Passion for the sea: Toni Colom
Toni Colom lives and breathes interior design. Having joined MB92 in 1993, a year after it started, she has been an important player in the growth of the company ever since. Part of the dedicated interiors project management team in MB92 Barcelona as Interior Creative & Quality Control Manager, she brings a level of experience and authenticity that clients have trusted for nearly 30 years.
What inspired you to forge a career in this industry?
My connection to the sea is a little more literal than most as I have been living onboard a boat since 1982 and sailing is in my blood. I became involved in the shipyard world, in particular work on sailing boats, through my husband who is a yacht designer.
I was fortunate to be able to manage a new build project from drawing through to completion and final delivery to the client. This foundation helped form many of my views on how we use space onboard. I knew that this was to be my path and I have the same passion today as I did back then, regardless of the yacht particularities.
What is your background?
In 1986, after advising several friends on what changes they could make to the interior of their boat, I was approached by an owner to renovate the interior of his yacht. In my time sailing, I had always questioned why so little attention was paid to the interior – sleeping bags instead of bed sheets, plastic dishes, unimaginative colour palettes. It was all so functional. Given the fact that my home was onboard, I was maybe better placed to see what elements turned a functional space into one to enjoy. While initially unsure about taking the project on, I started and never looked back. In 1993, an MB92 Project Manager with whom I had previously sailed contacted me for consultation on a project and my story with MB92 began.
What gets you up in the morning?
Firstly, the level of creativity I am able to apply daily excites me and the nature of our work means that there is always a new project, with a fresh set of challenges and opportunities. Often the same yacht will return with a completely different scope, whether that be due to a change of owner, a shift in trends, or the owner’s needs have changed so one area needs to be completely remodeled.
Also, the fact that interior design never stands still means that you must always be open to new ideas and approaches. There is so much out there to discover and always something to inspire.
How would you define excellence?
For me, excellence comes through the marriage of vision and expertise. Our clients have the rare luxury of not being restricted by budget but with that comes a pressure to deliver. We have access to incredible craftmanship and the highest quality materials but unless these elements can be brought together harmoniously to create a space that is a pleasure to be in, we have not fulfilled our potential.
What do you think it takes to succeed in your position?
Owners will come into direct contact with the results of our work. From the shared spaces with other guests to the intimacy of personal space. Therefore, we must be able to understand this person, their personality, background, influences and needs without maybe ever meeting them. To do this it is vital to have the soft skills to form trusted relationships with everyone involved in the project and take every available piece of information to distill a vision into a clear project plan.
What advice would you have for those interested in starting their career in this sector?
Be patient, keep your eyes open and know how to listen, to absorb every detail from sources that can feed an idea.
We are surrounded by influences that can stimulate, from the latest trends in interior design to street art, so be aware of what is happening around you as you never know where that next spark will come from.