December 2019 Member Spotlight: Midori Karasawa

Midori Karasawa of Style Guide Interior Design - Portland, OR

When did you realize that you wanted to become an interior designer?
I worked in product marketing for more than 20 years before deciding to make a career change. In my previous role, I led the product creation process for Nike apparel and footwear and enjoyed delving into consumer insight, product conceptualization, design and development before going to market. Through my job, I was also able to travel the world, which exposed me to so many different expressions of design not only in architecture and interiors, but lifestyle and culture as well. When I had the opportunity to rethink my path for the next 20 years, I knew interior design was calling, as I have always had a passion for creating beautiful and functional environments. From past experiences, I know that if I align my interests with what I do for a living, it is a recipe for success.

Who was the first interior designer to make an impression on you?
Kelly Wearstler has been someone I have followed closely from the beginning of my career. Though my aesthetic is not as eclectic as hers, I admire her design sensibilities and her ability to bring objects with different texture, pattern, shape and form together harmoniously. I especially love her work in the hospitality realm, such as Proper Hotels and Residences, for example.

What are some of the things that influence you, aside from furniture and décor? 

Because of my sportswear background, I closely follow fashion trends for colors, materials and silhouettes. There, I often discover novel combinations of patterns, hues and form, as well as reinterpretations of classic silhouettes. All of these concepts are applicable to interior designs and I consistently look to the medium when I’m seeking inspiration.

What are your go-to basics?
1) White Walls
I would say the refined simplicity of white walls acts as a perfect backdrop for bringing colors to a room. When working with smaller and/or darker spaces in particular, the white walls also make a room feel larger and open.

2) Neutral Colored Sofa
I tend to choose neutral colors for large furnishings like sofas because they are an investment and I would like these pieces to work elsewhere if my clients end up moving. Plus I can tell more of a textural story using neutral colors.

Are you seeing any particular style requests trending among your clients?
They all seem to lean toward modern aesthetics, without venturing into ultramodern. A lot of the time, I am asked to blend timeless sophistication with a state-of-the-art feel. I avoid designing environments that won’t stand the test of time, so for that reason, I don’t necessarily follow industry trends, unless those trends improve the functionality aspect of the design. I believe there are always elements in design that are classic, yet can be elevated to the present through furnishings and textiles.

What's been your career highlight to date?
As I am about to wrap up my second year in business, I feel very fortunate for a number of incredible opportunities. One of my biggest accomplishments to date is winning the first runner-up award in the “Living Spaces $30,000 & Above” category at Interior Design Society’s Designer of the Year gala for my Portland Heights project. I was also invited to be on the panel at Portland Design Week where I shared my experiences among other talented designers. Three of my projects were highlighted by Portrait of Portland/Seattle, Portland Monthly and Old House Journal magazines this year. Overall, my 2019 has been a whirlwind and I look forward to meeting new clients and working on projects that will push me to better my craft in 2020.

What's the most treasured item in your own home?
I adore my Michel Ducaroy’s Togo Sofa and matching chair. I went to the Ligne Roset showroom in Seattle and the beautifully woven wool spoke to me in such an understated, yet sophisticated way. Every time I walk by them or look at them from a distance, my heart skips a beat. I’m awed by their uniqueness and how every small detail was considered, resulting in a visual elegance and multisensory comfort. They are made of foam, so I can easily move them to rearrange seating as needed. This furniture is truly a testament to how good beautiful design enhances your lifestyle.


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