Winning awards is seemingly a walk in the park for Melinda Conley, Fine Designs & Interiors, London, OH. She has taken home accolades as a five-time award winner in a national industry design competition—only the second person in the United States to ever do so—and most recently won the Gallery Kirsch “Designer of the Year” contest, sponsored by Haworth and Kirsch for her Teacup finial design . . . a design that almost didn’t happen. (See D&WC, July 2003, page 18.)
“I learned of the contest,” Conley recalls, “and right away
began thinking of what I could design, but never had time to draw them.” Time
passed, and the contest deadline loomed. Finally, December 30, 2002, arrived.
Lying in bed at six in the morning, Conley realized she hadn’t put together
her entries, much less drawn them. Comfortable in bed, she decided to forget
about the contest, as she figured there was little chance of winning it anyway. “A
couple of minutes went by and the next thing I knew, I was out of bed, drawing.
I decided if the office supply store was open and it had mount board—and
if FedEx hadn’t picked up . . . I could get it together in time.” And
that is exactly what happened.
The Gallery Kirsch “Designer of the Year” contest was devised to
recognize designers whose work reflected the innovation and elegance that defines
the Kirsch brand.
All designs were judged on the following criteria:
Originality and innovation (40 percent)
Design that defines elegance (20 percent)
Production feasibility/ease of manufacturing (20 percent)
Applicable to a current home décor style (20 percent)
Conley’s inspirations came from several places. “I was doing a job
involving a very formal living room and I was thinking that it was hard to come
up with a rod that didn’t overpower a Waterford crystal chandelier. That
it would be really neat to have a crystal pole. I thought of all of the really
neat things being done in acrylic and that maybe this would be the way to go
with my entry. I designed the Teacup finial and rod based on crystal stemware
I received as a wedding present.”
This year’s entries were judged by a distinguished panel, including designer
Raymond Waites and Don Bowden, president of the American Society of Interior
Designers (ASID). Conley will receive her name on the product she designed, and
also won a $1,000 cash prize.
“When the FedEx letter arrived on my desk one morning, I thought to myself, ‘What
in the world could this be?’ As I read, I came to tears and ran all over
the office telling my employees. We were all just shocked at my good fortune!”
Fortune has always smiled on Conley, who has been in business since 1992. She
holds a B.S. in Interior Decorating and Consumer & Family Sciences. Additionally,
she is an Allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).
An active member of her community, Conley belongs to the Madison County and Upper
Arlington Chambers of Commerce. She is Secretary of the London (OH) Arts & Music
Celebration, and is a Business Partner of the Madison County Hospital. She also
does speaking engagements on decorating and interior design for various civic
As for her recipe for success, she follows a winning format: she listens carefully
to her client to gain understanding of their ideas and vision for their interior
and offers ideas to enliven their imagination, “Then we take time to pull
together ideas, suggestions and samples before meeting again to share how we
can create a special look and feel for the environment,” says Conley.
The process of creating innovative solutions and a distinctive look for design
problems, then taking that concept and making it reality is what contributes
to the success of Fine Designs & Interiors. “Interior design is meant
to enhance a person’s quality of life by creating an environment that’s
comfortable, practical and aesthetically pleasing,” says Conley.
As for Kirsch, since its invention of the first flat curtain rod in the early
1900s, the company has valued its strong relationship with the designer/decorator
community. Kirsch continues to lead the industry in providing innovative fashion-forward
solutions for its elite clientele who desire status conscious home décor.
With such exclusive designer signature collections as Raymond Waites and Clodagh,
Kirsch offers window décor options that set the standard for window fashions.
Offered through a nationwide fabricator network and select premier retailers,
Kirsch window fashions aims to define elegance and offer uncompromising style,
beauty and innovation to allow each individual a unique design experience.