One to One Studio is an independent design studio, founded in 1996 by Clare Donohue.

Background: My passion for design has taken many turns.

I started drawing floor plans for fun when I was 8 (and professionally since 1996). But I grew up in the golden age of album covers, and hand-drawn typography was another big love. While still in high school, I was accepted into an early admissions program at the local college, and later graduated from the School of Visual Arts. Picking up freelance clients during senior year, my graphic design practice took off and ran non-stop for 14 years, primarily designing magazines. Meanwhile, my love for home design got plenty of practice, moving 16 times and fixing up a series of apartments.

Making the switch: Graphic design to interior design.

In 1994 I was hired to art direct a series of home design magazines with a small staff and tiny budget. Someone needed to oversee the renovations that would be photographed. The editor turned to me with a raised eyebrow and said, “You’re always fixing up your apartment . . .” I thought, “Sure, that'll be fun.” So I became the de facto general contractor as well as art director. Immediately bitten, I soon made the switch to designing rooms instead of layouts. I’d found my true love.

Invaluable experience: Knowing the job from multiple perspectives.

In the early years I was completely hands on, doing all the work myself and then, as business grew, training and running a paint crew, then expanding into a design/build firm, and later splitting off into a separate design studio. Now I work with several outside contractors and specialists. Such varied experience helps me consider any project from all perspectives – that of designer, client, project manager and contractor.

Core philosophy: Enjoy the trip, not just the destination. 

Renovations are big, exciting, creative art projects. It’s not buying a product off the shelf, it’s inventing something that has never existed before. I believe all renovations work best as collaborations. As we go along, we’re problem solving and making decisions as a team. The process is just as engaging as the results.

Extracurricular:  We need to redesign our global home, too.

In addition to running my design studio, in 2011 I founded Sane Energy Project, a non-profit devoted to the transition to a renewable energy future. In 2017, I passed the reins to our wonderful staff. A portion of profits from One to One Studio is donated  to support the terrific work they continue to do.

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