Maria Deschamps Interview 2011

May 21, 2011    


Son & Image Magazine
Project : Montreal’s south shore
Maria Deschamps (interview)
May 2011

You are from the United States. What brought you to Quebec?
Romance! Once I moved here with all of my treasured belongings, I also fell in love with the people of Quebec, Canada and especially the Montreal culture.

You’re an Interior Designer. Can you present us how your us your professional career took on?
I was interested in design for as long as I can remember. I still have a sketch that I prepared of my “dream bedroom” when I was about 7 years old, complete with furniture, toys and “hiding places”…..I started my studies at the University of Nevada, Reno and then transferred to a private college in downtown San Francisco, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. When I moved to Montreal I started working with a commercial design firm that specializes in retail design. At that time they were very involved in designing stores in California, so our connection was perfect! I still work as a designer for retailers, customizing boutiques and other commercial projects. About 7 years ago I wanted to broaden my services and design something that where I could use my experience in customizing furniture and in spaces. I love movies, so home theatres were the ticket!

Is there a particular education to design Home Theatres?
CEDIA and THX (and the like) offer certificates in Home Theatre design, they are based on room acoustics, electronics and equipment placement. I assisted a CEDIA workshop just last year. It’s also so important to have a good education in interior design or architecture. I was fortunate to have a specialized design education where I took classes like space planning, lighting design, art history, drafting, color theory, modern architecture, etc. Later I took classes in AutoCAD (computer aided drafting) which all architects and most designers use today. I work very closely with the Audio / Video Company that provide the electronics to ensure the proper installation and locations.

You are associated with the installation of the month that we are presenting in this month’s magazine. How does a project like this progress and what are the principle steps?
Listening to the client is the first and most important step. The needs of the client have to be met above all else. Know and understanding the type of equipment to be used in the home theatre, effects, location requirements etc. Also to study what the room needs from an acoustical point of view. Then the preliminary plans are prepared: a sketch of the space in plan / elevations / and perspective in some cases. This is also the time when I propose the materials and finishes. The types of materials to be used in a home theatre are very important for a good sound effect. Final construction drawings and details are prepared, and the construction begins hand in hand with the cabling and equipment installation.

Is this the first time that you have integrated LED lighting in a home theatre space?
No, actually I’ve been using LED in home theatres for several years now. I feel strongly about lighting, it is one of the most important elements in any project and I am always looking for new products.
DEL’s are extremely low in wattage, and have long lasting lives. They barely project heat, and are fantastic for indirect lighting.

As a designer what do you think that the most important thing when designing a home theatre?
A good communication between the client and audio / video specialist, design details, and quality of construction, all contribute to the final product. Ensuring comfort in the room so that the end user feels like they have no exterior disturbances, and feel an escape while they enjoy their film.

In your opinion what are the newest trends in home theater design? 
I see more and more the need for combination rooms. People want to maximize the space in their homes, which means combining a play room with a home theater, or integrating a bar area, pool table or an office in a home theater. In most of these cases we end up combining two types of screens, whereas there will be a flat screen TV on the wall and a projector with an automatic retractable screen in front of it. I’ve even designed a room with plasma on one wall, and a projector and screen on another so that both the husband and wife can be in the same room and watch 2 different things (wearing headphones of course)!

What do you think of the new smart home technology?
Unfortunately new smart home technology in homes today is moving slowly. The ease of these systems makes our everyday life user friendly and the energy savings are fantastic. The controls we use in home theaters for lighting, screens, and window coverings are high tech and fun to use. I hope that soon Smart homes will be as popular Smart phones!

What are your personal tastes of music and movies?
I love any type of music that projects passion, music that makes me want to dance, sing, and laugh or cry…. I love the classical movies and my favorite of all time is Roman Holiday, filmed in Rome 1953, Audrey Hepburn’s debut with Gregory Peck. I adore modern day films that give me a lasting memory, shock me, or educate me. I go to the movies at least once or twice a week, so I have many favorites. I often enjoy DVDs in the comfort of my home.