A career of her own design

view the write-up in the Providence Journal

by GAIL CIAMPA

Interior designer Libby Slader had a huge 2011 by any professional measure. She left the comfort of a 10-year career with long-established, well-known Morris Nathanson Design to go out on her own, starting Libby Slader Interior Design.

Right out of the starting gate she landed two high-profile Downcity Providence restaurant jobs on Westminster Street.

First she redesigned Tazza from its humble coffee shop beginnings and transformed it into an upscale restaurant with an eye-catching bar. Then she started from scratch creating the new Sura, an Asian restaurant, out of what was a furniture store. And she did it on a budget, with strategies that included polishing the worn floor to a high gloss industrial look instead of replacing it, and using acoustic panels to add an intimacy to the high-ceiled room.

Libby Slader at work
THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL / JOHN FREIDAH

Then there was her third job: designing the interior work spaces for 38 Studios, Curt Schilling’s video-game company. Her experience working for Sony Studios in California in the late ’90s helped her get the job. It required her to create spaces open enough for employees to choreograph scenes before they would be animated and become part of a game.

“I understood how the spaces had to be, which is to say unconventional,” she said.

A graduate of Syracuse University and a resident of Edgewood, Slader is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Her company is based in Pawtucket.

Now 2012 is looming just as large for Slader.

This winter she’s working on a coal-fired pizzeria on Westminster Street.

But her biggest challenge is to design a new dining room on the first floor at George’s of Galilee. While the top-floor dining room operates as usual, she is creating a new patio space for the seafood spot that has been a landmark in the fishing port since 1948. As a native of Rhode Island and one who worked at another iconic clam shack (Aunt Carrie’s), she understands the mindset of the diner.

“George’s is such a part of people’s experience,” she said. “They’d come here every summer as a family. They don’t want to see things change too much,” she said.

Neither does the Durfee family, owner of George’s, she added. So she promises a comfortable new dining room but one with many nostalgic touches.

“Everything will be very respectful of the place and the people,” she said.

Designer Libby Slader started her own firm and landed two high-profile Downcity restaurant jobs. She also worked on the interior for 38 Studios, Curt Schilling’s video-game company.