Interview with Marianne Lesko

When did you first get interested in designing spaces?

I think my earliest pretend games were designing my bedroom at my childhood home. I was a fashion design major in college and loved it, but my friends would walk into my dorm room at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and tell me that I should be in interior design and not fashion!

How do you approach a new interior project?

The first thing I do is listen to my new client. Once I understand their personal taste, I try to open up their vision for the space by suggesting alternatives. I would say that I am always trying to push my clients a little further than they may have originally thought, but always respecting their goals for the space. After all, they have to live there after I leave!

How would you describe your ideal client?

My ideal client is someone who has their own personal taste, style and vision, but may need some guidance and someone to actually help them execute the project.  I find that most of my clients are not aware of the many options they have and that forces them into limited choices.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Travel is really important for me. There is nothing that can replace seeing and learning about other cultures; what colors they use, how they live, what types of design they appreciate. I have travelled extensively through most of my life and career and I feel that has really formed my design sensibility.

Do you have a favorite artist? Designer? Architect?

Oh, so many! If I had to name a few, I would have to include Isabelle Marant, Azzedine Alaia, Jean Paul Gaultier, Wes Andersen (his sets and colors are very inspiring).

You balance two very inspiring living situations – summers in Portland, Maine and winters in Paris, France. What are your favorite things about these two places?

Portland is definitely the ocean! I am my happiest when I am on the coast. Paris is not on the coast, but it is Paris! I have always been impressed by the Parisian woman’s confidence in her personal style.

You are throwing a cocktail party and can invite 6 guests – living or not – whom would make that list and where would you throw that party?

I would always throw the party in my home! I would invite Charles Dickens for my husband so he would have somebody to talk to. Harrison Ford would be my first choice along with Coco Chanel, Colette, Perry Ellis and Ray and Charles Eames.