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Soicher-Marin and the world of Possibility…

July 28, 2009

Jennifer Balest, Ed Marin, Laurie March, and Tracy Hiner spend the day talking artFew feelings are as satisfying as seeing something beautiful in a full range of options. I’ll admit I felt this way for the first time in my life upon being given a 64 color box of Crayola crayons, and I can remember the shape of the carton, the way the crayons smelled, and my frank concern in getting all the crayons to stay in their original places.

Over time, I’ve felt that same feeling, in an American Apparel store, seeing a full range of T-shirt colors, with a set of samples from Ceasarstone, a rainbow pack of Sharpie markers, and most recently, with a fan deck of Farrow & Ball paint colors (yum).

What I think I am really responding to in each of these situations is the wide world of Possibility. Beautiful options stretched out before me, simply awaiting my whim to decide what direction I will venture in next…

I felt that same punch of adrenaline and the whirring wheels of my brain about halfway into my lovely visit with the gang at Soicher-Marin. Dirty little secret of interior designers large and small, Soicher-Marin makes designers look impossibly cultured, smart, and well-sourced. Similar to my company, Soicher-Marin has so many diverse abilities and resources, it takes a few minutes for the scope of their possibility to settle into your head. During a lengthy tour of their massive showroom and  factory, I tried to think of something to stump them with. Every request that I fired off was met with a smile and a story of the wonderful path they take to accomplish just about everything relating to art. Shesh!

CEO Ed Marin, is the personable, friendly and incredibly knowledgeable Captain of the SM ship. Yes, they woo you with coffee, chocolate bagels (Tracy!) and easy conversation, but I immediately felt at home talking with Ed about his team and what they can do for interior designers across the world. And it’s a lot…

Ed, Jennifer, and Tracy agreed to let me ask them some hard hitting questions while I guzzled their coffee. Here are some of my favorite parts of our energetic morning:

@EvangelistaLA: What role does a frame play in custom artwork?

@MarinCeo: Framing exists to let the art tell its’ story. It’s like a little black dress on a woman- sure it has to fit right, but its’ job is to show a woman in her best light, to frame her. In framing, less is actually harder to do than more.

@EvangelistaLA: What is your view of the future of art? (heavy, I know…)

@MarinCeo: There is a shakeout happening in the industry. Success means being more customer-minded. You can’t force feed junk into the market anymore, people want quality work at a good value. Value is the key, and you really have to do your due diligence to determine what kind of artwork you want. The consumer has to know going into it, if they are looking for a piece that they will outgrow in three years, or if they want something meaningful that their kids are going to fight over after they are gone.”

@EvangelistaLA: I know just what you mean. In my family we have a running joke about writing our names on the back of things we want when someone dies. It’s a little morbid, but we laugh hysterically over it, and who has scratched someone else’s name out, or beaten you to it. Speaking of family- your team here at Soicher Marin seems like a very tight knit crew. What does that feel like, knowing you fostered that?

@MarinCeo: It’s really gratifying. We all worked together recently on a project  that required everyone to collaborate and problem solve together. We created a collection of oversized canvasses that required custom stretchers to accommodate the really long span of walls in the building. Watching people I’ve trained for 14 years work together on a project like this is like being a proud parent of kids who are getting along in public.

@EvangelistaLA: I love that! Now that I’ve got you feeling all warm and reminiscent, I’m going to see if I can’t catch you off guard. Tell me a secret!

@MarinCeo: Hmmm…..(At this point, Ed seems to be sorting through several thoughts in his head, and several fascinating accompanying facial expressions) Want to know a good one?  I’m actually an introvert. I’m generally an anti-social person. I’ve found being on Twitter to be very cathartic, and enjoy the relationships that have grown there.

@EvangelistaLA: Uhm…. After spending the morning with you, I just don’t know if I believe that! I follow you on Twitter, too, and find you to be very friendly. What gives?

@MarinCeo: I promised my wife and staff that I’d learn how to be charming this year. We’ve also grown quite a bit in the past years- with over 30 people here, I’m really enjoying learning more about our team.

@EvangelistaLA: Ok… now I’m going to bug the Art girls. Tracy and Jennifer- what have been your favorite pieces lately?

@TracyHiner: I loved working on the big wallpapers…( I think a lot of people don’t understand the full range of possibilities when creating a custom wallpaper. You really can do ANYTHING and I love to try to push the boundaries of what can be done with fabric and wallpaper. I get excited just thinking about it!

@JenniferBalest: Definitely the collection for the Spa at the L’Auberge Del Mar Hotel. ( Working on that project we found a wonderful photographer and not only did we use her work there, we added her to our line this last season. It’s great when that kind of stuff happens!

