Inside the Mind Of

Inside the Mind of… Elizabeth Valkovics

3 Jul , 2018  

Not all those who wander are lost. Some of them just like to explore. And teach. And paint. And design. And do all sorts of amazing things.

That’s what comes to mind when I listen to Elizabeth Valkovic narrate her story. One that starts before her interior design career and dates back to her teaching days in America. In fact, if you dig deeper, you’d see the creative spark lit way before that; somewhere during her childhood years travelling across America. Back then, every new home was an exciting opportunity to design a new bedroom. 

Design should be fun and it ought to be enjoyed, both for designers and the clients we’re designing for. People tend to forget this” – Elizabeth Valkovics, Head of Design – EDGE

Her story speaks of a journey that saw a creative spark nurtured into a burning passion and a talent for design that took her globetrotting across the world, and into a full-fledged career as a professional interior designer. Having started her career by teaching art; she’s been a full-time painter, travelled across the Atlantic to London, down to Cape Town, over to Baku and found her way to Dubai! No matter the city, country or continent, Elizabeth has leveraged her art education to find her way into a creative domain. From running a retail design studio and working as an operations manager to designing projects for Gatwick Airport, she’s had her fair share of experience.

Post a stint working as a project manager for the European Games in Baku; back in 2015, an opportunity presented itself in the form of a move to the Middle East. Fast forward to 2018, she is now EDGE’s Head of Design, bringing along her enormous experience to the drawing board. We chat with the talented, globetrotting creative on her journey around the world and what keeps her excited.

How did you make the move from teaching art to interior design?

Art and design have similar principles and foundations if you look closely. My first degree was in Art Education where I was double majoring in Art and Education. But because Education was involved, I had to familiarize myself with graphic design and related subjects. The multidisciplinary and communications learning lent itself really well to my future endeavours. It was not until London that I learnt and took up interior design at a professional level, but I was already familiar with its common elements with art. 

Elizabeth Valkovics
4-star Hotel Apartment Bedroom, Dubai

What’s your favorite design sector and why?

Seriously – I’m a retail geek. The science of shopping fascinates me. Even with all the hype about it being a “dying sector”, I will always have a love for retail. Experts say retail is dying, but I disagree. It’s simply changing. In fact, our studio is involved in developing an online experience for retailers so we’re not losing out on that business. This is one of the many reasons I chose to create a multidisciplinary studio with graphic and UX capabilities. What we create online complements whatever we create in the traditional brick and mortar space (if one exists). Retail spaces no longer have to actually sell a product at a traditional cash point with traditional sales staff. Brands are using their physical spaces to create marketing experiences that complement their offer. Products are on display so that there’s still a place to physically touch and feel items, but most shoppers have entered these spaces having done their homework and their minds made up. A store is now a place for validation and total brand immersion. And that’s what excites me.

How would you describe your design style, where do you get your inspiration from?

I obsess with anything creative and find inspiration everywhere I go. I have dabbled in graphic design, fashion design, modelling and photography. There’s something to learn from every field. My extended family also loves to travel and cook; and whenever we get together, it’s a feast for the senses. Travel really does it for me. That whole experience of travelling to a new place, soaking in the culture and heritage; it opens up my mind to so many new possibilities. 

For instance, I loved Istanbul; it was an unforgettable experience for me with all its colours, patterns, smells, textures and people! And then there’s Cape Town, it’s extreme in an awesome way. That sense of delight at something new sparks inspiration in me. If I had to summarize, I think my design style is a blend of timeless and clean-lined but I always aim to provide elements that surprise and delight. Design should be fun and it ought to be enjoyed, both for the designer and the people they are designed for.

Where do you see the interior design industry moving in the next 5 years?

I think in the next 5 to 10 years, we’ll be seeing design firms more streamlined in terms of technology, both in the studio and on site.  

Elizabeth Valkovics
Hotel Outdoor Lounge, Dubai

Additionally, on a personal level, how do you keep with the trends and technologies and find time to continuously learn and update yourself?

I keep up by reading, travelling and just simply experiencing each space I enter with those typical “designer” eyes. You know what I mean here – you can’t go anywhere with us! We are looking around at every restaurant, hotel, gym, office, airport, WC we go to. Sorry, not sorry. 

If you could design anything without constraints, what would it be? What are your design dreams?

Ideally, a project that ties all my passion, skill and experiences into one package. For me, that would be a brand new boutique hotel or a restaurant. And I can think of no one else to partner with than my sister – a phenomenal chef and fellow globetrotter. I would do EVERYTHING – from the fabrics, plates, branding, menus, operating supplies and equipment (OS&E), rooms, outdoor elements and even the staff uniforms. It would be a crazy fun project!

Elizabeth Valkovics
Presidential Suite, Beachfront Luxury Hotel, Dubai

If not Interior Design, what would you be doing?

Yoga Instructor ?

What are you working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

We are working on a few hospitality and residential projects, at the moment. Also, 1/JBR is on site, which is fabulous; and there are a few confidential projects that we are really excited about. Watch this space! 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And on the other hand, what would be the most important advice you would give new designers?

Iris Dunbar, Director of the Interior Design School in London, where I finished my degree in interior design, has been my mentor and a huge influence on my career. I’ve learned so much from her during my time in London. 

I learned early on in my career not to get too tied to one idea. There are always many solutions to each design problem. I would also say to stay true to the design process and begin each space looking at the basics: flow, adjacencies and the big picture before looking at the small details. Details will come in due time. Lastly, always listen to the client and find solutions that make them say, “Wow” as well as inspire you as a designer. 

Elizabeth Valkovics
Presidential Suite, Luxury Hotel, Dubai

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