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Beyond the Surface with Luciana Fragali of Design Solutions Miami

Beyond the Surface with Luciana Fragali of Design Solutions Miami

As Featured in Luxury Guide 2024 print edition 

Kirstein Residence Living Room


Design Solutions, guided by Luciana Fragali’s visionary leadership, shines as a beacon of interior design excellence. Hailing from São Paulo, Brazil, Luciana has brought her wealth of design expertise to the United States, meticulously establishing a Miami-based design firm. Her unwavering commitment to ethics, transparency, and unmatched service has solidified Design Solutions as an industry leader. Design Solutions is more than an interior decorating firm; it’s a collective of seasoned interior designers and creatives specializing in comprehensive residential transformations. Their work is marked by meticulous attention to detail, client-centricity and dedication to quality.

What sets Design Solutions apart is its holistic design approach, covering budgeting, timeliness and accurate project estimates from the outset. It is celebrated for innovative designs, but its ultimate satisfaction is seeing clients’ profound joy in their transformed spaces. Design Solutions builds trust with clients, embracing the immense responsibility it entails. It offers luxury home decorating services as an experience, fostering collaboration with clients as integral team members.

Join us in an exclusive interview with Luciana as we delve into her inspiring journey and philosophy that drives Design Solutions’ exceptional success.

What was your motivation or inspiration for becoming a designer?
To give people what they don’t know they want.

When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
I was 4 years old. Instead of going to toy stores, I would ask my mom to take me to a kids’ furniture store that sold modular furniture for kids’ bedrooms.

Do you have any mentors? Who? Why? My family.
My brother and husband have shown me that anything is possible when I apply the right amount of discipline and drive to what I want to do.

How would you describe your preferred design style?
Contemporary, cozy and full of personality.

Does your background have anything to do with your design style?
I draw daily inspiration from Brazilian architects, as there is something uniquely special about Brazilian interior design. The effortless beauty that permeates Brazilian design resonates with my own style.

How do you approach understanding a client’s vision and translating it into a design concept while infusing your artistic touch?
My approach begins with a deep understanding of the client’s dynamics and preferences, whether for an individual or a family. I pay close attention to their words, relationships and self-descriptions. I then craft a concept that reflects my keen attention to their needs and expectations. Simultaneously, I introduce my own creative ideas, suggesting possibilities they might not have considered because they were unaware of their potential.

Do you follow design trends, or do you approach design differently? How do you stay up to date with current trends, and what’s your approach to incorporating them into your projects?
I stay aware of design trends, selectively embracing those that align with my vision and pioneering a few trends myself. However, my primary focus is crafting highly customized projects that cater to my clients’ unique preferences, aiming for distinct and original creations rather than following trends.

How do you balance a client’s desire for trendy elements with the goal of creating a timeless design that withstands changing times?
I aim to integrate trendy elements into easily and reasonably replaceable items, such as decor objects, rugs, wallpaper and wall art.

Do you consider aestheticism or functionality to be important? How do you manage the balance between functionality and aesthetics in your designs?
I consider both aspects equally vital. Aesthetics without function become obsolete, so my design approach prioritizes function. I always keep the client’s needs at the forefront of my mind. I then infuse beauty into every aspect of functionality.

Can you walk me through your creative process, from concept ideation to final implementation?
We begin by meeting with the client to understand their needs and vision. Once our contract is in place, we create an initial presentation that includes architectural changes, space planning, reference images and mood boards. After reaching an agreement on the architectural direction, we develop a detailed presentation with plans for lighting, architectural features, finishes and other specifics. Once these details are approved, we select and finalize furniture, fixtures, rugs and wallpaper. Our presentations include floorplans, elevations and 3D renderings to provide a comprehensive view of the design concept.

How do you measure the success of a design project?
When the client’s reaction surpasses expectations, often evoking tears of joy and genuine surprise, we consider a project truly successful, as it ultimately brings happiness to our clients.

Do you have a favorite project? Why?
Every project holds a special place in my heart. I genuinely become enamored with each one we undertake. I immerse myself in the project, empathizing with the client, delving into their frustrations, aspirations, budget constraints, needs and, most importantly, expectations.

