Studio Designer Spotlight: Circaphiles with Designer Genevieve Trousdale

August 27, 2021In SD BlogBy Lauren Espineli

Studio Designer is thrilled to introduce Studio Designer Spotlight, a special series where we highlight some of our favorite partners in the design community. We are featuring the great designer community Circaphiles, founded by long-time Studio Designer client and accomplished interior designer, Genevieve Trousdale of Circa Genevieve ID. She sought to create an online community for sharing sources, continuing education, networking, and collaborating.

One of the many remarkable benefits of being a Circaphile keyholder is the access to tools that will enhance a designer’s life—especially when it comes to streamlining the way one manages orders and projects on Studio Designer. Based on her extensive use of the platform, Genevieve created detailed guides and templates on placing custom orders in Studio Designer that makes the entire process remarkably efficient. In this interview, Genevieve shares what inspired her to become a designer, how she uses Studio Designer to manage her business, what led her to create Circaphiles, and more. Plus, she is teaching a special Purchase Order Specifications webinar on Thursday, November 11th at 2pm Eastern, sign up to learn about placing custom orders with her Circaphiles templates and guides.

Design by Circa Genevieve ID | Photo by Amy Barnard

How and why did you decide to become an interior designer?

I come from a family of creatives—my grandmother was an avid collector and Francophile, my aunt had a nursery “Everything Green” in New Orleans, and mom was a landscape architect. It was in my blood, so I naturally felt drawn to think artistically.

Since I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an interior designer, I strategized my path to get there starting in high school with an outside consultant that culled Southeastern universities with good design schools. LSU was the default choice for everyone (else), living in Louisiana, but I knew I needed something “outside of the box” then or I’d never leave “home.”

I ripped off the bandaid and moved to the University of Georgia. It was the moment when I started the design program when I started soaking up every ounce of knowledge in the classroom. A true lightbulb went off in my head and I was hooked. I even steered away from potential boyfriends in college because I didn’t want to be distracted from going to the place I wanted and needed to be for my career to thrive. A little neurotic, I know!

Design by Circa Genevieve ID | Photo by Amy Barnard

Describe your design aesthetic and references that inspire your creativity.

My aesthetic draws from my traditional upbringing in Louisiana, picks up my tailored sensibility that rubbed off during my years at Michael Berman Ltd., and then the layered interior influence of my mentor Timothy Corrigan.  Altogether, the yield is a highly custom, thoughtfully refined interior. Solo travels all over the world have raised my standards for historically accurate details and have provided a strong foundation upon which I originate designs. With all my trips come thousands of photos (gates, china patterns, hardware, gardens) and I reference the many iphoto albums when starting my creative process.

How did your work as a designer lead you to create Circaphiles?

Residential projects throughout my career required me to travel outside of California borders as well as outside of U.S. borders. With this foreign territory and remote elements are thrown into layered and massive scopes of work, I quickly learned I needed to surround myself with reliable systems and procedures and start building a database of trades in order to perform, deliver…and impress. I have set a high bar for myself!

My day-to-day life mostly consisted of developing highly detailed budgets to meet the strictest of business managers’ standards, maintaining project timelines, running weekly expediting reports (custom created via Studio Designer), designing custom furniture, implementing inspection reports, and diligently recording resources I discovered and referred to me. Circaphiles is a manifestation of all of these valuable experiences which I am sharing with other like-minded designers (and students in design programs) in an effort to lift up the industry as a whole.

Design by Circa Genevieve ID | Photo by Amy Barnard

Can you describe your approach to discovering and building relationships with trusted vendors and tradespeople?

“Trial and error” occurred, to an extent, when we started projects in new locations. Some trades were referrals from designers who weren’t producing the same type of goods/finishers, etc. And then other trades that were referrals were wonderful and a prolific source for our projects. A successful collaboration isn’t solely based on the craftsmanship level, for me at least. Our personalities need to be compatible—sometimes I’m on a project with a trade for years!

In my mind, working relationships are built solely on mutual respect. Earning respect, which is a big part of Circaphiles’ mission, requires being educated and knowing how to anticipate. Working alongside custom vendors on intricate details, sometimes spread over years for one project, and traveling to projects far and wide together made for strong relationships. A lot of my best trades would always say something like “it’s tough to get anything past her, but she’s got a redeeming Southern softness”.

