Kassin Adelman : An Interview

Kassin Adelman runs IDF Studio. An interior design firm in the San Francisco Bay area. Her style is timeless and beautiful. She uses creativity with her team that takes design to a new level for interiors. Her rooms tell a story and each one is unique. 

Kassin Adelman Founder + CEO of IDF

Kassin Adelman Founder + CEO of IDF

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m the Founder + CEO of a boutique interior design firm in San Francisco. I connect people in need of great design for their home or office, with one of our talented lead designers. I also run, skip, and pole vault my way around the process of interior design, so that our clients can get what they need both smarter and faster. 

Who are some of your biggest influencers when designing?
It’s a definite mix – some of the big names for sure, like Kelly Wearstler and Jamie Drake, but also Bay Area locals like Erin Martin and Rapt Studio. All of our designers are big blog and Pinterest fiends; it’s like a nonstop design candy store at your fingertips. 

Why do you love design? What does design solve?
I love design because it helps people realize the best version of themselves and their environment. It makes every day better.

Airbnb HQ - Interior IDF Studio

Airbnb HQ - Interior IDF Studio

What was one of your favorite projects to work on?
Our senior designer Jaclyn Christensen’s residential project in Hillsborough has been one of my recent favorites. The home is nestled on a gorgeous estate that used to belong to the Lilienthal family of Levi Strauss, and is now owned by a fun-loving family who loves to entertain. It’s got this alluring, peaceful quality with great architectural bones in a serene setting, offset by a truly bright and glamorous interior. 

How did IDF studio get started?
I started brainstorming the business with my colleague, Sara Cosgrove, who is now a senior designer here at IDF Studio. We wanted to build an ideal firm, one that gave clients more one-on-one time with their designer and offered employees a welcoming, collaborative space. I kicked things off out of my studio apartment seven years ago, bootstrapped the business project-by-project, and brought Sara on as soon as I could afford her! Now we’re a team of nine, churning out both residential and commercial projects throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Noe Valley - Interior IDF Studio

What were some design challenges on the AirBnB HQ project?
Not surprisingly, some of the biggest challenges were the functional requirements! Airbnb really has their act together with regards to wanting their conference rooms in particular, to be best-in-class with regards to audio-visual performance. This meant that not only did we have some over-the-top designs to put together, but all had to be perfect from an acoustic, videoconferencing, and lighting standpoint. These details were effectively camouflaged throughout each space, so that you’d never know it by looking at it. 

What are some of the challenges of running a small business?
All the running! It’s true – trying to get it all done in a day’s work takes constant commitment and stamina. However my latest challenge was committing to a big hire, our new COO. It’s hard to veer off the beaten path when there are few, if any exemplary interior design business models to follow (or at least ones to which I have access). You just have to trust the numbers and your gut, and focus on the long-game. 
 

Noe Valley - Interior IDF Studio


Are there any design ideas that you gravitate more towards?
Yes – in SF you’ve got to be hyper-sensitive to space, so anything multi-functional is always a sure win. We’re also highly attracted to texture and light, things that create a mood, from subtle warmth to vibrant energy. We’re not purists here – we like designing for real people and enjoy finding inspiration in our clients, in their favorite things and mementos.

Noe Valley - Interior IDF Studio

What does your office look like in terms of where you design and come up with your ideas?
We do a lot of initial brainstorming at our desks – design teams have a lot of nearby work space to spread out, play with materials, share computer imagery, etc. We also have a great materials library in the back of our office, so we can pull samples, paint swatches, etc. and prepare client presentations. It’s light and bright, with a definite focus on the tactile and the visual – beautiful displays coupled with design boards we can pull up on large, wall-mounted TV monitors nearby. 



 

Noe Valley - Interior IDF Studio

Where do you see interior design going?
Like everything else, interior design is getting more iterative, more responsive. Some clients still want a soup-to-nuts, designer-goes-away-to-her-office-to-create-and-comes-back-with-a-brilliant-idea project, but most want more bite-sized pieces where they can enjoy greater involvement and help steer the project’s evolution. 

 

Fun Questions

If you were stranded in the woods what 5 items would you have with you?
Oh, my husband loves these shows – I better answer this well. Pot to boil water, fire-starter, and giant knife – plus allergy medicine and a pocket-sized, well-laminated pic of my family.
 
If you could build and design a space anywhere in the universe where would it be?
Either right at home in Mill Valley, a ranch house in Palm Springs, or a beach bungalow at the nearest tropical island.

If you could meet any famous designer and have a tea party with them where would you go? Who would you meet?
Hands-down, Emily Henderson. She would show me all her favorite shopping spots, take me on a home tour of her favorite projects, and tell me all her secrets about life, parenting, and a thriving 21st-century design business. 

If you could have a super power what would it be?
To fly!!!! And to sleep 10 hours a night.

What is your favorite typeface?
Proxima Nova.