “Network! Network! Network!”. People roll their eyes at this advice, but networking is essential, and has helped me find many of my clients.
What’s your business mantra?
Work your ass off and be authentic.
How important is social media to the success of your business?
This is a really interesting question and something I’m working to better understand. I have invested time into my Instagram account (@basicspacedesigns) and just created an email newsletter (NO BS), but I’m still verifying whether these are the marketing channels I want to focus on. Face-to-face networking is still my most effective way of getting new work.
You regularly collaborate with contractors, craftspeople, and other reps of the trade – how do you maintain healthy relationships with these vendors?
YES! I love collaboration – have I said that yet? I make it my mission to meet with a new person in the industry each week for coffee or drinks just to chat and learn from them. I also make sure when I’m scheduling my week that I put time aside for showroom visits. Without each person I work with, my business couldn’t exist…it takes a village!
When you start a new project, how do you get to know your client and the space in order to achieve individualized design?
I like to meet with my clients where they are most themselves, as I find that I get honest answers when my clients are comfortable. This may sound a little underwhelming, but just talking and creating dialogue with my clients is the most effective way to get to know them. Most importantly, by listening! Then, asking questions about their personal lives, what challenges they run into, and how they live day-to-day provides the best insight into how I can help.
What’s your focus for 2017?
I have three main goals for 2017 – the first is to continue working with amazing clients, so I have been outlining a networking and marketing strategy for the first half of the year. Secondly, I am looking to publish more of my work and build Basicspace’s brand. And most importantly – I want to keep having fun!
Why did you join Ivy?
I joined Ivy because I needed a better way to organize my business that was smart, intuitive and easy to incorporate clients into the workflow.
How has Ivy helped streamline your workflow?
The biggest thing is organization! I used to use excel, linking to websites and my Pinterest, Indesign to PDF and Quickbooks and send out each of these documents to my clients. Ivy makes it possible to do everything on their platform! Also, they really listen to their users and add features continuously that we ask for.
What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?
Gosh, probably the just launched product clipper! It is so easy to add products to my Ivy account and then they are saved for future use. From there you can add to any proposal/ invoice. Brilliant and a huge time saver!
Photography courtesy of JT White

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