Focus: Soleil Design Intl. Inc.

This column comes at a time when I’m hard at work preparing for a presentation that I’ll be making soon about “Sustaining Life and Career in Design” at the annual Student Career Forum. This forum has taken place each year for more than 40 years in San Francisco, alternately sponsored by the International Furnishings Association (IFA), the Kitchen and Bath Association (KBA), and the California Central/Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), of which I’m a proud member.

This event has enjoyed a long, rich history, and I’m deeply honored and flattered to have been chosen as this year’s keynote speaker. To have the opportunity to influence young people just entering the design profession in even the smallest way—and to let them know how I’ve been able to sustain a 30-year career in one of the hardest single-enterprise businesses in the world (maybe short of show business)—is an exciting prospect for me.

Ethnic Master BedroomAnd so it has been a period of reflection (perfect timing, what with the old year ending and the new one just beginning) and of reviewing the body of work that I have “under my belt” after 30 years—having, by this point, worked in every aspect of design. Looking back it seems as though I’ve done it all (though I’m still eager as ever to see what the future may hold)—from furniture sales, to showroom owner, to furniture designer and manufacturer, to interior designer, and as of late, columnist and perhaps motivational speaker.

Ethnic Great RoomAs a child I was very taken by a quote from the 19th century poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” Wonderful, I thought then, and still do. I’ve lived my life and career as a visionary, always seeking to create, to dedicate myself to beauty and to the pursuit of all the higher ideals. It’s been a bumpy road from time to time (but life is like that, no?), still I’ve gone down a path with blessedly few regrets and hopefully, at least to this point, have left a legacy of inspired design and happy clients. And so I thought I would share some of the results with you this month.

netWith all modesty, I believe it’s safe to say that there probably isn’t a finish or style of design that I haven’t worked with to date. I began initially with clean, contemporary design devoid of surface ornamentation for the most part, segued into the “grand tour of Europe and Tuscany,” Country French, eclectic, Oriental, and on and on and returned as of late to the “now” look so popular in lofts and the visually striking contemporary residences springing up all over our valley. It’s clean, simple lines (but well executed) one more time! As the saying goes, “everything old is new again!”

Join me then on an abbreviated tour of my work and see the furniture and interiors that celebrities and discriminating clients have been enjoying for more than a quarter of a century. All designs are custom and made for the order and reflect my deep-seated belief that a good designer should listen, interpret what a client wants and needs, and then suggest and guide, never pushing a client beyond his or her comfort level. Still, if a client signs on to work with a designer, then design is what they should get!

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you may have concerning the designs shown here, or any help with design problems that you may be encountering with a client’s home.


Design is our focus whether it is in furniture or throughout the property. Style and grace are our watch words.

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Stephen Leon