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Interior Designer Diane Luna

Interior Design Alumna Shares Insights From Her Decades-Long Career

Interior Design Alumna Diane Luna graduated from FIDM in 1989 and has loved her journey over the years, "from being a crazy brave young design assistant measuring at Eddie Van Halen's house (which was a wild ride), to my current self-employed momness who is totally domestic." She runs an interior design studio out of her house in the San Diego area and is currently working with an architect on a new residential heritage project, preserving the original California Hacienda style. We caught up with the talented and experienced designer to learn more.

Any advice for someone who wants to pursue a creative career? 
BE PERSISTENT. Do not give up until you get a job in your field, no matter how long it takes. Do the research, meet the people, take the time. I had classmates who settled after design school, staying in jobs not related to their creative field. For you, persistence will pay off. Your dreams are worth the hard pursuit!  

BE EXCELLENT. I always ask myself if what I’m designing is the absolute best it could possibly be. It takes work to push yourself that hard, but your clients will thank you. And you will stand out above the rest. Every single thing you do is an opportunity to be excellent, so why not?

Tell us a little about yourself and your design firm: I’ve pretty much done interior design my whole life, I love it so much! FIDM Alumna 1989, happily married, mother of two, musician and painter on the side. Avid reader, horseback rider. Basically anything fun and creative, sign me up! I run a home-office interior design studio serving primarily residential clients. Been in business for about 20 years in San Diego. My clients are exclusively referral based, no advertising necessary. The design speaks for itself! I keep my team small, and by outsourcing services like drafting, renderings, installations etc.; staying small works really well. It never gets old helping clients upgrade their homes, even after 20 plus years. Such a great industry!

Tell us about your experience in FIDM's Interior Design program: Having come from a small town, school in Los Angeles was a huge contrast. I loved every minute. I attended my first year at Woodland Hills and second year downtown, back when the FIDM campus was located in a few floors of a bank building. It never really felt like school, taking creative classes. It was fascinating learning about line weights, color design drawing, lighting, fabrics, business, etc., and the skills I learned were integral to launching my career.

Tell us about a recent favorite design project: My last project in Santaluz, California, was an absolute fave. Not only is Santaluz a joy itself, the client had great taste and a great house. She also was willing to have the rooms completed top to bottom, which is super rewarding and truly gives projects the best end result. In this instance every room turned out magazine-worthy. We recently had it photographed and featured a few photos on my website.

Where do you find inspiration? Honestly, other designers and projects. I never tire of looking at beautiful work. Love print magazines, interiors are gorgeous in print. I also follow a bunch of designers and magazines on Insta, from House Beautiful to Elle Decor, Bunny Williams to Kelly Wearstler. I will say, Kelly’s work is pretty darn amazing. Sources can be inspiring, too, and can keep you up to date. Waterworks plumbing, for instance, always posts amazing installation photos. Brass faucets, yes please!

Tell us about your path to FIDM: FIDM gave a career day presentation at my high school during my junior year. They showed pictures of floor plans on the big screen and I thought, “Hey, I already do those!” I’d been rearranging friends’ rooms forever, complete with little furniture plans I would draw for them. Sitting at FIDM’s presentation I just knew interior design should be my career. I signed up, graduated high school at age 17, graduated FIDM at 19, and had a design assistant job within a few weeks. So wild!

That first job was an amazing experience for someone fresh out of college. We were designing for celebrity clients and large luxury projects in the Los Angeles area, and we worked hard. My boss required we figure things out on our own and pushed us past our limits, which was a solid foundation of hands-on training for eventually becoming my own boss. And the celeb clients were a bonus! I was too green to appreciate it back then, but those hardcore working years were worth every minute.

How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM’s project-based learning model for me was key. Live, lecture classes were bulked into two days on campus, with a project to take home as homework for the rest of the week. So, five classes = five projects to manage each week. This is so similar to the reality of the design world, once I had an assistant job I took the project-life right in stride. It was great! The way FIDM taught project planning plus basic design skill was the perfect career prep.

Any upcoming project you're excited about? I was recently enlisted by an architect to provide interior design for a remodel client. It is always rewarding to work with a team, so I jumped right on board. The client’s parents custom built the home years ago, and have since passed away. She plans to remodel it and live there, carrying on the vibrancy and heritage of the place. We’ll be preserving a few things that were her parents’ such as the dining room chandelier and possibly some of the doors, keeping to the original style which is California Hacienda. Working alongside the architect, I’ve introduced fresh coloring and a few fun ideas. It is going to be gorgeous. Super excited to get that permit and start installing!

Learn more at dianelunadesign.com.

Categories:  Interior Design Alumni