Commercial Corner: Gala Magriñá

Color samples with house plan, calculator and pen
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Gala Magriñá
Gala Magriñá

Raised in New York City and Barcelona, Gala Magriñá built on the success of her event design and production agency, M Crown Productions, and in 2017 launched Gala Magriñá Design, a New York-based commercial interior design agency.

Her goal is to change the world one space and conversation at a time, bringing mindfulness to the forefront of our daily lives and design practices and, as a result, living happier and more successful lives. Magriñá’s belief is that if we create mindful environments that have the power to heal and push us to be better versions of ourselves, in doing so, we are elevating individual consciousness and, in turn, the collective conscious.

How long have you been in the business?
I started a design and production agency in 2008, so 12 years. I came from the world of fashion, moved into doing events and pop-ups. I was heavily into doing visual merchandising and retail spaces. That led into clients saying, “You did our pop-up; now you have to do our retail store,” or “You did our fashion showroom; do our office as well.” Over the course of time and, more specifically in the last three years, it became apparent that creating permanent spaces for people was much more rewarding and less stressful than doing temporary spaces.

What drew you to commercial interior design?
I was just used to servicing corporate and commercial clients, so going into commercial was a natural extension. Office spaces are just a huge way to impact people. Before COVID-19, we spent more time at the office than at home. Studies show that a healthy, well-designed office can boost productivity by up to 12%. I became an advocate of creating design-friendly, happy, healthy office spaces and, in doing so, affecting a large amount of people. That just wraps up my ethos.

Who inspires you?
I really love Kelly Wearstler — she’s the queen of beauty — and Richard Christiansen, the owner of Chandelier Creative. Everything he does, even in his personal life — the homes, the offices, the environments he creates — just push the creative limit. I find that super-inspiring because not many people do that. And while I have a creative side, I also have a spiritual, grounded side that does meditation, so the other half of that is Thom Knowles, my meditation master. I could listen to him talk for hours.

Any tips for someone just starting out?
Work at an established agency; it doesn’t have to be big. Just be sure the company and culture fits with your values, and then learn the processes and procedures. Interior design is a business. Without knowing how to pitch and having your processes and procedures buttoned up, you won’t be successful. If you reach the point where you’re not learning any more and are ready for the next challenge, go out on your own, and there will be a whole new set of things to learn.

Explain what you mean by holistic design.
I define regular interior design as the meeting of beauty and function — beautiful and functional spaces that work well. Holistic interior design goes beyond the physical world of furniture and decor. There’s existing energy within the space that we can shift to make it more peaceful, abundant or successful. There are electromagnetic frequencies — electronic pollution both natural and manmade — that can be disruptive to the nervous system.

We look at maximizing daylight and purification of air. They are instant mood boosters, and light, in particular, boosts our circadian rhythm. The light tells our bodies to be more alert at this time or more tired that time. With no natural light in an office building, you’re cut off from that. A lot of the health problems we’re seeing is the result of being cut off from nature and these natural cues. Another part is bringing nature into the space with biophilia. We work with color; we work with aromatherapy. It’s a basically 360-degree view of not only the physical world but all of these other things that influence us and make us happy and healthy that aren’t addressed with furniture and decor.

How will commercial spaces evolve in the COVID-19 age?
There is more interest in holistic design and a realization that this is what we need now, especially regarding air quality. Our indoor spaces are 90% more polluted than our outdoor spaces. Now that COVID-19 has come to light, and particularly because it’s a respiratory disease, people are more aware of their personal health and how environments affect that. There’s a bigger awareness of it thanks to COVID-19. Our spaces matter.

How does it progress?
I feel the energy in spaces, so for me it’s very clear that we’re moving in the right direction and that this is how it should be. There is already a wealth of information that says that fluorescent light is bad for you and sterile air spreads more sickness. Once people see the science, get sick or see something like COVID-19, there’s an awareness there. I want to believe that this is a better way forward in terms of our spaces and that the future will be better.

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