Will Smith is a true testament to “turning lemons into lemonade”. Using the inspiration from a past relationship, Will found his passion for interior design which has catapulted him to becoming a sought after celebrity interior designer. Through persistence and the belief in his dreams, he has accomplished more than one could imagine.
While making the transition of leaving his job in the insurance industry, Will landed his first client - a coworker who wanted to have her bathroom redesigned. Up for the challenge, he transformed her bathroom from sterile hospital white to a spa retreat. This project validated the start of his Charlotte, N.C. design firm, Interior Motives by Will Smith, LLC, in February 2000.
Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and African American and African Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. However, at the beginning of his design journey he took interior design courses at Central Piedmont Community College. The designer, although, is mostly self-taught, he learned key concepts of interior design through magazines and books.
Since his humble beginnings, Will has attributed his success to his ability to connect with his clients. “I allow my clients to discover their design wants, the way I learned interior design,” explains Will. “I give the client my portfolio and magazines, have them show me their likes and dislikes so that I may assess their taste and interpret their style, remembering, that if a space is designed tastefully, it can define the client’s style.”
Over the span of his career, Will has designed hundreds of spaces for bank executives, lawyers, doctors, business owners and athletes around the country. Some of his notable clients include media mogul P. Diddy; renowned author Omar Tyree; radio personality and comedian Nephew Tommy and retired NFL receiver Yancey Thigpen, and Randy Moss, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Although he has an affluent clientele, he feels everyone can afford some aspect of design. This affordability is based on products being used differently to create new looks.
Will's beliefs were demonstrated as a contestant and fan favorite on HGTV’s “Design Star” Season 2. As one of the top three finalists, his favorite activity was the Dollar Store challenge, where he had to design a room from items purchased from this retailer only. He believes a good designer can go to the Dollar Store and design a fabulous space on a limited budget (but not recommended, lol). “Being a contestant on HGTV’s Design Star was exciting,” says Will. “It was one of the most interesting and intriguing experiences I have ever had in my life. I learned a lot, and am impressed with myself…”
He has also appeared on an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Surprise by Design” – Valentine’s Day Special, where he assisted hosts Rebecca Cole and Robert Verdi in transforming a Charlotte couple’s empty den into a sitting parlor and a large formal dining room, which Will designed, into a romantic dining area for two.
Smith’s latest venture, the opening of Interior Motives by Will Smith Retail Showroom was a way for Will to offer affordable options for his present and future clients. Located in Charlotte, this store carries modern furniture, wallpaper, rugs, art, home decor, drapery, reupholstery services and is an example of Will’s care and dedication to his customers. Now Will truly feels he has a place to help encourage his clients to embody the mission of his store: Think Eclectic, Embrace Creativity and Live Diversely
When Will is not designing he enjoys playing with his miniature Doberman Pinschers: Laila and Sweetie; spending time with friends and visiting new furniture stores and vendors. During his spare time, he often gets inspiration for projects he has undertaken.