From working in the hotel industry to helping expats design a home away from home: meet Simone Aïda Baur, the founder of Global Inspirations Design.
Moving homes twenty five times among seven countries on three continents. This is the track record held by Simone Aïda Baur, an award winning interior designer from Basel, now living in Zürich.
I was recently able to catch Simone in an apartment she designed in order to talk about her passion and how she managed to turn it into a career. As the founder of Global Inspirations Design, she is able to leverage her experience traveling around the globe as well as her in-depth knowledge of the hotel industry.
Simone, how did you come up with the business idea for Global Inspirations Design?
Throughout my career in the luxury hotel industry I got to see countless, beautiful hotels around the globe. Exploring aspects of design was a natural consequence. And this is when I realized the importance of the home. No matter where I was living at a given time, I always paid a great deal of attention to designing my home with lots of love and attention to detail.
This is how the thought of becoming an interior designer started to develop. I decided to sign up for an interior design diploma course at a London Design School. The turning point was when I had the opportunity to move back to the Caribbean, my favorite part of the world and where I had lived for several years in my 20's.
This time however, I followed my partner at the time as his trailing ‘spouse’. Living in the British Virgin Islands without a job gave me the opportunity not only to pursue my studies, but also to design an entire villa including bathrooms and kitchen, for which I even won my first design award a couple of years later. How to turn my passion into a business? I wanted to help other expats settle more quickly in their new chosen home. I do this by doing what I know best: creating a dream home away from home.
Tell us about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
As an interior designer I help people transform their house or apartment into a stylish home that suits their personality and lifestyle. It’s about maximizing space, choosing the right style, colors, materials, furniture and lighting. My goal is to capture their personality and translate it into the design of their home.
This could be the redesign of just one room or an entire house, including bathrooms and kitchens. I can help in planning and designing new builds as well as renovation projects. The earlier I get involved, the better. This way, my clients can avoid making costly mistakes, such as having the electrical outlets in the wrong places, choosing the wrong flooring or buying the wrong furniture.
What is your interior design style?
I would describe my style as “modern contemporary with a touch of nostalgia”, meaning my dominating style is contemporary but I like to add an element of surprise. This could be an inherited antique, a loved piece of vintage furniture, a piece of art or any memorabilia that my clients may have brought from another country.
How do you create a design style for your clients? What is the process?
After an initial phone call, where I gain a better understanding of the client’s needs, current situation and desired outcome, we usually get started with an interior design coaching session. Before the session, a client would fill in a questionnaire, much like a self-assessment, about their current situation, their needs, lifestyle and preferences. They then send the questionnaire together with floor plans and pictures back to me, so that I can study the material and prepare for the session.
During the 2 ½ hour session, we analyze and discuss the possibilities, I make suggestions, give them ideas about style, colors, furniture and so on. Sometimes I tweak a few things right then and there by moving around furniture and decoration items.
For smaller projects, or where just a few changes are necessary, I can work on a consultation basis to assist them through the process and with personal shopping for the home, helping them select the right furniture, lighting and soft furnishing.
For larger projects, I would usually prepare a customized package which includes the concept work, the sourcing, the procurement and the implementation. This process usually takes six months to a year, including ordering and delivery.
Who are your clients?
Typically, my clients are expats who have made Switzerland their home and who would like to create their dream home. They are often short on time and feel a bit overwhelmed by the process. I help them find design solutions to suit their personality and lifestyle, creating a sanctuary for them, so they can focus on the people and things they love.
What's the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
For me, it is the freedom in terms of choosing which business partners to collaborate with, the flexibility of trying something new and the ability to choose which clients I want to work with. It is very important for me that both parties feel comfortable and there is a mutual trust. I need to collect a lot of information about my clients’ lifestyle and want to capture their personality. Seeing my visions come to life and making a positive impact on people’s quality of life is very rewarding.
Simone, what have you learned since going out on your own?
You have to be flexible and able to adapt to different situations. I believe there must be a balance between planning your next steps and going with the flow. I have also learned that it is OK to ask for help - I cannot do everything on my own!
Where do you get your inspiration?
For me, inspiration is everywhere! I find lots of inspiration in nature, especially with regards to color combinations, textures and shapes. Art and fashion are another source of inspiration. I also visit furniture stores, fabric houses and of course design shows. My favorite one is Milan Design Week, where I learn about all the latest trends and innovations in the world of design and where I meet old and new suppliers from around the globe.
Why do you do what you do? What do you love about it and find meaningful about it?
I truly believe that our home, or any physical surrounding for that matter, has a huge impact on our health and well-being. This is why I love creating spaces where people can truly feel comfortable. I know it will improve their quality of life.
I love it when one of my visions comes to life. When I can see a sparkle in my client’s eyes as things are coming together. It really gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Tell us about your radio show and workshops...
In April 2018, I launched a monthly radio show together with the English Show on Radio X Basel called Your Dream Home Away From Home. I talk about the different aspects of interior design and share lots of tips and tricks.
For those who would like to go a bit deeper into the subject and learn about interior design, colors, color schemes, color psychology, styles, materials and more, I also run an interior design workshop called How to develop a design concept. It is a half day hands on workshop where the participants get to create their own mood board. I also blog about design, particularly hotels design, and my dream is to design a boutique hotel one day...
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Simone!