We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Carolla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
I think most folks hear “interior designer” and think my job is hitting the local Homegoods to pick out pillows. Much respect to Homegoods, but this sounds like the least fun career ever.
The reality is that my job is mostly math and knowledge of construction materials and trades – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Most of my clients, residential and hospitality alike, already have impeccable taste, so they leverage me for unique and tailored solutions to tough design problems. I lovingly call my aesthetic “mid-century maritime chic” as it’s influenced by a childhood spent in my grandfather’s fish market on the LA harbor, but I have working knowledge across a range of styles to bring my creative clients’ visions to life.
I’m an expert on renovating older spaces with respect to their history and eccentricities, what materials perform best under different scenarios, how to lay out restaurants and hospitality spaces that are code-compliant and inclusive for customers and guests, and how to translate all our creative ideas into a workable plan for contractors and tradespeople. I spend most of my time on dusty job-sites or behind the screen drafting 3D models and plans with my shop dog and design assistant, Wren.
There are amazingly talented designers with encyclopedic knowledge of textiles and sewing who devote their entire practice to pillows. And then there’s me who is usually too covered in sawdust to get near anything that fancy. That’s the wonderful thing about this industry: we all have our specialties and get to work together to create inspired and meaningful spaces.
What should our readers know about your business?
Fish & Co is an interior design studio that also holds a small real estate portfolio specializing in homes that are likely candidates for tear down. We take them in, keep them out of landfills, use a little imagination to restore and rethink them, and then rent them out to really cool people who love them.
Whether it’s for our clients or our own projects, Fish & Co specializes in creating meaningful spaces where people feel seen and included. How folks experience the world in our spaces is more important to us than how many magazines they end up in. Whether we’re designing for a family home, a busy restaurant, or a retail shop, every detail is centered around people (and dogs!), and aimed at helping them tell their stories and live authentically through good design.
We’re also working to specialize in low waste design and building. America produces over 500 million tons of construction and demolition debris annually, and we very much see it as our responsibility to creatively tackle this problem on every project. The surprise in all of this is how fun the challenge has been! Whether we’re trying to keep perfectly good materials out of landfills, sourcing remnants headed for the dump, reusing extra materials in creative ways, or building to a smaller footprint, it’s a lot of teamwork, a little getting weird, and a whole lot of laughs along the way. I’m currently writing this at my desk next to a salvaged vintage pink toilet that will sit here until someone reads this article and says, “THAT’S the interior designer for me!” Me and Pink Toilet are here waiting, y’all.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A lot of my favorite things to do in the area are also things that inspire my work! I rarely let visitors leave without a walk on the beach at low tide, a little hike through the fragrant coastal scrub sage, a surf lesson (if they’ll indulge me!), a drive around town to see all the coolest architecture and vintage stores, and a food tour to showcase all the beauty and variety that exists in the Mexican dishes we have access to here. The latter fuels my work in a more literal way 🙂
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The people with whom you surround yourself are everything! I’m lucky enough to have a really diverse circle of inspiring people in my life who are my biggest cheerleaders. Prior to starting my business, I had given up on my dream of becoming a designer a few times in my life; always because I lacked the confidence to know that I could make a sustainable career out of it.
After a 15 year corporate career, I found myself at another crossroad. The difference this time was that I was there with an army of people who believed in me and refused to let me give up on my dream. Each person played such an important role in the fabric of my story, and I couldn’t imagine where I’d be without their support. The beautiful thing is that that kind of love makes you want to pay it forward and creates a ripple effect of goodness that never ends.