What is the origin of the name?

“Circa” stems from my design firm, Circa Genevieve ID, and is defined by a date or era. “Philes” translates to lovers of something in particular, or, in our case, our members and community. Together, “when you love something.”

Design by Circa Genevieve ID | Photo by Amy Barnard

Tell us about how you formed your first designer “circle.”

It came to be out of necessity.  Yes, it’s fun to talk shop with other designers, but we need each other’s advice from our combined experiences, especially when you are green, to be successful. Marea Clark and Margaret Ash, two of our Circaphiles ambassadors, were in my first designer circle in L.A. and I met them through other friends who moved here from the South. Marea worked for a variety of established designers and Margaret Ash hung her hat at Kelly Wearstler’s office here. We had a lot to figure out in the field and it felt so good to have reassurance, empathize with each other, and to share valuable learning lessons.

Why are your templates such a valuable resource for yourself and Circaphiles members? Describe why they are important for both seasoned and novice design professionals.

One of Circaphiles’ core tenets is that reinventing the wheel is not a productive, professional way to do business with vendors and clients. Our educational checklists, templates, and “What I Wish I Knew” expert guides hand you the daily tools you need to run all types of projects confidently. If you are a seasoned designer, you may know a lot of the information contained in these templates, but maybe you want to revamp your business practices or brush up on your knowledge on a certain design aspect —a muscle you haven’t exercised in years. You also may be growing your staff. They could desperately use the templates to not only learn, but also uphold your business’ reputation. Where is there to turn for the information?

Design by Circa Genevieve ID | Photo by Amy Barnard

How do you use Studio Designer to successfully run your business? What is your favorite aspect of the platform?

I enjoy how user-friendly it is, in general. When Studio switched to the “cloud” version, I was bracing for a major change, but it actually turned out to be significantly easier to navigate! And, you really can’t make a mistake that can’t be corrected easily. Studio Designer can be accessed and reconciled by your bookkeeper on a monthly basis, which takes enormous pressure off of me and allows me to focus on designing and expediting.  

Do you have any special “tips and/or tricks” on how to use the platform?

The capture tool is quite handy to quickly put all your products (or placeholders for them) into the system.  The most valuable tool for me lately has been the “timeline” tab feature within an item.  It tells you every single change you’ve made to it.  Recently, that history record saved me in a dispute about what was on my Purchase Order at the time of purchase, as they sometimes evolve during the process.  In that case, it saved me a couple thousand dollars!

How has Circaphiles changed your design process and how you manage your design business?

It is faster to use the Circaphiles directory to search for unique products and otherwise hard-to-find service providers for my projects. Using the comprehensive “What I Wish I Knew” expert guide we developed with Gail Baral, I can quickly pull scripts, questionnaires, and tips on how to interview potential clients and figure out which jobs are worth my time. We’re working on so many more guides like this! Having these systems in place so that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time is extremely valuable.

What is your vision for the future of Circaphiles?

I see Circaphiles as an essential program for solopreneurs, design firms, and offered as part of university curriculums. Vendors will eventually be offered their own sort of membership, while maintaining designer member’s privacy. With its multi-pronged approach to streamlining the design process, interior designers will realize that sharing has a positive impact on the industry’s reputation and value as a whole.

Exclusive Offer for Studio Designer Users: A discount of 10% will be extended to Studio Designer users for a Circaphiles membership, and, for the Educational Resources. The offer is valid for two months.
For membership, use the promo code: CIRCAPHILESxSD
For Educational Resources, use the promo code: SDTEAM10

Exclusive Offer for Circaphiles members: Enjoy your first month on Studio Designer free of charge. Reach out to info@studiodesigner.com when you sign up, and let us know you’re with Circaphiles!

Want to learn more about Studio Designer? 

Email info@studiodesigner.com, register for our weekly demo, or give us a call: 800-300-8715. We can’t wait to connect.

Studio Designer is the leading digital project management, product sourcing and accounting platform for the interior design industry.

Featured Photo: Amy Barnard