@EvangelistaLA: Being a little excited about Twitter and social media myself, what does the online community mean to you guys?

@TracyHiner: Posting online is a wonderful way to explain all of your ideas, and to test things that you have on your mind. I get excited about new ideas, so having somewhere to share that is great. I also love seeing what other people are up to and what is inspiring them.

@JenniferBalest: It’s wonderful to show we can be anywhere and find anything.

@EvangelistaLA: After seeing some of the wide range of art in production today, I can believe that! One last good question. Where do you get your inspiration from?

@TracyHiner: I love listening to Requiem for a Dream soundtrack. Dark? Yes, but it always works and keeps me focused when I need to finish things. I also adore Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I can’t believe you’ve never seen it!

@EvangelistaLA: I’m putting it on my Netflix after I leave you…

@JenniferBalest: My best inspiration comes from the 405. Seriously. I’ve got more Post It notes on my dashboard with ideas I’ve gotten sitting in traffic… Thank goodness Tracy can translate it all. Oh, and you have to get the extra sticky kind so that they don’t fall off!

@EvangelistaLA: (laughing) I always trust hanging tips from an art gallery!

I loved spending time at Soicher-Marin, and know I’ll be using their deep collections of artwork for my clients.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2009 10:02 am

    Great interview and of course a great photo of all of you! :))) Thank you for sharing!

  2. lauriemarch permalink*
    July 28, 2009 10:14 am

    We are very caffeinated in this picture. Lots of smiling… You would totally dig them, Marie. 🙂

  3. creativecardboardconcepts permalink
    July 28, 2009 10:57 am

    Farrow and Ball makes me swoon. I love this interview, Laurie!

    • lauriemarch permalink*
      July 28, 2009 11:05 am

      Me too! Their colors always look so incredible on the walls… Thanks for stopping by!

  4. July 28, 2009 12:44 pm

    I just spent the last 20 minutes reading through the interview & it was a fun one! I even went out and started listening to the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack on (yes I really did)…

    It really does sound like a great group at Soicher-Marin and heck, judging by the smiles on your faces you’re either high on caffeine and/or high on each others energy (my guess is both)!

    Now here’s my question, did you all meet via Twitter? Or had you met before? If it was through Twitter, then I’d say that’s pretty damn amazing. @MarinCEO is making good on his promise and it’s great to see all of you so open-minded to new technologies whilst others are so closed off to so much as the thought of embracing them.

    • July 28, 2009 2:18 pm


      thanks for the kind comments. We are smiling in the picture because we were genuinely happy having met that morning: kindred spirits in both business and design (a hard to find combo). Laurie is an “11” on a scale of 1-10. She and her biz model is what forward looking designers and companies should emulate. It’s based on adding value, rather than charging fees. What a concept. We met on Twitter and Laurie is among my first followers. We share(d) a coffee addiction (I’m recovering) first, and then I grew to appreciate her insight, energy and spirit.

      • lauriemarch permalink*
        July 28, 2009 3:19 pm

        We did meet on Twitter, love the tone and supportive nature of @MarinCeo’s conversations… Ed, thank you for the kind words about our business model. We strive to offer clients a service that brings them quality resources, amazing creativity, and fantastic vendors.

        We often save our clients our entire fee in designer discounts, avoiding change orders, and catching mistakes before they happen. It’s all about what WE can do for THEM!

        Thanks again, Ricardo and Ed!

  5. July 28, 2009 5:00 pm

    What a refreshing interview! Your authenticity shines through. Thank you for making me smile.

    • lauriemarch permalink*
      July 29, 2009 11:07 am

      Much love, Marcy. Can’t wait to see the fireplace pictures as you finish it! Please share soon…

  6. July 28, 2009 5:50 pm

    Love the GREAT picture of you and the SM crew! I have had the opportunity to spend time with them in their office too and as you did, I fell instantly in love with the girls and Ed!! Loved your interview and knowing what a great business man Ed is, I am now dying to know more about your business model. If Ed thinks it is great, then it must be!! Tobi

    • lauriemarch permalink*
      July 29, 2009 11:05 am

      Tobi Fairley, you delicious designstress… So delighted you popped in to visit! I’m so glad to hear you also felt the possibilities at Soicher-Marin. My brain wouldn’t stop creating art for days after we met… I’d be thrilled to dish the secret to my sauce, although from your incredible talents, I suspect you know them all, and could share a thought or two…

      Sending you mental internet pink peonies… 🙂

  7. August 2, 2009 2:28 pm

    A delicious and refreshing write up… informative, fun, engaging and good prompting for a visit. Thank you for sharing and expressing it in the wonderful LM way! More please…

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