Victoria Adesanmi may have studied industrial design and textile technology at North Carolina State University, but she always wanted to work in fashion. “Like anyone else interested in working in high fashion, I knew I had to make the move to New York City,” she said.
After her big move, she took a typical career route to explore designing accessories—interning and pursuing her first full-time job—but it lead to an atypical expectation. “I was miserable at my first job and ended up taking a night class at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It was there a classmate of mine introduced me to Pensole, a footwear design academy in Portland, OR.”
After relocating to Portland, Adesanmi was guided to color and material design by a professor-turned-mentor, D’wayne Edwards. Through the colorful program, she secreted a full-time job at adidas as a color and material designer, working across both sport and lifestyle categories. Since, she’s been able to influence footwear products for some of the most coveted collaborations with notable athletes and artists.
Today, with one foot still in shoe design, Adesanmi is stepping into a new design world and branching out into interiors. Whitewall spoke with the designer to learn more about launching a multi-disciplinary design studio this year named Aesthetics Studios, its very first project, and how she’s thinking about the experience of space today.
WHITEWALL: What have you learned while working in color and material design that has helped you with interior design thus far?
VICTORIA ADESANMI: There’s a lot of synergy between color + material design + interior design. As a color + material designer, I’m constantly thinking about how a color and/or material will execute on a shoe and the inspiration behind the palettes I’ve created. Interior design is similar, except now I’m building color and material palettes for a space that is influenced by my client. Good design tells a story, and I want to ensure whether it’s a shoe or space, that the design is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, yet pushing the boundaries of design.
WW: How does your passion for design now go beyond product to interior design?
VA: I’ve always had a passion for interior design. I remember as a child, I’d always support my dad with rearranging the furniture or painting the house. Fast forward as an adult, my friends would always ask me for hotels or restaurants with the best aesthetics.
I’ll never forget December of 2017, I attended Jay Z’s 4:44 concert with some girlfriends. I remember giving my homegirl an entire dissertation of the stage design. Of course, she didn’t think it was that deep [Laughs], but a week later, an interview came out in Architectural Digest and it was everything I had mentioned.
It was that moment, I knew I wanted to pursue interior design including residential, commercial, experiential, and stage design. Fast forward to 2021, I finally launched my very own design studio—Aesthetics Studios, a multi-disciplinary design studio I created based in Los Angeles that focuses on interior design, creative direction and objects through storytelling and re-imagination. I truly believe every space you encounter should tell a story, and I am excited to take the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years to bring these stories and spaces to life through my studio.
WW: What did you want to achieve with your first project?
VA: For my first project, I was tasked with revamping a 104-square-foot mezzanine loft in Culver City. I wanted to reimagine what Black joy could look like, as I wanted this space to feel both playful and vibrant, yet mature. Knowing that furniture would be limited due to the small square footage, I relied heavily on artwork from Black artists and artwork that is representative of Black people. Since I knew that my client would utilize most of her time here due to working from home, and with empathy being at the forefront of my design process, I wanted to design a space where she would feel both safe and seen. Throughout the design process, I ensured I met my client’s priorities, but I also wanted to exceed her expectations by defying the rules of a small space.
WW: What do you feel a space communicates about its inhabitant?
VA: I love this question because empathy is constantly at the forefront of my design process. Interior design should always consider the people who may inhabit the space. My goal first and foremost, is to always design with empathy in mind for my clients to feel both safe and seen and to create spaces that are representative of their identity with their art, and their cultures reflected around them.
As an Black designer, my priority first and foremost is to design spaces in which Black people see themselves in euphoria and luxury. It’s my dream to encapsulate Black joy and Black imagination through interior design. Design should always reflect the image of its people. I will change the world by designing spaces of joy, safety, and belonging for my people, for us and by us.
WW: How are you thinking about space today? Is it an experience?
VA: Every space you encounter should be an experience. Think about all the things you do in your home and how you navigate your space. We each utilize our space differently. Even outside of home, consider the hotels you’ve visited and the restaurants you’ve dined in, and the memories you’ve made in those places. I think it’s so dope that how we experience a space varies from person to person. It’s like going to a concert and watching your favorite artist perform, but depending on where you sit in the concert you can have a totally different experience. As a designer, it’s important to note how a space will be utilized by different individuals and to consider how it will be experienced from all vantage points.
WW: How would you describe your design ethos? Holistic?
VA: As a believer and follower of Christ, it’s important that all my ideas are inspired and influenced by the Holy Spirit. Growing up in church I’ve always known God as a healer, provider, and way maker, but it’s so crazy to know that the first way that we were introduced to Him is as a Creator. If God created the heavens + earth, I truly believe the possibilities are endless for the spaces and ideas He’ll create through me. I believe if I continue to remain in Him, He will continue to give me dope ideas and provide the playbook for how to navigate each project I have the privilege of working on.
WW: Space-wise, what would you like to work on in the future?
VA: So many things! It would be a dream to design a boutique hotel. I’m super passionate about travel and would love to design a hotel both domestically and internationally. I’m also a huge fan of music, so building out stages and experiences for artists for a tour is definitely a goal of mine. I also hope to have my own homeware line as well. A new build is definitely on the list too!
WW: What is your personal space like?
VA: I actually can’t wait to share this. I’ve noticed the projects I’ve recently completed are actually different from my personal taste which is great because it shows my range as a designer. I personally have a more of masculine and minimalistic style. And of course, those who know me, know I’m a fan of neutral colors. I’m actually working on a video series now to share my personal space which I’m super excited to share.
WW: What are you working on next?
VA: I recently completed an office for a client in Downtown Los Angeles. With the work from home shift, I wanted my client to feel inspired knowing that he’d utilize his home office outside of his nine-to-five job as my client is a creative who loves both music and photography.
At the moment, I’ve started initial conversations with two different clients which would be my biggest projects thus far—a residential and commercial project. Prayers up!