The Lustre Mission — To love your space
From the corporate side of interior design to creating space for her own design firm, Tristan Klobas takes creativity by the reigns every day to design for those who appreciate design. On any given day, that could mean that Tristan and her small but mighty team are working with residential, retail, manufacturer or showroom clients.
This west coast transplant moved to be close to the furniture capital of the world in 2012 when she was hired as Bassett Furniture’s creative director. Then, in 2011, she launched Lustre to work with people who are passionate about design.
And even though Tristan went to school for residential design, she said that after developing many connections in the furniture industry, she didn’t think the business would serve the end consumer. Of course, because of her talent and professionalism, she garnered attention from the “looky-loos” in the area and business grew.
WithIt is thrilled to feature Tristan and shine a light on her experience in the home and furniture design industry.
Keep reading to learn about:
- Her path into the home and furnishings industry
- What keeps her motivated
- What she’s working on this week
- Her most memorable project
- And more!
WithIt: How did you find yourself in interior design? Did you always know that’s what you wanted to pursue?
Out of high school, I was always interested in all things design. My mom was an interior designer. My dad was an interior designer. He worked for a big outfit and then with multiple chain retail stores that had onsite designers. He also worked for a long time for an individual who was a retailer but also had design services.
I was always on a project with my dad so it was sort of ruminating from a very young age, which made it an easy decision to go to design school.
WithIt: What keeps you motivated after being around furniture and design since you were a child?
Well, I like where my career has morphed currently, I have way more agency over my time than I’ve ever had in my whole working life. That is such a luxury not to be on someone else’s calendar a good bit of the time.
I’m working from home now, which took some getting used to not having an office to go to and having that camaraderie with the people with whom you work daily. That was like a two-year adjustment. Thankfully, I was already well into feeling comfortable working from home when the pandemic started.
WithIt: Is it more about enjoyment than it is a search for motivation?
Yes, I think I’m enjoying [this season] the most for that very reason. I have more agency and less responsibility.
I used to have my own product line I designed, developed and manufactured in Los Angeles. I used to come to High Point to peddle my own wares and had sales reps and showrooms across the country. I don’t miss all that work. I don’t miss all that responsibility.
Now it’s me, my assistant and the crew of people I work with when I do my projects, and I prefer it.
WithIt: Can you tell us about the various types of projects Lustre designs?
Lustre provides interior design for residents or end-users as well as showroom design for furniture manufacturers and photography styling. And often the merchandising is far more involved than product placement. It’s working with contractors and getting permits, tearing down walls, building walls and creating lighting plans. Even in commercial settings, it’s very much like a residence.
We just did a really big remodel for a company that I’ve been working with for about the last five years. They exhibit in Vegas and High Point, so I design their shows four times a year.
And in terms of designs, sometimes we get to do something really big and splashy, and other times it’s strictly merchandising. You still have to make it look good and different from market to market.
WithIt: What are you working on this week?
All of those things. We’re starting on a Vegas showroom project this week for a client, and we have a residential project in High Point for a husband and wife that want to turn a historical house into an Airbnb.
And that’s fun and very involved. They don’t have an architect on this project, so I’m doing a lot of things I wouldn’t normally do in my scope of services. That’s challenging, but in a good way because it forces me to step up my game.
WithIt: What do you do to stay inspired?
Inspiration comes everywhere, you know. Travel is a big source of inspiration for me. Obviously to be stimulated in new ways and in a new environment, culture or sensibility. I also look at a lot of resource books and read what other designers are doing, what other architects are doing and what ceramic artists are creating.
Of course, nature is your best free source, too. You’ve just got to pay attention. Beauty is really everywhere … Beauty is everywhere. I mean, that’s kind of my job to bring beauty into any environment, whether it’s a showroom or your home or a photograph.
Whatever space you’re in, whether you’re an apartment dweller or hold up in an Airbnb for work as a traveling nurse or something — however, you can create moments to bring beauty, I think makes you feel a little whole, makes you feel present, makes you feel inspired. Right?
WithIt: How has your work impacted your living space?
I’m definitely influenced by our industry, and I’m perpetually scoring all kinds of good deals on products. I can’t let things pass when I see a good deal!
You know, I either know the artisans who created it and so there’s a backstory behind it and I have an affinity or attachment to it. For me, it’s not just a product on the shelf at TJ max … it’s like their little stories living in my house, which I like.
WithIt: Do you find that people outside of your industry understand what you do?
I think people think it’s a lot of walking around in stilettos and pointing. As if you’re just sourcing $300 yards of fabric for stuff and your life is so glamorous. And that is so far from the day-to-day. Most of the time, I’m in yoga pants at home at job sites managing a bunch of grown men and making sure deadlines get done.
And when you’re working in a showroom, my assistant can attest to this, … if market starts at 8 a.m. and it’s two o’clock [that morning], and you’re not done, you’re there until it gets done.
And there are many variables that you don’t have control over. No matter how much you plan, there’s always going to be some sort of snafu. And the goal is not to work a crazy number of hours or log 17 miles a day on your Fitbit.
[What I’m saying is], it’s very physical work.
WithIt: Do you consider interior design an art form?
It is an art and a discipline. The art part is the tricky part to articulate. You don’t generally go up to a painter and say, “Why did you do that brushstroke there?” And it’s a different medium obviously, but [interior designers] have a “voice” like artists or poets do.
WithIt: What’s the most memorable project you’ve worked on?
There was a project I completed here in Greensboro, in Irving Park, and it was for a husband and wife who are a surgeon and a doctor. They had seen projects I completed, and they were the rare client who say, “Here’s the card. We know what you do, here’s the budget.” I did every floor from the basement to the second floor, and it had a big addition.
At one point, I even got to design hardware, the knobs on some of the doors because the contractors threw away the turn-of-the-century knobs.
WithIt: What advice would you give to women who aspire to be in a position such as yours?
It’s important to be in an environment where you are supported and where people understand your education, skill set and passion for design. Everyone wants to feel celebrated and not tolerated.
So, go into interviews with the mindset that you’re also interviewing your future employer and exploring your future environment, be it a big corporate space or a small design space.
This or That
In a final burst of quick-fire questions, we asked Tristan about her design and work/life preferences. Here’s what she said:
Mountains or Beach?
Form or Function?
Online or In-store?
Blinds or Curtains?
Ceiling fan or Chandelier?
We hope Tristan’s words help you make decisions about your professional goals as a woman in the home and furnishings industry.
And if you’re considering WithIt membership for your professional journey, find out more about our mission here, and make the decision to join today.