Q + A

the voice of Sara Blette of SAMARI Design

Functional beauty is a challenging concept to grasp, but when it’s achieved, the effects are unmistakable. Whether it’s the clean look of Scandinavian design or the adaptation of contemporary performance, there is always a way to find harmony between style and purpose — all while elevating and simplifying lifestyles. That’s where professionals such as Sara Blette of SAMARI Design come in. We sat down with Sara to talk inspiration, artistry, and how to achieve functional beauty.

How did you find your calling? What drew you to the interior design space?

I always knew I was born to create. I started my early career in graphic design 20 years ago, I never felt like I belonged in the world of 2D. I played with patterns and colors expanding beyond the confines of typography. I leaned into Environmental Graphic Design thinking that signage, wayfinding and 3D elements would be the solution to the discontent of my 9-5. I knew there was something more, more that I could be doing with my creative foundation.

At the time I was working at Communication Arts, a multi-disciplinary firm in Boulder. Their founders were rooted in the Eames Studio and they had created a collective of designers that crossed typical lanes and disciplines that I was now part of. I always viewed all design disciplines as beautiful problems to be solved, often with different parameters but always with the same underlying process: concept, budget, style, form, function and flow. The who, what and why anchored where the end result needed to go. So, I took a leap and asked my boss at the time if I could try and work in the interior design department. Fortunately, she said yes.

How do you merge your clients’ wishes and your sense of style into the scope of a home’s architecture?

What challenges do you most often face as an interior designer and what have you learned from them? 

The challenge that I see the most when working with a couple or team is a lack of a shared vision. I learned early on that “you can’t design what you don’t understand,” and when a shared vision is not in place, you will spend time and stress when it could be avoided. The easiest solution to this is to clearly identify the end result as best possible before ever starting to design a space. Without a clear vision, what seems like a minor design update could have a domino effect over your long-term goal. I like to start the process with basic questions like:

  • What do I want and why?
  • How long am I going to be in my home?
  • What is my budget?
  • What are my top 5 priorities for function?
  • What are my top priorities for style?

These questions will help me hone into the essence of what clients are trying to achieve. It may seem like more work, but ultimately, it saves clients time and money in the long run.

How does artistry integrate into what you do on a daily basis, both in and out of the workplace?

SAMARI stands for Spiritually Aligned, Mindfully Approached, Responsible Intent. For me, it’s a way that I try to show up every day. It’s a practice in noticing and asking yourself the question, “Is what I’m doing in alignment with my truest self?”

In my work, it’s a way of listening to a client, hearing their vision and discovering ways of bringing it to a reality they never thought was possible. At home, it’s a way of slowing down to discover the beauty in the simplest experiences. During COVID, I really started to take a more mindful approach to meal presentation. You should see my avocado toast with freshly trimmed microgreens, pumpkin seeds and goat cheese — there’s no reason breakfast can’t be beautiful, even on a Tuesday. There is artistry in all of our experiences; we just need to be willing to see it.

Describe the importance of a beautifully designed space.

Your environment either supports you and lifts you up or it brings you down. It surrounds you with the energy of all the elements that it imbodies. A beautifully designed space reflects the energy back to you, nurtures you and makes you feel comfortable and at ease. The secret is defining and understanding your own personal definition of “beautiful”. What makes your heart sing can make someone else cringe and that’s okay. The important part is figuring out what elements resonate with you and letting the rest go. The more your space is aligned with your needs, the easier it will be for you to go out and do your work, support yourself and nurture the ones that you love. 

As a business owner, how do you maintain a work/life balance?

I believe in harmony over balance. In the past, I’ve tried to focus on balance, but I’ve found that it puts undue stress on being one way or another. The idea often left me feeling not good enough as a designer, mother or partner in this tightrope act of yin or yang. Through harmony, everything finds a rhythm and strikes the right chord. Sometimes work takes a stronger presence, other times play — and, at all times, honoring the elements that make up life well lived. The duality of work and play are constantly in flow and tied to our energy levels, responsibilities and relationships. Trusting this rhythm allows me to relax into it, accepting that the harmony may change but the intention remains the same. 

To what or to whom do you attribute your success?

I attribute my success to all the teachers, mentors, colleagues and clients I’ve had up to this point, each of them collectively adding to the designer I am today. With each new experience we have the opportunity to grow, gain lessons and inspire. I couldn’t be more grateful to do the work that I do. From architects to contractors, each person becomes an integral part of bringing a design to reality. It never is really one person but the collective experience of many that brings success to life.

Where do you find inspiration in your daily life? Do you have any recommended books, podcasts or publications?

My favorite thing to do locally is check out the restaurant scene. The Front Range is never short of inspiration when it comes to food and a well-designed space. Modern in Denver magazine is always on my table ready to serve up the latest around town. I just discovered Origin Magazine — it’s like a mini vacation. From travel to recipes, it lends itself to a break from every day. For some original art, check out Novica, a marketplace that takes artisans from all over the world and helps to bring their products to consumers. I’ve bought several paintings for my past few projects and couldn’t be happier.

Don’t forget to go outside, feel the sun on your face and soak up nature. It’s a great time to reflect, think about where you’ve been and where you want to go. If you want some quick inspiration that’s already within you, think back to the first time you were ever in awe of a space, its beauty, its smell, the lighting and the way it made you feel when you entered the room. It could be anything from your grandmother’s kitchen, to the hotel you experienced on your first trip abroad, to your favorite taco restaurant down the street. Let your own life inspire you daily.