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Creative by Design

Meet Joseph Fava of Fava Design Group

It didn’t take long for Joseph Fava to leap from his cushy job at a Florida design firm to owning his own business – five years, to be exact — but the now-well-known interior designer knows he made the right move. “I started with no prospects, just the idea that I wanted to start my own firm,” he says. “As luck would have it, a few days after I resigned from my previous role, a client I’d designed two projects for called me and asked me to redo the interior of his yacht.”

Fava hit the ground running and is still moving today, thanks to his sterling reputation in the communities of Florida, the Blue Ridge and other east coast locales. The day we spoke, he’d just returned from a winter furniture and textile show in Paris. “It’s a very social event filled with fabulous parties, informative presentations and myriad items to inspire. It’s great fun, and we try to attend every winter,” he shares, clearly already back in his groove despite arriving home just the night before. He’s no stranger to the challenges and demands of owning a business — in fact, he comes from a long line of entrepreneurs; his family owned one of the largest produce companies on the east coast in his childhood home of Baltimore since the turn of the 20th century. “I always joke I’m the only designer who can drive a forklift,” he laughs. “Since I come from a family business, I know how to wear all the hats.”

Still, while energy and know-how is certainly part of the puzzle, creativity and vision are more important to Fava, who enjoys the exchange of ideas with his clients. He admits that he cannot put a label on his firm’s aesthetic — like great design itself, it is always evolving.

“I have a philosophy about design and designers,” he reveals. “It is my belief that the job of the designer is to create a unique space for the client. I’ve never wanted to place a specific label on my design aesthetic because when you do that, the client is merely buying your style. Our projects are unique; we try not to duplicate fabrics or furniture. My job is to take a vision and use my expertise and knowledge to create designs based on that vision. I am proud that I have been published for contemporary and traditional looks and everything in between.”

He values the opportunity to stay informed about new, creative ideas – which is the reason he travels to Europe, where certain design elements are debuting far ahead of the U.S. — and to introduce new ideas to his clients. Then there are other times clients push him in new directions as well. A time or two, someone’s taste seemed out of the box at first – then morphed into one of the company’s most memorable projects.

“We had a client we designed an office space for. Then, a year later, he bought a condo in Fort Lauderdale, which he asked us to design. He wanted a red kitchen and very colorful slabs in all the bathrooms. I tried to guide him to more neutral countertop slabs — but he promptly rejected those, as they didn’t conform to his vision. Eventually, we found a slab with reds and grays and blacks that he loved — the rest of the bathrooms in the house embraced his love of colorful slabs as well. Making me think outside of the box turned into one of our best projects and received positive accolades.”

In his personal residence, Fava’s evolving tastes and sensibilities are constantly on display from room to room. He cherishes antique pieces he has inherited from his family, deftly combining them with modern accents and eye-catching artwork. Art, according to Fava, is crucial to any well-designed home.

“Art is an element that can make or break the space. A client can spend a fortune on furniture but can ruin the whole aesthetic with poor choices in art and accessories. Therefore, I like to curate collections for my clients,” he says. “We all know art comes in many shapes, sizes, and materials, so I like to create a collection that encompasses oil paintings, photography and watercolors with metal sculpture or glass installations. A diverse collection is more interesting.”