Noz Design is a full-service interior design firm based in San Francisco, serving clients on residential and select commercial projects throughout the Bay Area, Lake Tahoe, New York City, and beyond. With a focus on spaces that feel narrative, collected over time, Noz Design creates effortlessly eclectic, thoughtful homes that reflect a homeowner’s lifestyle and life stories.
With her recognition within the design community including Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Luxe, House Beautiful, The Wall Street Journal, and ELLE Décor, Robern is thrilled to have Noz as one of our prized brand ambassadors over the recent years.
“I’ve installed several Vitality mirrors and cabinets into clients’ bathrooms and have gotten to observe how well they light your face for skincare and makeup application.” Noz Nozawa
Q: We see that one of your recent projects was updating your own personal bathroom. Can you tell us a bit about your use of pattern and curvilinear lines within this space? Also, you used a Vitality lighted medicine cabinet within this space, and we’d love to learn more about that product choice for you.
A: Yes! My personal bathroom has been a 10-year dream come true to finally make that project happen. I started the design knowing the layout and storage would be of major importance (the previous bathroom was too big and poorly utilized my limited city-condo square footage). From there, I couldn’t decide what colors I wanted – I was excited about greens, black, dusty Victorian-bathroom-inspired pinks - so I ended up choosing, well, ALL of them! I created a pattern with Fireclay Tile that stuck to rectangles, in order to minimize the pattern noise since I have so many different color tiles in one space. But to soften all the right angles in the bathroom, I added curves via the circular sinks, pill-shape panels in the custom vanity, and plumbing + light fixtures.
The Vitality lighted medicine cabinets (both sinks get a cabinet!) were a product I’ve known I wanted to use in my dream bathroom for years: I’ve installed several Vitality mirrors and cabinets into clients’ bathrooms and have gotten to observe how well they light your face for skincare and makeup application. Between the great lighting and at-my-face product storage (my previous bathroom did not have medicine cabinets!), I’m living my best life.
Q: Can you tell us more about your design process as it relates to working with your clients? Is there a discovery process that you go through and how easy is it for you to get homeowners to open up to new approaches? Any particular challenges that you are proud of overcoming?
A: With all our clients, the designs we create are a collaboration between their vision, their dreams for Home, their story, and our vision of how to bring that to life with the colors, textures, patterns, products, and custom finishes in our design “palette.” I like to think we are very good listeners and observers. Generally, by working together from a shared language of images and visuals, we can uncover a lot with our clients. I also find that kicking off a design project with an explicitness about shared intentions and teamwork, helps us come together as client and designer to develop full trust, and to communicate with openness and thoughtfulness.
I think I’m just proud of having worked over the years to refine our kick-off process, and how I start each of our projects, to get better and better at finding our right clients and earning their trust and confidence throughout the process. Like so many designers, I’ve had my share of clients who turned out to not be the right fit, and I’ve learned to honestly reflect on and take full stock of what went sideways, to be better for the next client.
Q: Your designs seem incredibly “artful”. How has your formal education in Art History influenced your design decision-making if at all?
A: That is such a kind observation, thank you! If anything, my art history education (I minored in Art History in college) has taught me that there is a rich context and story behind everything. I learned that, whether you are drawn to something aesthetically/visually or not is important, but it’s not everything: modern art, for example, is often made more powerful by understanding the artist’s manifesto and message, the historical and artistic context it was created in, and the process! Nowadays as a designer, I really appreciate the opportunity to go deep with our vendor partners to learn about the companies we work with, how things are designed, who designed them, does a vendor’s values and commitment to the environment align with ours, and more. It just makes every part of our design process more enriched and gives us an opportunity to share that familiarity and knowledge with our clients, who also then get to feel more knowledgeable and engaged in their home improvements.
Q: When it comes to mixing colors, patterns, and textures in design, where do you pull from for inspiration? Can you tell us a bit more about how you use more “sculptural forms” in a space and the value that they bring to the end result?
A: Our inspiration comes from all over, honestly: from historical spaces, from monuments and hotels and residences all over the world, from the plumage of birds, from walking around our colorful city of San Francisco. And honestly, I think a lot of our most unexpected combinations truly have come by way of simple experimentation - taking physical swatches of fabrics and paint chips and laying them together to see how they feel. It's one of my favorite processes in design, is just a purely curiosity-driven casual tabletop experiment.
As for sculptural forms, I love unusual shapes and silhouettes. Most of us, I would argue, live in homes that are primarily rectangular. And most of our cabinetry and doors and windows are also primarily rectangular! So bringing in curvature, or non-right angles, or forms that are unusual, irregular, asymmetrical, or even blobby, adds so much life and energy to our spaces. I see very few right angles in the natural world, right?!
Q: When designing a bathroom space, what are the primary elements that you focus on and why?
A: First and foremost, the bathroom must be exceedingly functional and enjoyable to use. It is principally a space for usefulness. That means floor plan, storage capacity, lighting, and ease of cleaning are the most important things we tailor to our clients. Once all of these elements are figured out, we can make anything beautiful, or bold, or serene, or one-of-a-kind, depending on what our client wants to see and feel when they step into the bathroom.
Q: We are noticing more and more importance being placed on “self-care”. What do you do for yourself to help you stay focused, relaxed, or more balanced?
A: Not enough! Ha! Honestly, especially over the past 2 years of pandemic life, I’ve really learned that my most valuable self-care is the boring everyday stuff: drinking enough water, eating unprocessed foods cooked at home, getting adequate sleep, taking breaks, weekly talk therapy. I’ve found that the water and food stuff really have improved the consistency of my mental and emotional well-being. Things that I *should* do more of include taking vacations or at least long weekends with a bit more frequency, and more physical movement/exercise, but both those things require TIME, which is the ultimate luxury.