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The Lucinda Look
Melissa Jacobs | Photo: Shannon O’Hara, Peter Lik and Lucinda Loya | January 22, 2013
Houston’s busiest society designer has a chic new office, a showhouse in the works and a book on the horizon.
Married to the CEO of CHOICE! Energy, Lucinda Loya has a chalked social calendar, is active on multiple charity boards and runs a recently expanded interior design practice, Lucinda Loya Interiors (lucindaloyainteriors.com). This mother of two girls is, well, busy.
So her rooms do most of the talking. Step into any one of the LLI-designed New York City high-rises, River Oaks mansions or West University remodels in Houston, and the reading is at once like the woman—complex, exuberant, grounded.
Her clients range from A-list Hollywood stars to corporate executives. “I’ll go anywhere for a client who wants to take a creative journey. I’m not the typical designer. What links my clients is a desire for something unique or edgy,” says Loya. “What I hear most often is just to put the ‘Lucinda spin’ on it.”
A style clearly evident in her new Houston Design Center showroom where at first glance, the 14-foot sofa looks like it’s covered in wolf fur. A step closer and a brush of the hand reveals it’s rather a silky smooth imprint. After practicing from home since 1994, she hopes that the showroom/office, which she moved into this past fall, will put to rest any ideas people might have that she’s not serious about her work. She’s also expanded her team to include four design assistants. The showroom is small, but it’s packed with personality—hues of pink emanate from a rose-patterned rug; a bubblegum-pink poodle sculpture perches on the shelf; and a shell-cast chandelier rests on the floor next to a black-painted Venetian twin bed, adorned with saints.
Lucinda Loya rooms demand a second look, no doubt about it. They sport a pared-down Kelly Wearstler glam, with Wearstler’s verve of pitting high-end with budget-conscious collections and tone-on-tone palettes layered with attention-grabbing art. Marilyn Minter, Venessa Beecroft and Alex Guofeng Cao are a few favorite artists making regular appearances on her walls. “If everybody’s doing something, I’m not interested,” says Loya.
Born to a teenage mother, Loya is a Texan by way of Indiana whose humble beginnings and working class roots inform her tendency for an “all-in” headfirst dive into everything. A multitasking queen, even now she moves from gala planning to choosing a chair finish for a client to describing her challenging childhood.
“I knew in my mind, my life would be different,” says Loya. “When I run across complainers or people who act like victims, I run the other way.”
Indeed, design seemed to be the direction of her life from an early age. When baby-sitting even as a 10-year-old, she would clean and re-arrange the furniture. And her “clients” would usually keep things just the way she placed them. Then there was the gold button and hot-pink bias tape purse, a cross-body bag hand-sewn with her great-grandmother’s fabric remnants.
“I was always creative but didn’t know how to use it. I had designed jewelry and was a stylist but was working full time in marketing to support myself when a friend saw my apartment and then asked me to do their interiors,” says Loya. “I had business cards the next day. I knew I finally found a career I could sink my teeth into and blend into my life.”
Initially as a self-taught designer she was inspired by everyone. Her formal training didn’t begin until she came into a construction project and realized she wanted and needed more knowledge. She enrolled in The Art Institute of Houston and “sat on the edge of her chair” absorbing every class. Fashion and detail still collide, but gracefully now and into a subtle symphony. “I want my rooms to reflect the way we live today,” says the designer. “They are eclectic but more edited, refined with a hint of drama and always functional with feel of a boutique hotel.”
It’s this “warm factor,” or “infusion of passion” Loya dubs as the key notes she strives to hit every time. “It’s a state of mind. You can feel it, smell it when you walk through a room or a home,” says Loya. “It could be blended artifacts in a steel home of white-on-white but there’s always something unique about a room or element to showcase.”
After 16 years in the business and her first showroom/office, she has a showcase home in construction, a possible book on the radar and is researching the feasibility of a custom product line. “Because of the way I was raised, I always keep my ears open to opportunity,” says Loya. “It feels good to be taken seriously as a designer but I don’t want to get distracted. My family and business come first.” Whether it’s a little gold button or a coveted antique, Loya believes it’s the quality and the details which take every project, in life and work, to new levels.
“Everything matters,” she syas. “With the right attitude you can conquer the world.”