The owner of Duffek Design talks about the latest home trends, inspiration and giving back.
By Sharon Stello
Deana Duffek has visited nearly every continent, but Laguna Beach is the only place she wants to call home. After growing up in Texas and attending college in Georgia, she moved to Laguna two decades ago after falling in love with this “quintessential, cozy beach community” while visiting an aunt nearby.
“It is a town full of artists and designers and I am an artist and designer, so … when I moved to Laguna, it was kind of like, ‘Oh my God, I found my people,’ ” she recalls. “… Plus it’s the eclectic group of people that live here. You don’t know the difference between the artist and the billionaire, and I just love that everyone’s so respectful and kind and we still foster that sense of art and individuality here.”
Duffek became involved in home design at a young age with family members working in the industry. She went on to study interior architecture, earned a master’s degree in leadership studies and has worked in brand development and licensing for businesses and organizations like Anheuser-Busch, The National Wildlife Federation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and the Wyland Foundation.
When it comes to interior design, she focuses mostly on luxury homes in coastal OC, but also works on some commercial projects, which bring together her design and branding expertise. “I feel like you need to look at a brand in totality,” she says.
Duffek is also passionate about giving back: Her nonprofit, Design With Purpose, creates healing environments for kids or families in need. The projects are funded through philanthropic support and by selling high-end materials removed during home renovations. The organization partners with Children’s Hospital of Orange County and the Orange County Department of Education to create WellSpaces in schools. Locally, she teamed up with the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach to create a WellSpace for the teen loft, set to be completed this fall.
The nonprofit uses trauma-informed design techniques when choosing colors and furniture styles as well as adding sensory play and therapeutic stations to teach mindful movement, breathwork or art therapy. Calm spaces are desperately needed, she says, as teens are struggling with mental health issues and suicides are up considerably.
Duffek also has a few new projects on the horizon. Her office is moving from Glenneyre Street to North Coast Highway near Jasmine Street, where she’s opening an interior design showroom in the former Fetneh Blake space by the end of November.
And she’s starting up a podcast with the same name as her nonprofit. Launching this fall, “Design With Purpose” will explore the connectivity between wellness and design while also touching on trends, the history behind certain styles, the psychology of well-designed spaces, color theory, the design-build process and more, weaving together personal experience, research and discussion with guests from designers and architects to trauma-informed design experts and educators. It will be available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart and other platforms.
Read on to learn more about Duffek, who is often spotted in town with rescue yorkiepoo Charlie Angel.
Laguna Beach Magazine: What home design trends have you noticed recently?
Deana Duffek: We are big fans of bringing nature in and biophilic design. We’ve always designed that way, … but it’s interesting to see that biophilic design is a little bit more on trend right now.
What inspires you?
DD: Being in nature inspires me. … Other artists inspire me [and] being around really good architects and people in my business that I admire and respect. … [Also,] living in Laguna. … It’s so magical and beautiful. Every day, I’m like, “I can’t believe I get to live here.” … [Also,] music and art, nature … and traveling.
Do you have a favorite travel spot?
DD: Barcelona. … Spain has so much beautiful architecture, … but it’s also the people and the culture and the way that they live and the food, the music, the art. … They seem to have a real appreciation and understanding of life and work-life balance.
Go-to restaurant in Laguna?
DD: Broadway [by Amar Santana]. I love the food. I really enjoy the entire experience. It is nice to sit at the chef’s table and enjoy all the fun things they send your way.
DD: I like to cycle and I like to play beach volleyball. I am [also] a Sawdust [Art Festival] artist, so painting in my spare time keeps me busy. I also love music [and] going to live shows. I’m also a reiki master and yogi.