Marie Bowman is an interior designer, Mom, and entrepreneur, working with clients to create stunning spaces. We caught up with Marie at her new office in the Rosemary District as she explained her lifelong connection to design, and how living in Sarasota has inspired her best projects.
Where are you from?
I’ve been here in Sarasota since I was 6! My dad took a job with a contractor, and I’ve grown up on job sites. Growing up was awesome, this place is paradise. But it took me a long time to appreciate it- it took me moving away and coming back to realize it.
How did you start in interior design?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go into a creative field, though. I grew up around construction job sites, so that’s always been in the back of my mind. When I moved back to Sarasota, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I found myself working in a construction office, and then I was introduced to kitchen and bath interiors with no formal schooling. And then I realized I wanted more experience in spacial construction. So at 26 I went to Ringling for Interior Design. That was a really tough experience- I wanted to quit sometimes during those midterms and finals. But it proved to me what I was capable of and what I could handle.
What inspires your designs?
Well each project is driven by the client’s vision. I want them to come out and tell me what they want so that I can bring it to life for them. Every client and every day is so different from the next. Right now I mainly handle high-end residential clients. We hold an interview process with each client to really find out what they want and what their lifestyle is like so that we can pair them up with the perfect concept. When you really get to know the client they bring their own personality to the project, so the final is this beautiful blend between their vision and the education and skills I bring to them.
How does your personal style differ from the work you do for your clients?
I am a minimalist! I love clean lines. I love pure white, and bringing out the simplicity of the space. Many of my clients aren’t like that, so I have to put that away to interpret their aesthetics to bring their vision to its best reality.
What design problems does your business strive to solve?
I strive to bring better design to interiors. Especially in renovation you see this weirdness, like weird angles and dust collectors. Things that don’t make sense. I always find a reason for each decision I make in my design. When you study the errors of design in the 80s and 90s, you see they go a bit overboard and offer up some things that aren’t really necessary. I strive to enhance my client’s lifestyle through the space they live in- not clutter it up.
What are some of your memorable client projects?
That’s so hard! This whole journey I’ve been on since I’ve graduated has led me to an experience that’s something to build on. Everything I’ve done I’ve learned from and become better from. The most memorable ones I have are the ones I’m working on now, and that’s because I completely immerse myself in those projects. When the work day is over it’s not like I leave my work in the office. I take it home with me and I look at it and think about it. I live my work day to night.
Can you talk about some of those clients?
I’ve been lucky with the clients that I’ve been able to work with. Many of them have these beautiful homes with these beautiful, amazing views. Some live out on Longboat Key or Siesta, and being able to stop and enjoy it really makes me appreciate the fact that I’m able to do such beautiful work for beautiful spaces.
How did you find yourself in the high-end residential niche?
My mentors were able to provide those experiences for me. So transitioning into it post-college was natural. I’ve been lucky to work with some really talented businesses in town, too. This city has so much talent, I feel lucky to be able to work almost daily with them.
What are some of your core beliefs behind your work philosophy?
It’s not about pushing the client to a certain aesthetic- it’s about listening to them, extracting their vision and executing it. It isn’t my project, it’s theirs. I always look for a purpose in every solution, as well. That always elevates the design to a higher level. Creating seamless spaces is one of the bigger parts. We really play up the natural beauty around our city and bring that inside: lots of natural light, bright light colors. I also strive for purpose behind design. It’s a big part of my job to play up the client’s lifestyle and create a space that enhances it.
How did you end up in the Rosemary District?
I was working out of my home, so when the opportunity rose for me to have a small office I was excited. Being able to work in a community with like-minded people really helps the overall creative process, as well. I’m close to Downtown, too, which always sends good energy my way.
How does that energy affect your work?
I have a special place in my heart for the downtown environment and its buildings. I love seeing how everything is growing and changing, I get to tap into that hustle and bustle energy. It fuels my enthusiasm for what I do! There are some younger people moving to the area now, too, which is something I missed growing up. They’re the movers and shakers, and I love getting to be around that now.
What is your hope for the future of the Rosemary District?
I hope that other design professionals continue to put up great projects! I want our skyline to be beautiful. And I think that we have a lot of great local talent that can help mold it and grow it into what it can be. I’m very happy to get to have an office here as well as raise my growing family here. I’m expecting another addition pretty soon.
How does your interior design business fit into that vision for the future?
I’d like to take on projects that hold the same values and principles that I do. I want to educate clients and show them successful projects that incorporate and embrace the beauty of the local area. The longer I stay, too, I feel more control in how the designs of the city change. I love being a part of this city. I hope that we’re able to grow into the big little city that it has the potential to be.