Two beautifully shaped lamps, made of glass bulbs with an industry-look and metallic rods – in timelapse, they are gracefully coming closer to each other. A moment of appreciation for the beautiful is disrupted by one of recognition and shock. The lamps are gonna crash into each other. A murmur goes through the cinema. It’s a firework of broken glass and electric spasms.

Last week ‘Interior Motives’ the first-ever documentary to explore the connectedness of fashion and design premiered at the Berlin Short Film Festival, and won. The filmlet poses questions we haven’t thought before: “Why are fashion designers hyped as celebrities and interior designers haven’t”, “Will interior designers be the next superstars?”, “Why do fashion designers dive into interior and interior designers rarely into fashion”? Natalie Shirinian, the creator and director of ‘Interior Motives’ explores these topics, starring Michele Lamy, Rick Owens, Ryan Korban and Tommy Hilfiger among others.  We talked with her about exploring new fields, multiple talents and female leadership


Nele Tüch I know – boring question, but tell me a little bit about ‘Interior Motives’, how did you come up with the idea for the project?

Natalie Shirinian Not boring at all. When I first came up with the idea to make ‘Interior Motives’ I was noticing that home collections were the natural progression for many fashion designers like Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Armani, and so on.. and it made me curious to see if it worked the other way, and which interior/product designers had fashion as a background or if they used fashion as an influence – whether it be in textiles or different forms in their products. From that, the light bulb moment of making this into a documentary was formed. ‘Interior Motives’ is truly the first ever documentary exploring the interconnectedness of fashion and interior design set out to answer: Why are so many more fashion designers launching home collections? Why is it so relevant in today’s society? and with that, my aim was to bring an insider look at these highly exclusive industries.

NT Basically, it originated from your background as an actress, your talent agency past and your experiences with your current agency NES, which is connecting fashion, interior and design. How natural was this step into taking over the film direction yourself?

NS Yes to all of those things above and that I truly enjoy telling stories, and bringing other people’s stories to the world in a visual and picturesque way. As an actress, I worked on multiple sets, and the one moment that really stuck with me was when Steve Martin took the time to give me direction on the set of ‘Shop Girl’. I had the tiniest part, and he just took the time to come over and give me some advice. That stuck with me. To coach someone and really encourage their inner voice, and their talents to full potential – that has transcended not only with my agency at NES but with the filmmaking process as well. Since then I knew I wanted to be a part of filmmaking in some way. My co-director Michelle Peerali on this project has also been so influential. I’ve known her for about 14 years now and she is a gifted filmmaker as well and we really did collaborate so well on this.

NT What was the most impressive revelation you had while working on this project?

NS Two things –
One: You really need a great production team to make your vision happen. I was lucky to have that.
Two: That fashion to design is such an easier progression than the other way around – design to fashion. Maybe it’s because fashion designers have more of a social and public profile. So many of the individual talents we interviewed are so multi-faceted – with backgrounds in film, and costume design.. we are multi-talented people and we need to discover all of our hidden talents to be on our true paths.

NT Do you plan on continuing this path of your career in the future?

NS Yes, definitely. I wrote a very personal script that has to do with not only being a gay woman but the struggles of being a gay woman in Armenian culture. I start casting and shooting next month in Los Angeles.

NT ‘Interior Motives’ was five years in the making. Why so long?

NS It was a self-funded project that I did on the side while running my agency. So whatever free time I had, I devoted to the film. It took a while but we got there.

NT What do you think will be the next big thing for fashion designer interior collections?

NS Even since the beginning of when I started making this film to where we are now so many more fashion designers have created home lines. From Rick Owens, to Gucci, to Acne, to Marni – I think more will come out for sure – I think the technology that is integrated into the work will be the direction that it will go for sure. Whatever that means, I can see it progressing. It’s exciting, to say the least.

NT You made this film about the interconnectedness of design and fashion and a lot of media coverage is about your homes in New York and Los Angeles. How strong is your personal connection with interior design?

NS I enjoy it as a passion most definitely especially when it comes to our living spaces – I’ve been influenced by interior design for so many years now – whether it be by interior designer friends, or integrating client’s product designs into our homes it definitely plays a big part. I’ve styled friends homes, and get asked here and there. I also think it plays an important part in film with set design and environments so I’m lucky I can pull from so many greats in my lexicon for future projects.

NT Reading up on you, it’s all about business, female leadership and interior design, it’s less about fashion. What’s your relationship to this world?

NS For me, I wouldn’t say it’s less about fashion at all. Fashion plays a huge role in my life on the daily. Self-expression through style is a cornerstone of my identity.

NT Many of the key players on your film are female, including all of your co-producers. How does it feel working with an all-female leadership team?

NS All the women on my team are incredibly supportive of my vision and doing everything they can when working to realize it. That’s what anyone would want when producing a project. I’m grateful to have a team of female producers who have worked on major projects jump on board for this. And a great female music supervisor who brought on a female Grammy nominated artist for the original score – all of it feels amazing.

NT Being a female leader and living together with your wife, what’s your turn on feminism right now in America?

NS I believe in equality across the board. As far as female equality – we’re making great strides – but there’s a lot more to go.


Interview and text NELE TÜCH