A True Design Advocate

Marla Baker is a business development specialist who shines when connecting luxury brands and services with the architecture and design communities

Marla Baker is a business development specialist who shines when connecting luxury brands and services with the architecture and design communities. She’s an absolute mainstay in the design world and is even known as the “designer whisperer.” Here’s what she told us about her new business venture and the learnings from her two recent appearances at the Interior Design Show.

Living Luxe: How long have you been involved in Canada’s design industry?
Marla Baker: I’ve been engaged with the design community for about 20 years, and I’ve always been in sales, bringing luxury products to architects and designers, but always in a way where I’m supporting the design community. I know what designers need, whether it’s continuing education, seminars or exposure. And I not only sell them on beautiful brands they can incorporate into their design, but I help them with what they need. I recently opened up my own sales agency, marlabaker.ca, where I’m representing brands and supporting the community. It’s been quite the journey.

LL: You recently appeared at the Interior Design Show (IDS). Tell us about it.
MB: When the producers of IDS found out I started my own agency, they wanted to support me and asked me to moderate two seminars. We’ve been collaborating together for years. I brought together brands and gave them the opportunity for visibility on panels to promote and elevate themselves. My first seminar was on the future of kitchen design with sustainability in mind. I immediately thought of some impressive luxury brands,
such as Aquavato, that would really work well for the topic, so I asked Krystal McNaughton to join us. Then I thought about other brands that would also fit the bill, such as SKS Signature Kitchen Suite Appliances (a premium division of LG), and considered who could give them the right representation on the panel. For SKS, I knew Jane Lockhart would be the perfect fit. So, she was one of my panelists with Krystal, and

I was also pleased to have Amy Medeiros from Irpinia Kitchens join us. We had almost 200 people join in, and we looked at kitchen design planning, how new products align with a whole building life-cycle approach, as well as the latest kitchen necessities and improvement strategies facing designers today. It showed attendees that sustainability can be incorporated into good design; people were really happy to learn that.

LL: And your second seminar?
MB: It was all about aging in place, and included Sara Walsh-Rooney from Savaria, Donna Church from Kohler and Linda Kafka, one of Canada’s leading experts on aging in place — she runs the LivABLE Network. People who joined the discussion learned why an ageless design plan approach is so important for the new aging customer, the products and design plans that will inspire multigenerational and multi-abled living, as well as how to prepare clients to easily navigate their homes and experience beautiful design in their spaces. It was also well attended, and we gave designers a lot to think about.

LL: What are you working on now?
MB: I’m busy with my new business, and I am working on a few future collaborations that I can’t wait to reveal toward the end of the year.