Shanon, in D.C.

A great orator once said that “longevity has its place”, and I kept hearing his voice and that phrase in my head as my interview progressed with Washington, DC interior designer, SHANON MUNN.

  • Shanon knew that she wanted to be an interior designer at the age of 12…longevity.
  • Shanon started dating her husband at age 14…longevity.
  • Shanon re-purposed an antique kitchen island into a chic changing table for her daughter, Silvy that could be used in another room once her daughter was older…longevity.
  • Shanon always designs with an undercurrent of sustainability…longevity.

“Smart design” has been Shanon’s trademark since she opened her full-service design firm, Ambi Design Studios in 2004. “Ambi” is short for Ambient which hints at her motto “enlightenment in design”. Shanon believes that quality should never be sacrificed for principle, so she prefers to source earth-friendly woods, marble, natural fiber textiles and low VOC paints to create luxuriously chic and sustainable living spaces for longevity.

Growing up in the Midwest, Shanon received a full scholarship to the Colorado Institute of Art where she developed a passion for sophisticated comfort emphasizing her love for architecture and her dedication to the environment. Upon moving to the East coast, Shanon had the opportunity to work for leading Washington interior designer Victor Shargai. Since opening her own design firm, Shanon’s diverse projects have been featured in Home and Design, Southern Living, Washingtonian, and the Washington Post. And Shanon was recently selected by the Washington, DC Design Center as “One to Watch” in interior design.

Needless to say, I was so impressed with Shanon because she get its, and I believe that she is a design visionary, and I hope that her wish that someday sustainable design will not just be a trend, but a way of life, becomes a reality. It was such an honor getting to know the charming Shanon that I know you will enjoy meeting her too.

Do you have a signature style?
I work very hard to try to reflect my client’s personal style in the absolute best possible way. So no, I pride myself that each of my projects is unique.

Your background includes commercial and hospitality design, does that experience inform your approach to residential design in any way?
What struck me was that the vendor reps would really promote the eco-friendliness of their products, when I went into residential design this aspect of the products was never heard of. So, when I started out on my own in 2004 and found myself working for two pregnant women at the same time, I remembered that air quality was something that the commercial paint reps really touted. That’s when I started looking into the environmental aspects of most of the products that I specify (paint, fabric, furniture, surfaces, etc). This was way before the current green movement, so it was really hard to find information a lot of the time.

Shanon, what inspires your creativity?
I tend to work better under pressure and I find inspiration in lots of places-a children’s book from my daughter’s collection, art and sculpture, nature, and movies. I don’t really have one muse.

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with in design?
Hmmm… although she is not really a designer, I would have to say Oprah. Everything she touches turns to gold.

What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your own business?
The constant office work, accounting, and taxes. I honestly don’t know how an absolutely true one-person office can possibly exist because you need to wear so many hats. I broke down and hired an assistant earlier this year. I should have done it years ago! They never tell you in design school or on those silly HGTV shows that the truth of working in design is that you will be doing 10% creative work and 90% office or administrative work. You need to be really organized and efficient to do it well.

Which philanthropic causes do you support and why?
We support the Food Bank of Central Virginia. As a mother, it breaks my heart to think of children going to bed hungry. We are also members of the National Zoo because who doesn’t love animals? And we are members of the Kennedy Center because you can have a night on the town while supporting the arts.

Who are your style icons?
Jean-Michel Frank was a design genius. Ralph Lauren gets it right in fashion and in furniture.

What is the best gift you have ever received?
My children.

Describe your idea of perfect happiness.
OK, besides having a relaxing outing with my family and night on the town with my husband, I have a happy dream: this is a Utopian vision that some day I will have a perfectly organized life and that all the pens and pencils in my cup holder will be matching and coordinated. In reality, my cup holder is like my life, crazy–with mismatched pencils and pens with chewed caps (remember, I’m a mom!)

Name one place you would like to see before you die.
The Taj Mahal–the real one, not the one in Atlantic City!

Name a song that takes you some place special whenever you hear it.
Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy”

One word…
Strive (This is a great word for all areas of life.)

What is your advice for young women?
Choose your trade because you are passionate about it–NOT because you think you are in for fame or fortune.

Asked to write your memoirs, what would the title be?
Well, I have a 7-month old son who is currently teething, so my current memoirs would be called “Dreaming of Sleep”. Let’s hope it gets more interesting…

Interviewed October 2010 by Yolanda, editor Zavvi Rodaine.com
© Zavvi Rodaine.com 2010. No part of this interview may be used or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the Editor of Zavvi Rodaine.com.
Photos:Angie Seckinger

Design, Life + Style 1 Comment

One Response to “Shanon, in D.C.

  1. 1
    Nihal B says:
    January 18, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Dear Shanon…… This interview is so inspirational…! I got to know many things about you and how much you strive to do what you like to do best ! Your ideas and style are so unique in reflecting your clients taste…You have a lot to go for….You are a wonderful designer…I will definitely refer my clients to you…Cheers and Happy New Year to you and your lovely family..
    Warm wishes,