Yoselin Alonso has long understood that interior design is more than surface aesthetics. Growing up with a dad who works in construction, she started to learn the ins and outs of the industry early on.
By the time she got to college, she already knew how to take down a door, put on a baseboard and build stairs. “My dad always pushed us to know more than you’re expected to know at a young age,” Alonso says. When he’d finish a project, he’d hand his daughter the blueprints and let her have at it. Like many kids who grow up to practice architecture or design, she’d spend hours playing with LEGOs, trying to recreate her dad’s floorplans. Her mom’s work as a seamstress solidified Alonso’s hunger for creativity: “I always liked to work with my hands.”
Hands-on is a key descriptor for her role at METHOD & CONCEPT, where she works alongside Chad Jensen to conceive design projects. The work stretches beyond selecting finishes and furnishings. “There are a lot of misconceptions about interior design,” Alonso says, adding that while she was studying at the University of Florida, the faculty was talking about changing the interior design program’s name to interior architecture. “That’s really what it is: We develop the layout, work on the electrical engineering—ultimately, it’s everything that has to do with the functionality of the space.”
This is especially true at METHOD & CONCEPT, a sister company of the Thomas Riley Artisans’ Guild. Run by Jensen, the company doubles as a design studio and a gallery for emerging and midcareer artists. “There aren’t a lot of places that think about design and art as a cohesive whole,” Alonso says. In all of their projects, artisanship plays a key role and spaces are planned to emphasize the artworks. Jensen and Alonso may turn to Thomas Riley to create custom furnishings or millwork to achieve a specific vision or fulfill a certain function, or conceive a room around a piece of art that the homeowner loves. “We use the artists as part of the design process,” she says.
Working with Jensen, Alonso is involved in every step of the process, from helping conceive designs to attending client meetings and site visits to ordering materials to creating the plans. She’s especially apt at creating 3D renderings of projects–something Jensen says was missing until Alonso came around. She’s also helping develop METHOD & CONCEPT’s proprietary line of soft goods, slated to debut next season.
When he was looking to fill the associate interior designer position, Jensen admits he was looking for a unicorn. He was drawn to Alonso for her appreciation of art and design, her grit and the dualities in her personality. “She presents herself so polished and well-spoken, but then you see her driving and loading a pick-up truck and wanting to get her hands dirty,” he says. The two speak a similar language, with projects guided by intentionality—considering how the person will feel in each space, how the space is used, and how any given scene in the home changes throughout the day. In Alonso, Jensen also finds an essential trait that is hard to teach: sincere passion for the craft and eagerness to learn. After a long week at the gallery. The young designer is eager to go into the studio on weekends to learn from Jensen, who is also a practicing artist and maker, creating furniture and functional art objects.
When she thinks about her personal creative pursuits, Alonso often draws inspiration from her parents’ native Mexico, recalling places like Las Pozas, a surrealist garden by Edward James, located in the mountains of Xilitla, with only one road in and out. “There are so many beautiful places in Mexico that people don’t even know about,” she says. “That inspires me—the sense of discovery.”
And, that’s what she aims to capture in her work. At 27, Alonso is quickly developing her style. Jensen and the METHOD & CONCEPT team are a powerful influence, as is the pull to be close to family in Bonita Springs. “This is the place and spot, and exactly where I want to be,” she says.