This interview appeared in Advertising Concepts, Inc. Richmond, VA Jan/Feb 2008 publications of Chesterfield Living, West Ends Best, Hanover Lifestyles, and Heritage Rivers. My articles made their first appearance as well- Beautiful Bathrooms and The Winter Garden.
“I read books and magazines on design and gardening like some people read novels,” says Vicki O’Neal. She owns the Richmond-based interior and landscape design firm, FORM & FUNCTION, and joins ACI publications as our consulting Home and Garden Editor. In this issue, she discusses the key to beautiful bathrooms, and, in issues to come, she’ll be sharing her expertise on a host of other topics.
In a recent interview, we asked Vicki to tell us a little more about herself, her family, and her career…
ACI: I understand you’re a native of Georgia. Vicki: Yes, as a young girl I grew up in Athens, but my family moved to the big city (Atlanta) when I was 12.
ACI: So, we can assume you’re a “DAWG”? (supporter of University of Georgia Bulldogs). Vicki: Well, actually no. I left Georgia to become a Gator. After earning a Bachelor of Design from the UNiveristy of Florida, I returned to the Atlanta area where I practiced commercial interior design prior to moving to Richmond. My husband is the “DAWG” in the family, which makes for a fun rivalry.
ACI: So you’ve been living and working in the Richmond area for some time. Vicki: Yes, as newlyweds, my husband and I moved to Richmond, where I continued to practice interior design. We have two children, both native Richmonders, and both recent graduates of William and Mary. Our extended families are primarily still in Georgia.
ACI: How did you get into landscape design? Vicki: My lifelong interest has been gardening, ecology, and nature. As the principles of design are universal, around four years ago I decided to merge these interest into my design practice and offer landscape design as well as interior design. I have since become a Master Gardener, a VA crtified Landscape Designer and Horticulturalist in addition to my interior design credentials (ASID and VA Certified Interior Designer- CID).
ACI: So, obviously, the environment and gardening are very important to you. Do you do a lot of gardening? Vicki: I have personally grown many types of gardens over the years including a Japanese style garden, unique and rare ornamentals, perennials, vegetable gardens grown from seeds, herb gardens- the list continues. I currently grow landscape ornamentals, bonsai, orchids, and house plants. Some of the house plants are enormous as I have had them since college. Those plants are like family members- we even have home videos of them as babies!
ACI: How have your travels impacted your career as a designer? Vicki: Travel and cultural exposure have enriched my appreciation and understanding of design as an artistic, creative, and functional expression. Itineraries are planned with a purpose to visit noteworthy or historic sites by influential artists, architects, designers, etc. I seek to integrate all of these experiences into my work. One example of this was a visit to the “Arts and Craft” Gamble home in Pasadena, California, design by Greene and Greene Architects in the early 1900s. This directly impacted my work on an addition and renovation of an Arts and Craft style home in Bon Air. This style is highly respected, and is currently a leader in the high-end residential market in Richmond.
ACI: So, would you say this is your style of choice currently? Vicki: I purposely adhere to no particular style, but rather let the individual client and project criteria guide the way along the design process. My company name “FORM & FUNCTION,” is a direct reflection of this philosophy. By applying all of my experiences and design knowledge to each project, I create a unique and fitting solution specifically designed for each client.
ACI: Can you give our readers some insight on what you will be doing in coming issues of our magazine? Vicki: I plan to share my passion, knowledge, and ideas about design on specific topics including celebrating spring in the garden, kitchens, color and materials, interior and exterior lighting, garden design and outdoor rooms, work environments, home theater… the possibilities are endless! Readers may request specific topics as well.
ACI: Where will you where will you start? Vicki: It’s winter now, so I choose to start inside with an article about bathrooms because it’s one of my favorite areas to design. It’s the most personal and intimate of spaces. Our time spent there, especially in preparation for our day, should be a most nurturing and pleasant experience.
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