Five things we learned to say yes to from Kristina Zanic

by | 30 Jun 2021 | Products

Interior design icon Kristina Zanic goes on The Wood Couture Podcast

Kristina Zanic shares her experiences in life and work with Wood Couture co-founder Filippo Sona. We learn from her openness, authenticity and perseverance.

Wood Couture just launched its new podcast with a series interviewing big names in the hospitality, leisure and design industry. Filippo Sona, Wood Couture co-founder and host of the show, meets with industry rock stars to pick their brains, discover who they are, where they started, the passions that drive them and their insights on some current issues.

The pilot episode features multi-award-winning designer, icon and overall awesome person Kristina Zanic. The full video is up on YouTube and all podcast platforms, but we’ve put together five things we learned to say yes to from Zanic.

1. Say yes to experience

Be open to new and unusual experiences and be bold enough to explore the unfamiliar. Right out of university, Zanic left her home country of Australia to pursue her career. She continued to do so until travel became an integral part of her identity and creative process. The same openness to different places and cultures has carried over into her projects as well as the unique challenges she and her team come across. Often, if not always, Zanic takes on work at odd locations, which brings her to encounter people in a wider perspective. These experiences add a layer to her already incredible creativity in the way she carries out her business and in mentoring younger professionals.

2. Say yes to using emotion the right way

“Think before you speak or write that email” – Zanic cautions the pitfalls of saying or doing something in the height of emotion as one of the hard lessons she had to learn. However, she also talks about using emotions to serve a purpose. Creatives design to evoke feelings and Zanic encourages designing from your emotions as well as listening closely to what clients need. Having empathy and consideration in working within client’s wants and limitations and then the ultimate user’s experience has made for successful and award-winning projects. Such as in the refurbishment of The Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi in the UAE, which won Hotel Interior Design of the Year in 2018

3. Say yes to progress

When asked what drives her, Zanic speaks about how she believes in persevering through what life or work brings you and genuinely loving what you do. She recalls a time that the lack of construction materials had made the project pivot to creating things out of mud, and just taking it from there to make the project a success. Often, the most rewarding things come from what challenged us the most and it takes tenacity to keep on moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Zanic instils the same in her team – business moves forward when everyone grows together. She encourages younger professionals to spend more time to learn and keep learning through the thick and thin of their working life.

4. Say yes to practicality

Zanic shares how she feels the words value engineering are like swear words in the industry. Cost-cutting exercises or trying to do too much without proper costs sometimes cause avoidable friction in a project. She recommends that clients know their budgets and be transparent about it right off the bat. This way, designers and suppliers can work together to meet the requirements, which creates an ecosystem where the design vision will not be watered down via value engineering. Zanic also considers the practical side for the end user – how people use and experience her designs, making sure of functionality when speaking to clients about their requirements. She describes how the design industry is still exploring spaces and is always looking for ways to cater to changing wants and needs. Sustainability, for example, is becoming a more relevant consideration. Zanic’s team extends practicality into the execution of their designs by carefully integrating practices for less social and environmental impact.

5. Say yes to fellowship

Throughout the interview, it was evident how genuine a person Zanic really is, and it’s no wonder she is able to cultivate good relationships with both her clients and staff. She jokes how her stature is just naturally commanding but asserts that giving her honest opinions and occasionally challenging the client when appropriate helps her earn their respect and trust. Zanic nurtures the relationships she has with her staff even more. She sees herself as a team member at the end of the day and does not let being THE BOSS become a barrier for anyone to approach her to voice ideas, ask for advice or present questions.

There’s still so much more from the interview that you will love and be inspired by. We highly recommend you check it out!





Wood Couture is a 21st-century supplier with a mission of manufacturing and delivering quality at the right price. The brand was born in 2017 from the restructuring of a two-generation family business carrying 27 years’ experience in custom-made furniture for the hospitality and high-end residential sector from Italy and Miami to the Middle East.