IT’S BEEN MORE than two decades since Floss Barber opened her eponymous firm with nothing more than a folding table and an answering machine. Today, Floss Barber Inc. boasts an impressive portfolio of high-end residential and commercial clients, most notably SugarHouse Casino, Philadelphia’s first-ever casino, slated to open this September. We dropped by Barber’s Center City office to find out what fuels her creativity these days.
Projects she’s most proud of: We worked with Emeril Lagasse on a new concept called Burgers and More [by Emeril] at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. It was a benchmark project for us. Working with someone of that caliber raises the level of your work.
Music on her iPod: [The] Bacon Brothers, Carla Bruni, Chet Baker and Miles Davis. I love Joni Mitchell. And I also listen to Eckhart Tolle.
Dream career if she weren’t an interior designer: Pastry chef. I was raised on a farm and used to do cooking demos for 4-H. I enjoy the creation and the presentation of baking. I make apple and blueberry pies and Julia’s Childs’ Queen of Sheba chocolate cake.
Her most treasured possession: Besides Dorothy Marie, my Boston terrier? It’s probably a pocketbook I bought in Czechoslovakia. The hardware is amazing, and it fits in your hand perfectly. It cost $25.
Last website she visited: I go on stylepark.com whenever I have free time. Or I Google fashion designers—I always like to buy myself something new when I travel, like the other day when I was trying to track down a dress from D&G for a trip to New York.
Interior designers she admires: Christian Liaigre, who designed the Le Sereno Hotel in St. Barths, and Andrée Putman, who did the Morgan Hotel in NYC. There’s such an elegance to both these properties. Her first milestone moment: We had just moved into our new office on Chestnut Street in 1989; it was a former bank. I remember I put on Georges Bizet’s Carmen, opened some Champagne, put my feet up and said, “Wow!” It was glorious.
What’s on her nightstand: A lot of books about management and travel. I love Jeannette Walls, who wrote The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses. And I have my iPhone.
How feng shui has influenced her work life: I felt an immediate change when we redesigned the office last year—and I think my team did, too. Feng shui is about the art of placement, which all designers are dealing with on some level. It’s about observing energy in a space. I moved my workspace from the front of the office to the back, where there would be fewer distractions.
What inspires her creativity: Traveling. I was in Rome last year; I love to visit the trattorias and restaurants there for ideas about what makes a space comfortable. I also look to Gordon Huether for inspiration; he’s a glass artist [in Napa].