Just Desserts

By Hannah Wallace October 1, 2010

When Sarasota interior designer Angela Rodriguez won a 2009 International Design Award, she joined the company of past IDA winners like Dyson Electronics and the architects behind the Beijing Olympics’ “Water Cube.” Rodriguez’s entry, a curvy, sensual design for a hypothetical dessert bar called “Melt,” garnered a third-place award in the conceptual interior design category and was judged by a panel that included Kelly Wearstler of Bravo’s Top Design and Kahi Lee of HGTV’s Design on a Dime.

Born into an artistic family, Rodriguez, 27, says she was trained in fine art “pretty much ever since I could hold a pencil.” But it was the bold, progressive restaurant designs in her native Philadelphia that inspired her to think of “space as art,” she says, and made her decide to study interior design at Ringling College of Art and Design.

After graduation, she worked for international design and architecture firms in Miami and Orlando before returning to Sarasota last year to start her own studio, which she named

Space as Art.

“With every project, my goal is for it never to be a copy of anything I’ve done or seen done before. Doing different things keeps it interesting,” she says.Her award-winning Melt design began simply as a personal exercise, a change of pace after a couple of intense global resort projects.

“I just wanted to flex my design brain a little,” Rodriguez says.

With a resume that includes homes, hotels and even banks as far away as China, Rodriguez notes that international design is moving toward softer surfaces and textures. Her design for Melt follows that trend, featuring warm, chocolaty browns, cylindrical light treatments, rounded booths and a circular bar. The result is an eclectic and personalized take on modern design, she says.

Rodriguez believes people got into the habit of playing it safe with their interiors during the real estate boom.

“Many people became focused on what would be neutral and easily sellable to someone else,” she says. “The result was a lot of cookie-cutter designs.” Now that people are staying in their homes rather than planning to quickly sell them, they’re beginning to follow her ethic: “Your home should reflect you, your style, not someone else.”

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