Kirstein Residence Bathroom


How do you strike the perfect balance between creating a visually stunning space and ensuring it remains functional and practical for everyday use?
Quality and durability go hand in hand. I do not think I can design a practical space without beauty.

What trend do you believe is currently making the biggest impact in the design world, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
I’ve observed a shift away from exuberance and exaggeration in upholstery, wallpaper, wall colors and millwork. Clients are opting for a more neutral base rather than maximalism. They’re reserving the use of colors, patterns and textures for staging rather than overwhelming foundational elements like flooring, millwork and large furniture.

Is there a favorite design trend that has recently made a comeback?
I’ve noticed a resurgence of interest in transitional kitchen design, moving away from flat, ultra-modern and cold aesthetics. Additionally, trends such as boiserie wall panels, round sofas, mosaic accent tiles in bathrooms or special rooms, and terrazzo floors and walls have made a comeback.

Which design element or material do you find yourself incorporating most frequently?
Wood, without a doubt. I’m quite obsessed with wood veneers and the creative possibilities they offer in modern design.



What floor material is currently trending?
High-quality porcelain is currently trending for floors. It’s low-maintenance, and it’s even better when it doesn’t mimic natural materials but instead showcases its own characteristics.

What is your preferred flooring option?
Personally, I adore wood, but I’m aware of its limitations when used as a flooring material.

Kirstein Residence Dining Room


What are some of your go-to paint colors for foundational elements?
I tend to favor neutrals in the greige family as foundational colors. I generally avoid white for interior walls, as it tends to show imperfections.

Do you have a favorite bold paint color, and where do you think it works best?
I’m quite fond of a color called La Paloma Gray (1551) by Benjamin Moore. It works exceptionally well for accent walls and specific furniture pieces.

What are your thoughts on wallcoverings and panels, and when do you recommend incorporating them into a design?
I aim to cover every wall in a project. I’m not particularly fond of painted drywall because it tends to get dirty, is rarely flawless and can appear cheap. In most of our projects, we cover every wall with either wallpaper, Venetian plaster or wood, depending on the room’s use and overall design concept.


What are the key considerations you prioritize when selecting lighting fixtures to enhance both the aesthetic and functionality of a space?
I’m fundamentally against overly bright, football field-style lighting plans. The quality of lighting can often reveal whether a home was professionally designed or not. In my perspective, less is more when it comes to the number of fixtures, not the amount of light itself. I strongly believe in indirect lighting, which washes the room with gentle illumination instead of relying on numerous focused lights. The objective is for light to emphasize the room or objects as needed, nothing more.

How do you go about choosing light tones, such as white or yellow lighting, to achieve specific moods or design objectives in a space?
For residential projects, I tend to avoid white lighting, as it can give a commercial feel and sometimes make the room appear greenish. Instead, we typically opt for lighting in the 2700 to 3000 Kelvin range, depending on the desired mood and the specific fixture we plan to use.

Have you noticed any new lighting features that have recently entered the market?
I’m particularly fond of the recent emergence of recessed wall and floor lights, cave ceiling lights and all forms of indirect lighting fixtures. These additions offer versatile and appealing lighting options for various design scenarios.

Kirstein Residence Kitchen


How significant is the integration of smart home features from a real estate value perspective in your design?
Smart home integration is extremely important, but it must be user-friendly. Nowadays, the possibilities for automation are limitless. I recall a client who was a banker but had a passion for attending home automation trade shows. He became so proficient that he was the only one capable of operating his own home. For most people, the convenience of controlling everything from lighting to security without leaving their bed or sofa is a significant comfort.

When should the integration of smart home features be incorporated into the design process?
It’s best to introduce smart home integration at the very beginning of the design process. This is because low-voltage cabling must be concealed behind walls for the system to function optimally. While there are alternative methods, determining the audiovisual scope of work early on ensures the best functionality and integration of smart home features.


What are some effective ways to instantly elevate the look and feel of a space?
To quickly enhance the ambiance of a space, focus on three key elements: outstanding lighting, thorough cleaning and decluttering, and engaging staging.

What is the significance of incorporating greenery and plants into indoor spaces?
Bringing greenery and plants indoors infuses life into a project. Plants and flowers bridge the gap between the outdoors and indoors, adding personality, beauty and a sense of tranquility to a space.

