15 Minutes with Stephanie Sarkies-Schabot
We caught up with Stephanie Sarkies-Schabot, a Pembrooke & Ives Design Director, for a 15-minute Q&A on her way to a site visit.
What role did design play in your childhood?
My father was a builder and plumber, and my uncle was an engineer. I grew up on job sites as they built both our home and my uncle’s home together. As a kid, I learned the building process and construction because I was immersed in it. As a teenager living in the Hudson Valley, I would visit the Woodstock area to be surrounded by sculptors, potters, painters, and other creatives which sparked a strong passion for art.
Was there a specific moment when you knew that design was going to be your career path?
I started my college career by pursuing an art degree in painting and drawing. At the time, interior design wasn’t as common to study. All those HGTV shows were just ramping up and it was gaining momentum. As a result, schools began to pay more attention to design and mine had launched a new program. Design became available to me and I jumped on the opportunity to take a class, so my career branched from there.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
An FBI or Secret Service Agent, for sure. I am a natural researcher, investigator, and problem solver. I would be really good at solving crimes.
What is your favorite NYC restaurant?
Estiatorio Milo’s has the best seafood and atmosphere.
What is your favorite piece of furniture in your home?
I have a mid-century modern rocking chair that I rocked both my kids in. It’s a really good-looking chair but also very sentimental to me.
What is #1 on your bucket list?
I want to speak 3 languages. I know a little Italian and a little French, but I’d love to be able to speak both as fluently as my English.
If you could time travel to any year, what year would you choose?
I’d love to see New York in the 60’s and 70’s to experience the art scene of that era during its emergence – to be a fly on the wall for the original releases of the classic design and artwork that we hold on a pedestal to this day.
What is a design trend you wish would end?
I’d like to see the futuristic aerodynamic aesthetic fade out. Many times it feels over-designed and a little too trendy to be timeless.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 1 item would you bring with you?
A scented candle with an amber, woody scent. But I guess I would need a way to light it.
If you could add any luxury amenity to your home, what would it be?
A custom matte plaster wall finish. I live in a prewar building and the original plaster walls have been finished over. The architecture still speaks to the prewar bones, but the wall finish is a flat paint. For me, it would be about restoring to its original character.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a designer?
Find a mentor or get into an internship program. Schooling is great for learning technical skills, but real-world experience is where you’ll learn a lot about job sites, client management, and becoming a jack of all trades.