Interior Design Grad Currently Working On Home Formerly Owned by Prince
Ruben Marquez graduated from FIDM with his Interior Design degree in 2010, and just two years ago, he went into business for himself. He is now the Owner and Principal Interior Designer for his own firm, Ruben Marquez, Inc. He is currently writing a book on interior design, and also working on a home in Beverly Hills that was once owned by Prince. We caught up with the talented grad to learn more about his exciting career in interior design.
Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up surrounded by design pretty much my entire life. My father had a ton of rental properties that, as a kid, I would help demolish and remodel with my bare hands. As I got older, I drafted remodel plans (by hand) and would go with my dad to the city to get approved permits. My mom was always in charge of decorating our homes. After my studies at FIDM in 2010, I landed a design job with Santana Interiors and Jennifer Bevan Interiors in South Pasadena. In 2018, I branched out on my own and have been flourishing ever since!
What originally attracted you to the field of interior design and what keeps you drawn to it? At first I thought I wanted to be an architect, I even took a few classes back in college. As a kid, I collected almost every Architectural Digest magazine; so one day I was skimming one of the AD issues and read about interior design as a profession and that prompted my search for an accredited interior design program. I’m constantly drawn to interior design because I believe our homes are our private sanctuaries. And especially now with everyone staying home, you are forced to think about what you like/dislike about your home and thoughts on how you want to change your space starts to formulate in our minds. In my opinion, home design is more important than it ever was.
Describe your aesthetic as an interior designer: As an interior designer, my aesthetic is constantly evolving. When I’m working with clients, I put my ego aside and listen to what my client is really wanting for their home. I may not always favor their personal styles, my job is to execute their own vision into reality, not mine. It’s never about me or what I want. As you will learn in your career, you never want to have a disappointed client! My personal style has always been considered to be transitional. I’m obsessed with mixing periods of old and new. I grew up having period antiques around the house, so I have a soft spot for those heirloom pieces. But equally, I love anything that is contemporary and masculine.
Your project experience extends to Dubai, Singapore, China, and Mexico. Can you tell us a little about that? In Mexico, I did a pre-construction design for a beach house for a friend of mine who moved his manufacturing facility there and wanted to build a home. While working with Jennifer Bevan, I had the privilege of fully designing and project managing large scale estate homes in Dubai and Singapore. Designing an international project was a whole different story. You have to adjust your way of thinking, communicating and essentially designing. Specifying in LA is not the same as specifying for a home in the Middle East or Asia. And you have to be extra patient with communicating with project managers whose English is not their first language. Overall the experience was unforgettable and I would do all over again!
Tell us about a favorite project you've worked on, and what you loved about it: I’m currently working on an interesting home in Beverly Hills, a house that was once owned by Prince; I believe it was the only home he owned in LA. The lovely owner I work for has exquisite taste and I’m honored to put my touch in Prince’s house. Aside from that, I’d say I love all my projects. Each client and home has its own identity.
Tell us a little about your work with HGTV’s “Celebrity Holiday Homes”: While I was attending FIDM, I connected with Sandra Espinet, a designer from Cabo, Mexico. She’s so amazing and I’m happy to consider her a mentor and dear friend. Sandy was the featured celebrity designer, and she asked me to be her “on-camera assistant.” We had such a blast doing the show! It was a makeover show that transformed celebrity homes into holiday themes.
How are you staying inspired during the pandemic? It has certainly been an interesting year! Since we’re not able to attend trade shows for the time being, I’ve been joining various webinars hosted by vendors. I’m lucky to have a clique of designer friends from all over (LA to SF) and we’re always bouncing ideas off each other. Vendors have been sending me various samples, books and goodies to keep us inspired which has been thoughtful of them. And of course there’s always the easily accessible social media platforms.
Why did you choose FIDM? So this is an embarrassing answer, I was in my early 20’s watching the reality show The Hills and I randomly looked up FIDM and saw that they had an interior design program. This was the same time I skimmed through my archived AD magazines. I told my parents about it, and they made an appointment to tour the campus and I was immediately in love and wanted to start taking classes.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? FIDM gave me the learning foundation I needed to prepare for the workforce that followed. All the technical drawing, computer aided drafting, color theory, material classes really prepared me. I recall how time consuming the project assignments were, pulling those all-nighters, but had it not been for those experiences, I wouldn’t been able to perform my job as a professional interior designer, for me or for anyone else. I’d also add that FIDM is a good networking tool. It is not just a school where you take classes; you have immediate access to working professionals in your field.
Any advice for current FIDM Students in this virtual collegiate world? First off, good for you for sticking through! I can’t imagine how challenging this may be for you. Because I’ve never had this experience, the only advice I can offer is to have patience, meditate if you can. Bear with your instructors, they are coping also.
What is your biggest goal right now? Gosh right now, it’s to survive 2020, ha! My goals right now include adding fresh imagery to my expanding portfolio, projects that I’ve been working on during Covid. We are completing a contemporary home that a local publication is interested in featuring upon photography, so crossing my fingers for that! And lastly, I’ve been working on drafts for a book I’m writing in relation to interior design. This will be a ways out, but I’m very excited about it!
Anything else you’d like to share? Any Interior Design student reading this, my advice would be to work for an established designer first before even thinking about working on your own. FIDM is good at connecting students with design professionals; utilize the benefits you have. You need to get working experience under your belt. This business is harder than you think, it is not always fancy and glamorous. Other than that, it’s a great career and you will be exposed to so much beauty. Good luck and be safe!
Keep up with Ruben Marquez at rubenmarquezinc.com and on Instagram @ruben_marquez.