Women in Business Q&A: Gillian C. Rose, ASID, AIA, CMG, IACC NA

Gillian C. Rose is a New York-based interior designer and color expert, drawing on several years of professional experience in design practice, as well as formal training from Parsons School of Design. An accredited member of the International Association of Color Consultants North America, Gillian uses the psychological and physiological impact of color on the human experience to bring exceptional creativity and tailored design edge to all projects, whatever their size. 

Gillian is the founder of Gillian C. Rose Design and The Science of Color, using her personal mix of science, art and intuition to offer personalized, on site color palettes and comprehensive, ultimately bespoke design solutions. With an approach that combines all aspects of traditional design and color services with an eye for a project’s context and her client’s personal needs, Gillian is committed to delivering residential and boutique commercial spaces that exceed expectations.

How has your life experience made you the leader in Color that you are today?

My earliest happy memories are of coloring, first with crayons then up to the big league with markers. I can still remember my pre nursery Montessori teacher explaining that the color green was made up of yellow and blue. I have the ability of seeing not only colors but all the colors/tints that colors are comprised of. At 4, I could not believe that the teacher was wasting her time explaining something so obvious.  Spending half my childhood in hospitals, the ceiling were my canvases . I could color and design to my hearts delight anytime of the day or night. I could fly around the globe. In my experience as a designer, particularly while working in the corporate sector; color was the one aspect that most people are intimidated by. I figured out how to create a safe environment that would enable clients (mostly Senior Executives) to really explore and ultimately their color choices.

How has your history as a designer and experience aided your development of the Science of the Color?

In my experience as a designer, particularly while working in the corporate sector; color was the one aspect that most people are intimidated by. I figured out how to create a safe environment that would enable clients (mostly Senior Executives) to really explore and ultimately their color choices.

I have also had the privilege of working with some of our countries greatest architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Rafael Vinoly Architects & Thierry Despont. Initially I was brought on to complete existing projects. While all interior materials were TBD, it was always color that was the unifying element. 

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure with The Science of Color?

The most recent highlight was a project we just completed for the Healthcare Policy and Research Department at Weill Cornell Medicine. They wanted a calm humane environment where their team could feel both nurtured and productive. It is lead by a brilliant Chairwoman, which gave me the opportunity to create not only a place of tranquility but one that is decidedly feminine.  

My greatest challenge to date was designing the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center with Rafael Vinoly. It was 2,000,000 sq. ft and prior to my being brought on board, 11 shades of white had been selected. The largest challenges in any large building, are primarily, way-finding, and secondarily bringing a sense of human scale - for shear comfort. I used the foliage and shorelines that Massachusetts is know as my concept for color. Which solved both challenges simultaneously.  

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

The most valuable thing you can bring to the table, is that of understanding the psychology of how people make visual decisions.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

A CEO of a major Wall Street trading house once told me: 'When they say Yes, stop talking'

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

In this day and age, I am sorry to say -' Being Heard'. Especially since Color Science is a relatively new field in the United States. It can be easy to discount concepts that are not mainstream. 

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I have been extremely fortunate in my career, I feel it is our responsibility to play it forward. I still hear from designers, crediting me with being there. In my personal life it was my Grandmother. She was not brought up to work, but when the war broke out and my Grandfather became ill, she stepped up and ran the show. She never lost her grace or love of helping others. 

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

With the current landscape, it would be impossible not to include Hillary Rodham Clinton. She is one of the fore runners of women's lib. She was forced into a man's roll in order to grow. We have stood on her shoulders. There have been wonderful advances and great strides made. Woman's rolls have greatly changed in that we are excepted for our differences and strengths now, more than at any other time in history.  

What do you want The Science of Color to accomplish in the next year?

To positively impact as many people as possible, by creating productive , nurturing & stimulating places to be.

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