Lauren Geremia is widely known as the go-to designer for startup offices in the Bay Area. In recent years, she has put her mark on some of the biggest tech startup offices in the U.S.: Dropbox, Instagram, Hightail, and Lumosity, among others. Though this wasn’t always her plan. Geremia graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design’s painting program in 2004 and moved to San Francisco to work as an assistant for a film producer, who—as fate would have it—also happened to have an interior design business on the side. When her boss became too busy with the production company, she kept things moving on the design front and began to build relationships with local clientele. “My first design job was for a sushi restaurant. I met the owners through my post as a personal assistant,” she recalls. “During this time, the recession really worked in my favor because these clients—and others I began to meet mainly in the food and beverage business—wanted someone young and willing to do the job for way less money.”
Geremia also used her RISD network to generate furniture and art for her burgeoning interior design business. “I was part of a big community of design school alumni who were making things,” she says. “There were artists and artisans who were creating great glass-blown lighting I could incorporate into a bar, or friends I knew who could paint a really amazing mural or custom-make a beautiful wallpaper print for a new restaurant.” These bars and restaurants that Geremia worked on eventually became her calling cards. “These were new and very popular spots in town that everyone was going to, which made them great billboards for my work,” she says. “People would start recognizing and asking, or just find me on Yelp.”
Her first big tech client was Path, founded by Dave Morin, whose home she eventually decorated as well. Next came Dropbox and a few others, and then Instagram. “[Instagram Cofounder] Kevin Systrom and I were both being honored with the same Forbes 30 Under 30 award in San Francisco and we met at the event,” she recalls. “He then told me he was interested in talking about the design for his new office.” Geremia set out to create a space that, as she says, blended “creativity, innovation, and comfort.” She mixed industrial-style lighting with mid-century furniture; leather and velvet sofas with mismatched, patterned pillows; and an open shelving unit that housed antique Instamatic cameras. However, while she was working, Facebook bought Instagram and brought in its design team to finish the job with her. It was a blessing in disguise: She later designed homes for several Facebook employees she met and became close with during the process.
Recent residential jobs undertaken by Geremia Design have typically gone only as far as Berkeley or Palo Alto, but she and her team have also taken their skills to downtown Manhattan. “I’m working on a beautiful garden apartment in Greenwich Village right now,” she says. “It used to belong to Chloë Sevigny, and it is moody and elegant, with marble fireplaces and floors, heavy curtains, and rich wall treatments, and the entire building holds fantastic character. It has low levels of natural light, which has been interesting to embrace after working in California.” She also adds, “It’s really cozy and girly, which is definitely a different note for me.”
Geremia’s design studio is working on more homes in wine country and a boutique hotel near the Russian River, and the firm is hoping to land two new projects in Cincinnati. She’s incorporating new pieces into her design repertoire, like furniture and decor by designers like Christophe Delcourt and Steven Banken, as well as artwork by the likes of Tauba Auerbach and Noémie Goudal. “The residences we’re doing now are much more sophisticated, have less clutter, and the experiences are more relatable to me. I enjoy exploring the psychology of a client relationship and finding pieces of art, a couch, or a fabric that will strike an emotional chord with them.”
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