Interior designer Melanie Coddington founded Coddington Design in 2005. With design studios in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Melanie brings livable luxury to every project she touches. Whether it’s a residential remodel or a ground-up build, Coddington Design oversees projects from conception to installation.
We sat down with Melanie to discuss what sets Coddington Design apart from the rest, how business has changed since the pandemic and the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Can you tell us how Coddington Design was conceived?
I’m an Aries, an only child, and I have a ridiculously unfounded sense of optimism. I quit my job working for a residential interior design firm with the intention of launching Coddington Design. I think I had one client who was ready to hire me but no portfolio to speak of. I was lucky enough to land a coveted spot in the San Francisco Decorator’s showcase house. I put the cost of the entire room on my personal credit cards and hoped I would get some clients. That bedroom landed me two prominent socialites in San Francisco and launched my career. I was very, very lucky. I mentor and coach other business owners now and I do not recommend this approach to them!
What do you think sets you apart from most other design studios?
We have a unique niche — we help high achieving female tech leaders design their homes to support their lives and their families. These women expect the design process to be fun and informative, but they have a lot going on and not a lot of time. So we have a super streamlined process and make sure we are respectful of their time and money.
How important is collaboration to you and your process with clients?
Collaboration is essential. We have a style quiz that helps ensure when we reference a style like “mid century modern” we both know what that means. We spend a lot of time finding out what is important to our clients and gathering feedback. We send personal emails every week describing what we are working on and asking for responses from our clients. Full color photo realistic renderings really help make sure we are all on the same page before anything gets purchased or built.
“I love that brands can no longer be neutral about social issues. The brands who are silent about Black Lives Matter or LGBTQI+ issues are being cancelled.”
Does environmental sustainability factor into your projects?
Yes. It’s something we ask our clients to rate on a scale of one to ten before we start their project. I grew up in Humboldt County and went to Humboldt State University — I’ve been talking about this stuff since the 90s!
How has the global pandemic impacted your business—any silver linings?
The silver lining of Covid is that now 95% of our clients work 100% virtually. They love the flexibility and safety of working over email and shared docs. I’ve always had a virtual team of designers, but we’ve taken things to a whole new level in 2020. We’ve installed wallpaper, decorative lights, even chosen paint color over Facetime or Zoom.
What would you consider to be the most substantial change in the field of design and architecture since you opened your firm?
I opened my firm in 2005. The technological advances since then are so incredible! I mean, all designers at that time used to have a fax machine, a land line, and an office close to the design center. The ability to collaborate with architects and builders online is so efficient. The online shopping experience is phenomenal, I just LOVE the way we work now. We can source from all over the world and google the answer to any question.
How do you see the world of design changing for the better in the near future?
I love that brands can no longer be neutral about social issues. The brands who are silent about Black Lives Matter or LGBTQI+ issues are being cancelled. I’m an out lesbian who never felt like I fit in the traditonal, established design community. Now I proudly post our company values, including diversity, on our website. We prefer to source from small, minority owned businesses whenever we can. I expect to see many more designers and brands do the same in the near future.