San Francisco transplant Shandele Gomucio may have gotten her start in commercial environmental design, but once she moved to Boulder her career path took a slight change. One of her first projects was designing vintage inspired environment for the original Levi Strauss store. Now, with little commercial opportunities in the area, Gomucio focuses on creating unique personal spaces while balancing form and function.S
Yellow Scene: For those of us that don’t know, what is environmental design?
Shandele Gomucio: Environmental design is kind of a misnomer because everybody thinks it means environmentally friendly practices, and it can mean that, but really it means the design of environments. I’m not really an interior designer, and I’m not really an interior architect, I’m an environmental designer. I design environments, which is three-dimensional spaces and it includes some branding.
YS: So what brought you to Boulder?
SG: My husband’s job. His job didn’t last long, but we were already deep into a house project so we stayed and now we’ve been here for eleven years. We fell in love with Boulder for so many reasons, and we continue to love it here. That’s also when I started focusing on residential. I did one or two projects that I really, really enjoyed, and I’ve been doing residential ever since.
YS: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
SG: That’s a really good question. I would say my aesthetic is modern where form and function meet. That’s probably the first piece and then I would say, I’m always looking to warm up modern interiors with ethnic or organic materials. I love letting materials be what they are in spaces. I don’t ever try to fake anything. I want every material to have an authentic presence. If it’s wood tongue and groove let it be wood tongue and groove. If you want stone on the floor get stone, don’t get a tile that looks like stone. So, I’d say authentic and earthy yet modern.
YS: What’s your process from the time that you meet a client, to helping them achieve their perfect environment?
SG: That’s tricky; I’m actually still figuring that out. The first thing I do is get to know the client in a brief meeting, and really hear how they live in their space. I really take into account their passions and drive in life. Once I meet them and learn how they live in their space, I put myself in the shoes of the original architect of the building and I think, “if I were the architect and I were her today with the today’s technology and today’s design sense what would I do?” So I really try to take each structure and elevate it to where it should be, but I always keep in mind the original intent of the architect in the process and that’s a big piece of what I do. If somebody calls me and has a craftsman house and they want to do something opposite in the interior, I generally talk them into bridging the craftsman with the contemporary instead of letting people go hogwild with whatever they want. I really feel that the original intention and integrity of the building is really important. But it’s not always a meet in the middle, usually when people have seen my work they have literally seen it. They’ve been in someone’s home and they heard about me. This makes a lot of people trust me because they have already seen what I can do, and they let me do what I want.
YS: What influenced your transition from commercial design to residential?
SG: To be perfectly honest there was not a lot of commercial design work. I found Boulder to be lacking in design and branding when I first moved here 11 years ago. It’s not the case now, Boulder is catching up. San Francisco is a design mecca, and then you come to small town like Boulder where people would rather spend $7,000 on a bike than on a sofa. It’s definitely a harder place to work, and I found in the commercial space, especially, architects were taking on both exterior and interior and there wasn’t a lot of room for environmental design. The flip is that I really love residential. I grew up in a family that always remodeled homes nonstop; it’s how my parents would save their marriage. I grew up doing it.
YS: Do you think you’ll go back to working in commercial?
SG: I would love to do more commercial work. If the opportunity presents itself I would definitely be interested in it. I was actually just thinking about putting the work I did for Levi on my website, so people know that I actually do commercial too.
YS: Is there anything that I missed that you’re dying to tell our readers?
SG: You know, I really just want to drive in the idea that this area has really grown. Boulder is a very interesting place. If you go to other places that have the money that Boulder has, people spend a lot more money on their homes. Because people here are so drawn to the outdoors and being active, they are much more likely to put the money into bikes and climbing trips than remodels. I respect that, and it has made my job interesting and more opportunistic. It’s a great opportunity to help people do their first remodel even though financially they would be able to do five or six of them. It’s just now becoming priority for them, and that’s a great thing to be a part of.
To check out Gomucio’s work check out her online portfolio.