By Cristi McKee | Photos courtesy of Rachel Bowden
TALLAHASSEE, Fla — Local interior designer, Rachel Bowden, wasn’t always an interior designer. A graduate from Florida State University, mother of 2, and wife, Ms. Bowden began her professional career with degrees in english and creative writing and spent 5 years working as a marketing writer. However, something just did not click. “I also knew that deep down I was more of a visual artist than a writer. Interior Design had always been a passion of mine, and I knew the combination of an art and a business was what I was looking for,” she said. While working as a marketing writer, one day, she realized, “Wait, I want to BE the product, and use these skills to promote myself.”
So, just a week after she and her husband moved to Tallahassee, she began graduate school at Florida State University to pursue her Master’s of Science Degree in Interior Design, which she earned in 2001. While at FSU, she worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and studied abroad in London, Paris, Glasgow and Milan. From there, she was hired as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Interior Design and began work as a Junior Designer for Julian Mathis Interiors. Just a few years later, she founded Rachel Bowden Interior Design so that she could work a more flexible schedule around her family. For several years, she focused mainly on residential design and she was offered an opportunity to work on the renovation on a beach resort in the Caribbean. The Tally Wire had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Bowden about her creative endeavors for the Tallahassee community.
What has been your favorite part of being an interior designer? So many things! Visualizing what a space can become, finding and combining unique materials and pieces, working with creative craftspeople, traveling and exploring for inspiration, but mostly helping my clients make their homes the best they can be. There are few things that can change one’s perspective so profoundly than the built environment. It’s kinda magic!
Do you have a project in specific that you have particularly enjoyed doing? I truly can say I don’t have a favorite project. I become completely immersed in whatever project I have in front of me. So my favorite is always the one I’m working on at the moment. That said, I have been fortunate in the last few years to work with some extraordinary clients who not only appreciate a more eclectic and metropolitan look in their homes; but who have given me their complete trust to bring that vision into reality. That has been so rewarding because it’s much more about creative expression than it is about what is currently trendy in decor.
Could you please walk me through what it looks like when beginning a project? When we begin a new project, it’s all about getting to know the client. In person meetings, zoom meetings, inspiration sharing in the form of magazine tear sheets and/ or online pictures, and us just asking tons of questions. The more we know about our clients the better…down to the most personal details about how they live. Do they entertain? Which door do they enter when they come in? Who cooks in the family? Bath or shower? How do they spend their free time? Do they have pets? What are their dreams, plans? Loves, hates? We want to know it all! It’s really important that we earn our clients’ trust at the beginning. They need to know we hear them, and are going to take everything about them into consideration when we begin the design. No ask is too big or small. Because we work on both renovation and new construction projects, the beginning stages can be very different. But getting to know our clients is always number one.
Is there anyone you would like to thank? I want to thank my husband and children for being so self sufficient and supportive over the years when I need to focus on my work and/or travel. And my very best pal, design assistant, and creative collaborator, Sally, who always has a pair of scissors or a tape measure handy, and who makes it all just that much more fun!
How can potential clients/anyone interested contact you? Our recent interior design projects can be seen on Instagram @Rachel_Bowden_Design I can also be reached at RachelBowdenDesign@icloud.com or 850-284-3718.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Last year I acquired a studio space where I have been making original abstract paintings. Oftentimes I paint custom pieces for my clients, but I also want to develop a following of collectors outside of my design work. I generally paint large scale pieces, so restaurants and bars, hotels, offices, and other public spaces are a good fit for my work, as well as individual homes. It’s a natural progression for me to create the art I want to see in my own interiors; and to help elevate the design and energy of other built environments with my original abstract paintings. See recent and available works in Instagram @Rachel_Bowden_Art.