Finding Their Material
As the Manager of Operations for Interior Felt, Damian Ali plays a major role in bringing designers’ felt-filled visions to life. Interior Felt manufactures 100% wool felt that is made to feel and is a beautiful addition to any space. With designs for walls and ceilings, these unique art pieces have enhanced all kinds of spaces, from offices to retail environments to schools.
Hi Damian! Can you tell us more about Interior Felt and how the company started?
Interior Felt is the newest division of a well-established felt manufacturer that originated in Germany and spread to Canada and the United States. Our focus is on supporting the Architecture and Design industry while leaning on our group’s 75 years of experience in the material. We started off very small but have been picking up traction ever since. We have recently found enough momentum to warrant a re-branding effort and new website. Our team is growing and we are constantly exploring new ideas and ways we can show off our material.
What is your favorite part of your current role?
I’m fortunate that my role allows me to dabble a little bit in everything. Between project management, networking and product presentations, as well as fabrication and development, my favourite part would be working with architects and designers and discussing creative concepts in early stages. It is a great opportunity to flex my own creative muscles and inform the industry on just how versatile and impressive wool felt can be for design.
Who do you feel you have learned the most from, so far in your career?
A tie between my partner in my personal life, and Interior Felt’s director in regards to my professional path. Having trusted, high value individuals surrounding you is an absolute gift. To be able to think out loud and bounce ideas off of someone who challenges you while also supporting your journey to success is important in growing yourself and your business. I learn something every day while we share in each other’s successes and work through learning in the midst of a misstep. You can become a brave version of yourself when you are supported in such a way.
What is your favorite project you have been apart of so far?
One of the most challenging but rewarding projects I have worked on so far was a project for Microsoft that was going on in North Carolina. This was my first taste of just how important it was to collaborate with the designers for a custom project. The project was calling for long screens to be installed onto a custom track system that would allow the panels to rotate to expose/close-off a space. The initial design was quite simple and standard—but it evolved into an experimental idea to see abstract shapes when up close to the screen, but as you move further away it would become a scene of trees. It really pushed our teams (and our equipment) to their limits, but it really showed us what we could do, and the final installation looks fantastic.
What is your favorite part of working with designers?
In the past I have worked in different creative fields such as photography, graphic design, illustration, set design and theatre, as well as some functional interior design. Working with designers through Interior Felt allows me to delve into a lot of that experience and get involved in creative processes with extremely talented individuals whom I otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with. Many of them have worked with felt in some way, but not often through custom work. As we deem ourselves the experts in felt, it is great to collaborate with designers and really show them just how creative we can be and how far their imaginations can go.
Last new thing you learned, go!
I don’t have a specific ‘new thing’ I have learned but as we expand our team I have learned a lot from our new members. Anything from systematic and organizational help to just different perspectives and approaches to executing our work. Everyone’s experience whether in or out of the industry can come in handy. We get really creative with how we problem solve and plan ahead and I learn something every day from the people around me.
Any exciting new projects on the horizon?
Many of our projects are confidential prior to completion, but there are a few potential projects that we are working hard to secure, as well as a few projects that we have been developing with designers that are coming to a point of realization. There is nothing more satisfying than looking at the physical version of something you have mostly seen in concept drawings.