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The Fair
June 10, 2024

Passion is the key component of everything Dadapt does. Shari Francis is the founder and principal designer of the New York-based interior design firm, known for its balanced execution of business administration, design, and construction management. The company’s portfolio includes residential and commercial spaces as well as captivating narratives for development and hospitality projects.

Francis received a M.S. in Interior Design from Pratt Institute, and she teaches at Pratt’s School of Professional Studies. She is a certified minority woman-owned business in the city of New York and a member of the Black Artists and Designers Guild.

As a kid, what did you answer when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 
I always said I wanted to be a dancer.

How would you describe your design philosophy?
My designs create clean, simple cohesive interiors. The aim is to integrate personal influences that will shape the narrative of my client’s environment.

Who are the three designers you follow on Instagram?
Zaha Hadid, Malene Barnett, and Ishka Design

Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to be a designer? If so, what was it?
I knew as a child how interiors impacted my mood and level of comfort. Each season of my teenage years I would re-arrange and re-decorate my bedroom with the things I had. My goal was to find my aesthetic and the optimal amount of square footage to allow me to dance and be silly.  At that time, I didn’t know it was called interior design. It became clear to me after I graduated from college how designing for interiors had such an impact on creating special moments. The clarity occurred when my mother insisted on having me design my sister’s sweet 16 birthday party. I was designated a budget and design guidelines, and like most designers, I had to create a magical experience for this event. When these 16-year-olds smiled and danced to their heart’s content, I knew I did my job. It was at this point I realized I wanted to be a designer.

Which of your projects or products are you most proud?
It’s a work in progress, but I am proud and excited about designing my family home in Brooklyn, N.Y.. This experience has allowed me to explore my philosophies through spatial relationships and partake in the making of things that truly represent me.

What are your favorite materials with which to work? Why?
Tiles!!! Give me porcelain, give me ceramic, give me marble and terrazzo. I love them all. I find it most intriguing when you can explore and create a multitude of patterns that evoke positive feelings

What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
I urge new designers to build a strong foundation of trusted support. This can be done through networking within the design community. It is important to know who you can rely on professionally as you start working on any projects. Make friends with architects, other designers, and vendors. Design is ever-evolving and innovating, so a good community can help you navigate through obstacles.

What’s now?
I am designing an assisted-living facility in Connecticut where I am learning how to experiment outside the norms to create a safe and comfortable environment for the aging community. I am finding ways to use materiality to connect with nature. I also am playing with colors and patterns to assist with wayfinding and, most importantly, create positive memories for the intended tenants and their families.

What’s next? 
As I maneuver through the challenges of designing for the aging community, I am allowing myself to go beyond space planning and tap into making things like furniture and textiles. I intend to focus on the commonality of weaving through the cultures I experience and what it looks like in different mediums. This new exploration has allowed me to once again fall deeply in love with performance and artistry of all things design.