Vanessa Helmick of Fiore Interiors on Finding Inspiration in Maine’s Landscapes
Vanessa Helmick, owner of Fiore Interiors in Portland, sums up the contemporary design zeitgeist in one sentence when she says, “People are just having more fun with their homes.” Helmick tells MH+D Inside Out what it means to “have more fun” with a home and why getting outside has made her a more mindful person—and a better designer.
Q. You’ve said that there’s a “unpretentious” spirit in design right now. What do you mean by that?
A. Beautiful homes are more understated now. Design isn’t about showing off anymore—it’s more about how pieces are made and acquired, and how you can leave room for growth and evolution of one’s personal style. In the most elegant properties, we’re seeing a lot more textured, earth-inspired materials that last, from leathered natural-stone countertops to textured sunbrella fabrics on sofas. Beauty is now timeless and approachable, and less influenced by trends.
Q. Do you find that the clients approaching you are younger as well?
A. No, not at all. I have some of the most amazing grandmothers as clients right now who have great art collections—they’ve traveled and lived.
Q. What’s your style like?
Most of my work is organic-modern, and I’m inspired by nature. I love clean lines, beautiful textures, and comfortable pieces. I also love nature-inspired designs, but I don’t mean as a theme. Although I like the leafy wallpaper as much as the next person, I take a step beyond that with texture and light. With an organic-modern style, you get pieces in your home that can take a beating and still look beautiful—that’s how most of us want to live now.
Q. How does nature impact design in Maine?
A. Design in Maine is so strong because of our landscapes. A lot of people here, including artists and homeowners, have relationships with the natural world. Nature helps keep us grounded and mindful. I also put a lot of Maine art in people’s homes—I like to send them to Portland Art Gallery and Maine College of Art, among others. People come from around the world to create art here, so if you move to Maine because you’re attracted to its beauty and serenity, you’ll likely fall in love with Maine art as well. The art scene here is cutting-edge, too, which inspires the interior design scene in Maine. Mainers tend to be inspired by the world around us, no matter what field we work in or used to work in, and artists and designers influence each other to think and live more creatively.