Jean-Marc Fray Antiques prides itself in working with some of the best designers in the world, and this week we’re excited to feature one of the best designers in the industry, Annie Downing. Get to know Annie yourself in our interview below!

What did you do before becoming a designer?
I worked in politics and media in Washington, D.C.

When did you know that you wanted to be an interior designer? Or that you wanted to own your own business?
From a young age I would rearrange my room, moving furniture, working with the layout. I took interior design and art classes at night while I lived in Washington, D.C.  I knew I wanted to own my own business after having my first child.

How did you get your start? // What were your first steps?
I lived in and sold 3 homes while we resided in D.C.  I designed them all and friends started asking me for help and told me I should charge them.  I thought, “well that’s a good idea.”

Tell us about your design/creative process?  
OOOOOHHHH. It’s the best part. Honestly, you really have to be in the right mind-set to create and work on a project. It can be mentally exhausting! I always meet with a client, see their space, or we go over their plans and talk about how they want their space to feel, we share a couple of images, and I try to interpret it while adding my own design to it. We pull fabric samples, finish samples, paint colors, wall coverings, trims, tear sheets, furniture, anything, even a piece of jewelry, and I literally toss them around, sometimes on the floor, sometimes on our work table, and when we know we know because it will just click and we say, “that’s it!” It’s very intuitive. Then we hope the client loves it as much as we do and says, “go for it”. Voila!

What project are you most proud of so far? Why?
I think the project I am most proud of is my parents home in South Texas.  They finally trusted me and my vision and loved the end result. That was truly an affirmation for me.

Knowing your book collection – what are your go-to design books or your favorite book?
Parish Hadley, 60 years of American Design, Frances Elkins’ book.  I always re-visit designers like Billy Baldwin.

Where are your favorite places to shop/source for projects?
Jean-Marc Fray,  James Showroom, Supply Showroom, our own resource library.  We have sourced some great wallpapers and fabrics and have some great pieces of furniture.

Besides interior design, what are your hobbies?
I love to read, I like to take pictures and like to exercise.  I have 3 great children and right now I am very focused on raising kind and loving little ones, so if that’s considered a hobby I would include that.

What advice do you have for someone wanting to enter the design field who doesn’t necessarily have the degree or the experience? 
I think you should read as much as you can, everything is rooted in history and there is so much to learn from the works of earlier designers. So much is still relevant and the more you know the better you can feel about your decisions.  Be informed, know technical terminology.  Nothing makes you look more inadequate than not knowing basic terminology in the design industry.

Do any of your travels inspire your style? If so, where? 
Oh yes, a trip to Italy last year really inspired me.  Florence, Rome & Venice.   As well as trip to California.  Travel is a huge source of inspiration, I tried to set a goal to take a trip once a month, even it was just to a new hotel in San Antonio or something like that.  It has been hard to keep, but it has helped really open my eyes.

Favorite design blogs, local design shops/boutiques/etc., favorite place to eat in Austin?
I don’t read too many blogs, I wish I could.  I love Jean-Marc Fray of course, I love Supply Showroom for color.  By George because their clothes are inspiring.  My favorite places are Clark’s Oyster Bar and Uchiko. I love Josephine House and Elizabeth Street Cafe as well.

Do you attend any professional events/workshops in the design industry? Or markets? What do you recommend? 
Round Top twice a year.  I always find things for projects there.  High Point once a year to visit vendors that we carry in our showroom.  New York market every 2 years.

Tell us about a favorite JMF piece that you’ve previously purchased for a project or for your own home? 
A pair of gorgeous Italian vintage brass and glass lamps for a client’s dining room. They finished the space off perfectly. I can’t wait to purchase a piece from JMF for myself!

Favorite design period? (e.g., Mid-century Modern, Art Deco, Industrial, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Contemporary, Scandinavian, etc.)
I lean more towards Mid-Century and Art Deco, I LOVE a mix.  I like to describe our interiors as classic and modern at the same time.