What are the essential elements for creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere in a living room or bedroom?
To achieve a cozy and welcoming atmosphere in a living room or bedroom, consider factors like comfortable furnishings, warm lighting, soft textiles and personalized decor that reflects the homeowner’s style and preferences.

Kirstein Residence Bedroom

The allure of beauty and opulence in South Florida is undeniable, a splendor that resonates not only in the vibrant landscapes but also in the architectural marvels carefully crafted by talented designers. Your portfolio is a testament to this aesthetic grandeur, showcasing your skill in creating visually stunning projects. Yet, behind every captivating façade lies a narrative of perseverance and triumph. Could you shed light on the challenges that quietly shaped your journey to success?

The meaning of success can have a level of ambiguity. What does success mean to you?
To me, success signifies achieving balance and harmony, fostering open communication and maintaining humility.

What has been the key to your success?
Perseverance has been the cornerstone of my success. I prioritize my clients’ needs above all else, avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring their satisfaction remains my top priority.

Can you share an example of a particularly challenging project you worked on and how you navigated the obstacles to deliver a successful outcome?
Navigating challenges in multi-client projects, where differing perspectives and priorities exist, can be demanding. One project stands out where a client’s spouse was excluded from involvement. This posed significant difficulties, as issues arose after the project’s completion, leading me to reconsider such situations in the future and ensure all parties that will be decision-makers living in the home are present.

Can you share a mistake that you made early on and what you learned from it?
An early mistake I made was giving clients ballpark cost estimates before a budget study, which often led to unrealistic expectations. To rectify this, I no longer provide such estimates until we’ve prepared a detailed budget study. This approach ensures a more accurate understanding of project costs. These experiences have transformed me as a designer by reinforcing my commitment to strong client relationships and refusing projects that compromise beauty or functionality. My goal is to always exceed expectations, and I politely decline projects if I believe those criteria cannot be met.

Designers wear many hats. How do you keep yourself organized?
I am inherently organized as an Aries. I keep all my proverbial “hats” neatly organized in both my office and home. I’m adaptable and comfortable wearing any hat required for the task at hand.

How do you balance between running your business and growing it?
I believe in organic growth. I’m not aiming for tremendous expansion; instead, I seek unique projects that allow us to express creativity with responsibility and transparency, ensuring a balanced and peaceful growth approach to business.

When things get tough, where do you get your motivation to keep on going?
In challenging times, my motivation comes from reading, meditation, belief in personal growth and cultivating inner peace. I consider myself a spiritual being, finding purpose in every challenge.

Do you have any regrets?
Absolutely not. I wouldn’t change anything in my life, as it would lead to a different outcome. I’m content with where I am.

Of what are you most proud?
I take pride in my team’s unity, creativity, dedication, and ability to align and connect effectively.

Is there one thing you would like to be remembered for?
I aspire to be remembered as a great human being who happened to create beautiful projects.

What advice would you give to new designers (or entrepreneurs) who are just starting out?
Interior design, like any profession, requires a full understanding of responsibilities and hard work for success and respect. Embrace the gratifications and disappointments, think creatively, and dare to think outside the box.

Kirstein Residence Sitting Room


Had you not pursued design, what would your other dream job be? Nutrition.
When are you most creative? I am most creative when not surrounded by people – when I am quiet, reserved and thoughtful.
What are most people surprised to learn about you? I am super shy.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do? Spend time with my kids and family, read, meditate, listen to podcasts, watch the sunset, swim in the ocean and be grateful.
Favorite activity or hobby? Learning something new and evolving my soul.
Do you have a necessary extravagance? Something you can’t live without? Beauty in my house. I am constantly moving things and adding new pieces.


Favorite artist? Manolo Valdés.
Favorite gadget? Headphones.
Favorite fashion designer? Zimmermann.
Favorite local hidden gem? My backyard.
Favorite local boutique? The Bazaar Project.
Favorite local hotel? Faena Hotel Miami Beach.
Favorite out-of-town hotel? Six senses Laamu in the Maldives.
Favorite local museum/art gallery? Pérez Art Museum Miami.
What is your one guilty indulgence? Shoes.


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