Discussing holistic interiors with Gala Magriñá Design

We speak to Gala Magriñá, the founder and principal of Gala Magriñá Design, about her studio and her focus on holistic interior design

Launched in 2017, Gala Magriñá Design is a New York based commercial interior design studio founded by multi-disciplinary designer, Gala Magriñá. Raised in New York City and Barcelona, Magriñá is a forced to be reckoned with, and has plans to change the world, 'one space and conversation at a time’. Mindfulness sits at the forefront of her design practice, no matter the space she is creating; to find out more, we spoke to Magriñá and discovered what it means to create holistic interiors.

Tell us more about yourself?

I was born to Spanish parents in Kansas and raised from an early age on the Upper East Side. I attended the United Nations International High School, and always had an interest in design. As soon as I turned 18, I jumped into working in design and my first role was with Diesel, helping to launch their US flagship store.

After I graduated high school, I headed west to attend UCLA, where I became immersed in L.A.'s film culture, working on film sets, helming a few on my own, and making friends throughout the entertainment and fashion industries. During this time, I started working as a window stylist at Diesel, at their Santa Monica location.

Image: Sean T Smith

A few years later I moved back to NYC and finished my schooling at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I majored in Film and Television. I remained with Diesel and eventually became a full time employee, working out of their New York City corporate offices. In my 12 years there, I worked on all things creative – window, showroom, office, retail, and event design. In 2008, I founded my own design and production agency, M Crown Productions, Inc. that focused on events, pop-ups and retail windows and displays.

Throughout the years, I have developed a real passion for wellness and holistic interior design and eventually transitioned from events and pop-ups to being principal of my own commercial and residential interior design firm, Gala Magriñá Design. Events and Pop-Ups were a lot of fun to design and produce but after 10 years in business, I eventually realised I wanted to create permanent, happy, healthy spaces for my clients to enjoy.

In terms of my process, I am guided by our clients’ desires and needs, the story we want to tell, my intuition, and the inspirations I have collected from my travels and everyday life. I am certified in holistic interior design and wellness and I am dedicated to sharing the knowledge I have on these topics as much as possible, in the hopes that we can create happier, healthier and more intentional spaces that elevate people’s lives.

Image: Gala Magriñá Design

Were you always interested in pursuing design?

Yes! While growing up in Manhattan, I dabbled in everything from '90s turntablism to DIY filmmaking to high fashion. I’ve always loved the act of creating and bringing something into existence. Film, fashion, events, and now interior design all give me the ability to do this in different ways. Interior design not only lets me create, but it’s also a way to give back by creating permanent happy, healthy and intentional spaces for people.

What inspires your designs?

Whether it’s a brand we’re bringing to life in a physical space or a person’s home, it all starts with our client. We learn about their history, story and life, as well as get an understanding for functionality and what needs to happen in the space for it to be supportive and flow.

From there, it comes down to intuition and design research. As far as intuition goes, I’m able to listen to a client tell me about their brand, or in the case of a residential design, their lives; instantly, I begin getting images of what the space should look like or what needs to happen to bring the space to life in the best way possible for them. My friends call me “The Space Whisperer.”

Equally important is the design research we do, which comes from being constantly curious about the world and design. Travelling is a huge source of inspiration, as is Pinterest, Instagram, and interior design magazines that show us the latest in interiors, architecture, design, furniture, art, and décor.

Image: Sean T Smith

How would you describe 'Holistic Interior Design'?

To define holistic interior design, I think we need to first define traditional interior design, which I define as the marrying of beauty and function in order to create striking and versatile spaces. Holistic interior design does this, but also goes deeper, moving beyond the physical world of furniture and decor. As a holistic interior designer, I look at things in terms of the energy of the space, client goals and issues, sustainability and the use of non-toxic materials, maximizing natural air and light, reducing electronic pollution and lastly, reconnecting with nature.

Why do you think designing holistically is so important?

Because our spaces matter. Our homes, communities, and surrounding environment directly affect our daily motivations, behaviours and lifestyle and these factors determine 80-90% of our health outcomes. As I’ve evolved throughout my life, it has become clear to me that so much more exists beyond the physical world. Holistic interior design allows us to address these other things and create spaces that not only look beautiful, but that are healthy and make us feel better too.

Image: Sean T Smith

What are the principles involved in creating a holistic space?

  • Feng Shui: Focusing on the location of people in a space in relation to the objects within the space and how they affect one another, as well as layout and flow of a space.
  • Energy: In holistic interior design, we believe that energy makes a huge difference in the way people feel in a space.
  • Good Air: Make sure airflow, temperature, and humidity are balanced as well as access to natural air.
  • Good Light: Light affects our mood, so significantly and plays a huge role in telling our bodies whether to be more active or less active.
  • Use Non-Toxic Materials: Use non-toxic, natural, sustainable materials and cleaners as much as possible.
  • Bringing the Outside In (Biophilia): ?Bringing nature into your space every chance you get has been proven to have a myriad of positive effects on people.
  • Colour: Every colour affects people in different ways. Bright colours like yellow, red, and orange are more stimulating, while softer, warmer colours like lavender, rose, and pale yellow are better for relaxed environments.
  • Scent: We can use scents to either calm and soothe or invigorate and uplift.
  • Intention: Be intentional about the layout and objects being brought into a space, to better support the goals and desires of the owners or clients, as well as show gratitude for the land we are building upon or inhabiting.

Image: Gala Magriñá Design

Tell us about one of your projects, that you think best displays a holistic design?

Recently, we were approached by a high profile family-run financial company to create an office space that felt more like a hotel lounge and less like an office. They wanted to have a place for a few key employees to have private offices, as well as create a meeting space for 15 executives to hold their monthly meetings. This project allowed us to apply some of the holistic interior design principles and resulted in an inspiring, uplifting, comfortable space that allowed for traditional work to flourish in an untraditional office setting. That was really nice to see.

What is your favourite part of the design process?

I have two - the first is the initial dive into design, after we’ve been briefed by the client and begin gathering research. This is when I feel the most creative and in flow. The second part is, of course, when it all comes together on the last day of the installation and my team and I are restyling, playing, and experimenting with objects and accessories. No matter what the timeline looks like, I always try to walk away from the space and then come back and walk through one final time to take it all in and appreciate what we have created.

Image: Sean T Smith

Most challenging part?

Designing with tight deadlines. It adds a stress and contraction to the mix that can sometimes block unexpected ideas that ultimately end up creating a better space.

How can others implement holistic design in their spaces?

By following the principles of holistic interior design outlined above! By no means does someone need to follow each one, but if anything in particular speaks to you, you can go ahead and incorporate it into your spaces and into your life.

Please also feel free to peruse the blog that my firm puts together, Beyond Spaces, or follow us on Instagram at @galamagrinadesign. We include many resources here for implementing holistic interior design and wellness in your life, including my nine easy to implement holistic interior design tips.

Finally, reach out to me! I would love to help anyone, anywhere, implement holistic interior design in their spaces. With my background, I can help to analyse the current state of a space and identify what steps need to be taken to improve health and wellness within that space.

Any other tips?

It took me 40 years of being a constant on the go, stressed New Yorker to realise that self-care and slowing down are so important for great design work. From a grounded, balanced place, the most creative and wonderful things come into existence.

What's next for you, and Gala Magriñá Design?

Spreading the message of holistic interior design far and wide. From there, my hope is that this becomes a standard way of designing and building our spaces and, as a result, we all end up living healthier and happier lives.


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