Michele Fanning, NCIDQ

Principal Designer

As a young girl, Michele would visit her mother while she worked at an interior design firm in Del Mar, California. It was there, amid the piles of colorful samples and an atmosphere of creative professionals, that she developed her passion for design. Most of the designers in the firm had earned their degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Michele came to the Central Coast in 1979 to explore the area and immediately feel in love with the natural beauty. This was the beginning of her love affair with the Central Coast.

After graduating from Cal Poly, with her degree in interior design, she moved to San Francisco to work for a showroom that specialized in German and Italian kitchens and baths. Working for the Europe-based firm opened her eyes to the international world of design. She spent time working in the European factory and at the International Furniture Faire in Colgone, Germany. The firm gave her the confidence to work in the luxury market of high-end homes for diverse personalities and gave her a deep appreciation of global cultures and design styles.

In 1991, Michele felt the pull of the Central Coast. She craved the open spaces and small-town feel. She realized she loves visiting cities more than living in them, so she moved back and established Design Collaborative where she is a respected leader in her field.   

Her designs have been featured in European Homes and Gardens Magazine, Sunset Magazine, and Food and Wine Magazine, to name a few. She has earned International Design Competition awards and won a First-Place honor from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Michele has also consulted for major brands such as Kohler and Viking in their pursuit of excellence. In 2007 she was licensed by the National Council on Interior Design Qualifications. Michele keeps current on product trends by attending trade shows and markets all over the world; it’s a great excuse to travel.  

It was that first trip to Germany in 1986 that started her passion of traveling to cultivate ideas for her designs. Michele’s favorite part of her job is learning about people and businesses in order to make their new spaces a place they will be content and flourish. She also enjoys space planning of a new project: which could have something to do with her love of wooden puzzles and finding the perfect fit.  

If she doesn’t have her eyes on the latest travel blog to find the next new hotel to visit, she is learning a new recipe or spending time outdoors with her Labrador Retrievers exploring trails and beaches.