Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Erica Islas

Founder and principal designer of EMI Interior Design, Erica Islas stitches bravery and tenacity into the very blueprints of her colorful designs. Passionate about adventure and finding peace in nature, we spoke with Erica about finding inspiration through explorations and infusing that boldness into her projects. Get to know Erica Islas and her work in this week’s Designer Friday.

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Copious natural sunlight highlights the clean tiling and spaciousness of this bathroom.

Copious natural sunlight highlights the clean tiling and spaciousness of this bathroom.

Andrew Joseph: You’re the newest Crayola color. What color are you and why?
Erica Islas: Sassy hot pink. Despite what most people would think, I can be a little spicy Latina sometimes. I’m spirited, passionate, and a little sassy. Although, you’ll mostly see me wearing black or neutrals, I LOVE to infuse color into people’s lives through design with vibrant and rich hues.

AJ: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
EI: My superpower would be SLOWING down or PAUSING time. I try to take in each moment and savor what is happening, but life moves very quickly and we are left with memories— which are great. I wish I could pause or slow down time and indulge in the moments longer.

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Cobalt cabinets give a fresh, new feel to this kitchen contrasting the stark white countertops. The wallpaper serves as a creative pop piecing the room together.

Cobalt cabinets give a fresh, new feel to this kitchen contrasting the stark white countertops. The wallpaper serves as a creative pop piecing the room together.

AJ: What’s your favorite cocktail?
EI: Skinny Margaritas with a side of chips and salsa! Chips and salsa are my weakness. I can eat chips and salsa as a meal— at least that’s what happens by the time my meal arrives! It happens every time. You have to keep the chips basket out of sight. Ha!

AJ: What are your ideal weekend plans?
EI: I’m an adventurous person and enjoy exploring. With that, I can think of a million ideal plans. For example, getting in the car and driving up to the mountains to unplug. This would include having a BIG breakfast, a good hike, massage, and maybe watching a funny movie. The day would end with a delicious dinner and a glass of wine while flipping through my favorite magazines. I enjoy anything related to unplugging and recharging.

Another ideal weekend plan would be jumping on a plane to a beach resort to enjoy water sports, laying on the beach simply relaxing, and soaking in the sun.

As a local to L.A., I also love exploring my own city. I love eating at new restaurants, and visiting new art exhibitions and museums. Spending time with friends and visiting family is also a great way to cap the weekend.

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Gold flows through every part of this powder room from the faucet to the frame, a satisfying aesthetic that Erica has differentiated and added to all of her work.

Gold flows through every part of this powder room from the faucet to the frame, a satisfying aesthetic that Erica has differentiated and added to all of her work.

AJ: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
EI: I speak Spanish fluently, it’s my first language. I can also speak a little Italian— which I need to brush up on!

AJ: How would you define your work in three words?
EI: Timeless, colorful, creative.

AJ: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
EI: Challenge yourself— if you fail, try again. Better to try and fail than fail to try. Also—don’t be in a rush to grow up.


blankAbout The Designer | For more than twenty years, architectural interior designer Erica Islas has offered a discerning list of clientele an innovative, luxurious take on the Modernist maxim Form Follows Function. Islas boasts a prestigious portfolio spanning home renovations in Hancock Park and Beverly Hills to Brentwood, Culver City and the Pacific Palisades.

Whether refreshing classic Lloyd Wright residences or turning powder rooms into jewel boxes, leading ground-up projects or finishing floor-to-ceiling turn-key renovations, Islas is praised for her endlessly creative approach, curating interiors that are sumptuous, colorful, airy, intimate— and always timeless.

Daughter of a builder, and born and raised in Los Angeles, Islas has a keen understanding of California design and lifestyle. In 1994, she joined an architecture firm in Beverly Hills, mastering the art of space planning; four years later, she discovered her true passion for residential design after joining an interior design firm in Santa Monica. In 2000, she founded EMI Interior Design in Los Angeles. Islas and her team take pride in creatively designing bespoke spaces while giving the upmost level of care and attention to their clients.

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