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Best Interior Designers: Exclusive Interview with Esteban Lopez

He is one of the best Interior Designers you can find on the West Coast. Apart from being an outstanding professional, Esteban Lopez is a wonderful person. In this interview, check his perspective about interior designing and how he managed to reach the top!


You have studied landscape architecture and fine arts, and you started your career in some of the best New York’s landscape and design firms. How was working in a different area from the one you are working now?

Landscape design and interior design are very related in the art of beautification both follow similar rules of ensuring safety, both public and private. Landscape design projects once complete need to be properly cared for in order to maintain the health and longevity of the project. The furnishings and the and hard materials need to be maintained The plant life needs constant care and or rotation in order to achieve the end design The project is more sensitive to seasonal changes, and the results can vary season to season Interior design has a faster pace and the end design is usually realized with little variation unless a textile has noticeable color variances. Though some hard goods and soft goods have varying lead-times the environment can be carefully controlled. Residential projects are easier to control because there is only one end-user Commercial projects are harder to control because there are more than one end-user and the maintenance levels tend to be high, and there is the variable of having a properly trained maintenance staff that understands the care of the products used in the design.


Why and when did you decided that landscaping was not the path you wanted to follow in your life? Was it something natural or were you moved by that emerging passion for interiors?

My fist passions were Horticulture & Botany (The care / study of plants).  Interior design was always a passion of mine.  During the time that I started my career in landscape architecture and design and traveling to very glamorous homes I was exposed to high-end interiors which demonstrated to me that I was missing something in my portfolio.

I knew at an early age that I had an interest in interior design, but it took a back seat because I was not sure if it was a viable career path for me.  Once I decided to return to school to study interior design and understanding that there were many similarities, the decision was clear that interior design was for me.  The design gratification was more immediate and there was no need for years of care to realize my designs.  Now with the advent of 3D modeling and virtual design software; the design process is even more immediate and easier to communicate to clients.

Back in 2003 you and your partner, James Niebling, moved to San Diego after you have created Implements Design Group. Why did you decide to leave New York?

We left NYC because we visited San Diego and noticed all the new buildings being built at the time of the 2003 real estate boom.  The better weather and mild climate was very appealing to us and we both desired a change of pace and scenery, and we knew that we wanted to relocate to a city that is close to the ocean.

Did San Diego answered to your expectations? Did you felt that San Diego had potential in what concerns to this particular area of business?

San Diego did meet our expectations in many ways; the idea of starting a new business in an emerging market was very exciting to us.  We met many entrepreneurs that relocated from larger cities to San Diego seeking new business adventures and change, and felt that we could grow all together and benefit from each other.

What is the best place to work interior design: West Coast or East Coast?  Are there any relevant differences between styles in these two regions?

This is an excellent question!  I feel that both places offer pros and cons; both with different challenges.  I am from NYC and though working there can offer more talented trades people to choose from and resources, there is also much more competition from designers and firms that offer similar design aesthetics.  San Diego is a bit more relaxed and the resources as they pertain to trades people and modern design are more limited, which can quickly set you apart from designers and firms that are offering a more traditional approach to design.

Tell us more about The Art and Design District you co-founded in Little Italy.

The Art & Design District in Little Italy (San Diego) was originally conceived on Kettner Boulevard where we and a few other business owner united to create a new area within Little Italy, because the area that was being defined as Little Italy was viewed by the public and media as a four block long area on India Street one block east of Kettner Boulevard.  So we differentiated ourselves by calling ourselves KADD (Kettner Art & Design District) and hired a PR company (J Public Relations) to spread the word.  We quickly grew in to a large community and Little Italy started asking to be included with our community.  We also started a monthly event call “Kettner Nights” which has evolved through all of Little Italy and is still a very popular evening event in the community.  We are very proud to have been part of the few founding members to develop this area and popular public event.


Esteban Lopez with his partner, James Niebling. Photo by Jeff Corrigan

After moving to San Diego, your company Esteban Interiors never met defeat: first you joined forces with James in Arthur Kay, inc., opened a showroom and then you relocated your design showroom and gallery to La Jolla’s Design District. What else can we expect from you and from Esteban Interiors in the future?

I will start off by saying that our journey was not as easy as it appears…  We have met several challenges and feel very fortunate to have been embraced by San Diego.  We are not sure what the future holds for us but we do have aspirations of eventually opening a new design studio in Los Angeles.  We find LA very alluring and we feel there is a great deal of opportunity for a boutique design firm that offers personalized service; we like to engage our clients to make them feel like all their personal needs are being exceeded.

Talking in a more personal perspective, tell us: what is your biggest inspiration in what concerns to design?

My biggest inspiration is combining old with new for an eclectic and unconventional design approach.  We like creating rooms that have visual tension where the viewer can get lost and feel like there is a surprise and something new to discover every time they enter the space.

What does inspires you in your both daily and professional life?

We are inspired by our clients and the challenges that we are faced with; we enjoy solving problems and showing clients what we can do with a set of ideas they give us to work from.  I am also inspired by natural elements and color pallets.  We feel a home should be relaxing and carefree.

 If you were given the challenge to choose the best project you have ever made, which one would you select?

We are close to completing a large complete renovation for a client from NYC that charged us with creating a peaceful environment for their property in Rancho Santa Fe.  Everything was reimagined, from the roof, to the windows and doors, the gardens, and obviously the lighting and interior finishes and furnishings.  We hope to have this project published in national and international publications soon.


And if you were given the same challenge, but this time you had to choose the most beautiful piece you have ever applied in your projects, what would you select?

Obviously we have a collaborative relationship with Demorais International now (Boca Do Lobo, Brabbu, Koket, and Delightfull), so our main focus is to introduce these lines and products to clients and the architecture and design communities on the West Coast.  We feel these lines complement our design style very well.  When you walk into our design studio in La Jolla, you will see a beautiful vignette of Demorais furnishings and lighting.

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