Sometimes the design industry finds us first. Dani Arps, a 2017 Stars of Design; Stars on the Rise award recipient, started her career the way most hope for, with “a happy accident” and continues to shine with the latest Biaki New York x Dani Arps collaboration.
This 32-year-old designer is redefining the way start-ups design their spaces and helps young tech companies grow up and away from “tacky”. Danielle “Dani” Arps has earned a name for herself by proving that a fun interior doesn’t need to look like Chuck E. Cheese.
Before studying at Pratt Institute, where she earned a Masters of Science in Interior Design, she envisioned a slightly different artistic course. Dani went to undergrad for art and music and was planning to go to Berkeley College for bass until her dad shared some fatherly wisdom that rerouted her creative path.
“After graduating with an arts degree, my dad was like ‘what do you want to do.’ So after much thought I decided Pratt. Interior Design is art, it is essentially art that you live in and I wanted to help create that,” Dani said.
Dani’s industrial-chic design style and analytical approach that places function at the forefront, was shaped by her Pratt studies. “I love natural materials, but not just their rustic point of views. I like materials to look as they are – metal to look like metal, wood to look like wood. I love the idea of choosing certain pieces intentionally,” Dani added.
Every two years, the DDB presents the ‘Stars of Design Awards,’ that bestow one of the highest honors in the industry to innovators in various categories such as Art, Interior Design, Lifetime Achievement, Photography, etc. Dani was both humbled and honored to receive her Stars on the Rise award this fall, and was nominated based on her various high-profile start-up space designs.
The Stars on the Rise award honors up-and-coming interior designers breaking boundaries and raising ceilings. Big app names like Venmo, Gilt and SeatGeek are just a few on the long list of Dani’s projects, but her ‘start’ came through an unlikely source for design work.
You know it, you surf it, you may have even gotten a freelance gig from it yourself; Craigslist. While working under Tony Chi in hospitality design, Dani embarked on freelance opportunities with the start-ups, General Assembly and Taykey. After these projects, designers’ favorite marketing tool, word-of-mouth, propelled her forward to her other projects.
Dani’s skills are not limited to start-ups, or interior design spaces for that matter. Last spring, Dani was introduced to Biaki New York’s Designer Inspired Door Initiative, through a DDB word-of-mouth connect. This initiative invited a number of young designers to propose their ideal door for Biaki. A launch party was held where the renderings were displayed in Biaki’s showroom and judged by designers, Eric Hilton and Matthew Patrick Smyth, Luxe Homes Editor Shannon Sharpe, and the former Go Design Go editor, Caitlin St. John.
The renderings were too good, so the judges had to choose two great designers, naming Dani Arps and Lucy Harris as the winners. A picture is worth a thousand words, and one image that kicked off the New Year, swung open Dani’s door inspiration.
“I have such inspirational images and spaces that I always refer to to start a project, but on last New Years Eve I found these beautiful dilapidated shutters in Havana, Cuba,” said Dani. “I thought how do I modernize these shutters while combining the high-end and beautiful Biaki brand?”
The Cuban shutters were reimagined using brass inserts to recreate the pattern along with white oak. This Wednesday, Biaki will officially launch the Biaki x Dani Arps door with two finishes, one more industrial and faded, and the other side a rich walnut.
On Wednesday, November 15 from 5:30-7:30, join Biaki in DDB Suite 1530 for cocktails, light bites and a first look at Dani’s winning door.