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Written by: Heather Nash
Photos by: Heather Nash Photography

Nestled in a neighborhood northeast of downtown Detroit is the home of Rachel Nelson, one half of the interior design duo, RL Concetti. With an emphasis on commercial and residential design, Rachel and her business partner Lauren DeLaurentiis are a rapidly growing design team intent on inspiring and instilling their bold, dramatic and playful style upon the up and coming Detroit design scene.

Popping over to Rachel’s two-story cape cod home for coffee & pastries, I was given the complete tour of her unique, eclectic space, designed by herself with the help of Lauren. The dining room showcases a beautiful granite topped tulip table surrounded by several Panton chairs, while the wall behind it boasts colorful, geometric wallpaper; a true statement and testament to Rachel’s aesthetic. Her gold ceilinged office features a plush antique sofa, reupholstered in a blue crushed velvet. A carefully placed mid-century modern globe light fixture hangs over the sofa, completing the space and giving it a polished, opulent finish. Two friendly American Bulldog rescues curiously trail behind Rachel as she shows me around, eventually finding themselves ushered outside to bask in the unseasonably warm spring morning.

We spent the majority of our time getting to know one another and discussing the pair’s background and goals for the future. RL Concetti formed about a year ago and Lauren speaks to their excitement about being a part of the ongoing revival happening in the Detroit area. They define their style as a mix of contemporary pieces with classic silhouettes, vintage with new, and a unique incorporation of unexpected pops of color, layers and textures. Referring back to Rachel’s gold ceiling color choice in her office, they highlighted the challenge that it presented, a design risk turned into a successful element that could be utilized again for a future client. They spoke of their dream of doing large scale design work for a new restaurant, a goal that could be closer to a reality given the commercial boom happening throughout the area. Until then, no project is too small for Rachel & Lauren as they continue to earn rave reviews from each client they work with.

Lastly, I joined the two at their newly acquired office space, still a work in progress, in an old Albert Kahn factory building located a few blocks from the Detroit River. Lauren and Rachel shared their large concept board, filled with fabric & paint swatches, room layouts and inspirational images that they update and use with each client. We then spent a bit of time exploring one of the building’s cavernous industrial floors, filled with covered vehicles gathering dust, each having been brought up in a giant freight elevator and stored over the years. The building is currently undergoing extensive renovations and will include work/live space in the future.

As we parted ways, I couldn’t help but share in the pair’s excitement about their future as a growing, successful small start up firm. The ups and downs and long days are intensely familiar to me as a small business owner. Not to mention the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with depending on a steady stream of clients who value the goods or services that you provide and will happily pay you your worth. Work/life balance tends to be extremely skewed towards work when it’s your business. Long hours are a given and the personal life component is often overlooked. But those inconveniences are often outshined by the thrill of freedom, creativity and the ability to steer your own course for the future and I wish Lauren and Rachel the best as they continue to create beautiful, lasting design in our little corner of Michigan.

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