My strongest skills were math and art which led me to architecture courses and my first job at the large architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). During working there I realized that while I love the problem solving, architecture as a discipline and working in three dimensions, preferred to work at a smaller human scale so I went to study design in Milan.
Virginia Italia Harper… a name that constantly reminds me about Italy. A talented designer and hardworking professional. I had the pleasure to meet her and see her passion for industrial design. She has a multi-disciplinary approach that allows her to be a top-notch not only while designing products, but also in retail interior design projects. With her perfect American smile, she will let you know from the beginning what she wants from you and how she expects it. No wobbling, no wondering, no hesitation; rather pure confidence and experience.
No wonder: strong theoretical background and great experience stay by her and fuel her personality and professional attitude.
She currently holds a bachelor, master and LEED AP degrees. She graduated with honors from the University of Michigan, and pursued a Master in Italy, Europe, at Domus Academy. Virginia started her working experience after graduating university, at SOM, and continued in Italy for the next 4 years after getting her masters. It involved designing products, furniture and installations for Illy, Nintendo, Alfi, and Cassina.
After returning to New York she worked in retail, hospitality and furniture design at Peter Marino Architects and then at Rockwell Group for many influential brands and corporations including Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, W Hotel, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Rockrose, and Starbucks. This experience gave Virginia a strong skill set, honed her aesthetic while also giving her expertise in brand strategy and positioning.
Virginia recently started her own design consultancy in Manhattan, focusing on retail and hospitality projects for international brands. She recently completed a local retail project for Pirelli Tire, is overseeing a design boutique renovation at Cipriani Wall Street and is involved in a number of restaurant renovation projects. She provides retail and event concepts for beauty brands such as Fresh, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone, and La Mer. Travel back to Italy is frequent because of residential projects she is currently following in Treviso. She often consults with architectural firms providing 3D computer models and renderings for a variety of high end projects.
She is still continuing her education through seminars and classes that she often takes. Virginia is also an adjunct professor in Interior Design and Industrial Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
I take classes in new developments in 3d modeling and manufacturing as well as small business management classes. I also teach which is the best form of education. I learn more teaching design than I would from taking classes about it.
When I`ve asked her about a favourite project, to my surprise she mentioned:
I’m currently developing a line of furniture using reclaimed telephone poles which is fun because it is creative, sustainable and I get to follow it from concept to fabrication.
This shows her involvement and commitment for any project that she takes. With a portfolio of big names, choosing the current one as favorite takes a lot of determination and ambition: you already acknowledge a success before having it. Her vision on design constantly changes: functionality -beauty, uniqueness with an approach from outside the box. Approach that usually delivers the most interesting projects!
Pirelli project NYC
All clients are important. But even if you try not to make distinctions, when you hear about titans like Pirelli you cannot contain your thrill. Virginia Harper successfully overseen the design of their NYC showroom and offices. A great project, challenging and fulfilling in the same time. Bellow are a few pictures that will spoil your eyes. The showroom was also featured in the Interior Design Magazine.
Ambitious people always have high expectations from the future. Virginia is not an exception from the rule; asked how she sees herself in the next five years she replied:
I hope in 5 years I will have a team working with me on a million awesome projects, ranging from furniture and product design, exhibit design, a couple boutique hotels and a bunch of stores for a variety of fashion and beauty brands. I hope I will be involved in projects that also make the world a better place– like schools in underprivileged areas.
Virginia Italia is one of the few designers that I met so far, who invest their time in helping others. I attended one of her charity parties last year. Her words describe her involvement better:
Every year I throw an event to raise enough money to fund a school in Niger for the year. The organization, founded by my cousins is www.educatetomorrow.org and I hope to see you all there December 8th!
It`s always inspiring to meet talented people. Their vibes and dreams give you impulses to improve your life as well… to aim high and pursue your dreams! If you want to learn more about Virginia Italia Harper, you can visit her website or connect on LinkedIn.