Written by Fran Worrall
Terracotta Design Build is poised for growth. The award-winning firm, which was started in 2005 by architects and longtime collaborators Ili Hidalgo-Nilsson and Luly Bestard-Melarti, offers comprehensive residential design and construction services and implementation—from initial architectural concept to turnkey delivery. Now, the Decatur-based company is expanding its services to focus more intently on the interior design market for residential and boutique commercial.
According to Hidalgo-Nilsson, interest in the interior design portion of the firm’s business has skyrocketed in the last few years, accompanied by a trend toward personalization in both residential and commercial spaces. “There’s been a big shift in homeowner preferences, with many people choosing to enhance their living quarters through interior design rather than major renovations,” she said. “We’ve also seen an uptick of interest in commercial interiors as they become more intimate, with defined personalities that resonate with consumers and echo the feel of home.”
The pandemic ushered in some of these changes. As people began working remotely, they wanted more flexible and comfortable surroundings at home. Now that workers are returning to the office and travel is making a comeback, consumers are seeking homelike amenities in the workplace and in hotels.
Terracotta Design Build is evolving to support this growing demand. Last year, the firm hired Lucinda Aron as interior design lead to expand its new venture, Interiors by Terracotta. She brings more than two decades of commercial and residential expertise to the position, with years of experience in the hospitality sector and a portfolio that includes award-winning projects for hotels, resorts, and restaurants around the world. She is also serving a two-year term as the at-large director of the Georgia chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers, the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers.
“Lucinda is an ideal fit for us,” said Hidalgo-Nilsson. “Her strengths in boutique commercial design add depth to our core business, which is residential, and she has the talent and experience to take our interiors division to a new level. She’s the full package, with proficiency in interior architecture and space planning as well as design.”
Aron is delighted to be a part of the Terracotta team. “I like projects that are smaller in scale and more intimate in nature,” she said, adding that she especially enjoys helping people achieve their design dreams. “I love working one-on-one with clients to create personalized spaces that are beautiful as well as functional.”
Her international background is a natural fit for the Terracotta team, where multiple languages may be heard in the studio at any time. She was born in South Africa, raised in London, and has traveled extensively throughout her lifetime. “Understanding different cultural contexts has enhanced my ability to create spaces that speak to a wide audience,” she said. Moreover, exposure to a variety of design philosophies inspires her to think outside the box—a Terracotta trademark.
Aron is energized by the collaboration between departments at Terracotta. “There’s a real sense of camaraderie and teamwork,” she said, adding that the office vibe is approachable and fun. “Clients don’t feel intimidated here. They feel welcomed and truly heard. This is a very friendly place.”
Terracotta’s extensive experience in both architecture and construction, the latter led by seasoned builder Maurie Hullender, has enabled the firm to provide a comprehensive range of services that other companies can’t match. With the addition of Aron—and the eventual hiring of other interior designers—the company looks forward to expanding its standalone interior design services to residential and boutique commercial clients.
“Terracotta Design Build is better than ever,” Hidalgo-Nilsson concluded. “We can handle an entire residential project from concept through construction, and now we offer individual interior design services reaching into the boutique commercial market. Either way, we take away the stress that often accompanies the design process and instead provide a worry-free experience for our clients.”