The S.B. Questionnaire: Genny Cummings

Designing Life with the Owner of State Street's Indigo Fine Furnishings

Genny Cummings, owner of Indigo
Paul Wellman

Genny Cummings is an interior designer who, for the past 30 years, has owned the furnishings and design studio Indigo, which is right next to Opal Restaurant and Bar. One of the pleasures of walking past their storefront is that you will usually run into Genny or her husband, Tom, standing outside the door, waiting to greet you. Once you step inside, you’ll find yourself in a perfect oasis, filled with Asian influence and her serene sense of style.

Genny Cummings, owner of Indigo (April 11, 2014)
Paul Wellman

Genny devotes a lot of her free time to the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, participating in several of its committees, including the one in charge of the flags that adorn State Street weekly to salute various Santa Barbara organizations. Genny was rightfully awarded the George Gerth Award for Volunteer of the Year this past January.

She stopped designing to answer the Proust Questionnaire.

What do you like most about your job?

I’m a design junkie. My job is collaborating with people and together we expect to create a beautiful, comfortable, and functional living environment that I hope will inspire their daily lives. Most often we succeed. And in the best of circumstances, this transformation can transcend my clients’ original idea of home. In fact, it often becomes a metaphor for their lives: tearing down and rebuilding. Wow! It’s powerful stuff. This kind of interaction becomes addicting; besides, it’s just a great way to spend my work days.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Isn’t that the ultimate question? I believe in thousands of moments of perfect happiness rather than one big momentous event; that perfect sunset on a perfect vacation; the perfect kiss over, and over again; watching children and puppies; instantaneous laughter. These moments reveal genuine happiness every time.

What is your greatest fear?

Oh, I could say losing my health, losing my family, dying a slow, painful death? Really, I never think of being afraid. I’ve had a very fortunate life. I don’t remember ever being afraid, but maybe I just chose not to remember it.

Who do you most admire?

There are so many heroes to admire. Again, it’s difficult to pick one single person. I know I greatly admired my father, who was very dear to me. This man was loved by all yet completely unaware of it. He was always generous with himself, with his vast knowledge of the way things worked, and always with humor. His greatest gift was to make others feel good about themselves.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Sunday afternoons, after our house chores are done and my husband’s putsing in his art studio, sitting in front of the fire, or on the patio with my sweet dog, reading a book and sipping a good Scotch.

What is your current state of mind?

At this time I’m reflecting on the past 30 years of Indigo, where we’ve come from and where we are now. The dilemma is to know, with clarity, where we go from here. Business at large is at a crossroads, as are people’s changing shopping preferences. What’s the next evolution of our retail showroom? Where are the businesses of retail and interior design going in general and how does Indigo Interiors fit into this new world fueled by technologies??? Whew! There’s a lot to chew on. I’m certain it will all lead to new roads — big change. It’s a little nerve-racking but exciting at the same time!

What is the quality you most like in people?

If I have to decide on just one quality that I most like, it would be an open and flexible mind. Being able to see the big picture is our only true way to promote a positive society and high quality of life.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

My least favorite quality then would be small-mindedness.

What do you most value in friends?

The one big word that covers all the rest is love. Love is the result of common ground, trust, faith, endurance, humor, and all the other qualities that build friendships. Those who love also own all the rest of it.

What is your most marked characteristic?

How does anyone really know one’s own most marked characteristic? If you asked those around us, you would certainly get many different answers. I would like to think it’s my optimism, or perhaps it’s more idealism. My husband might say naivety, but I have a lot of faith in the world.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Interesting.” It’s become a joke. I really need to study a thesaurus so I can impress people with a vast stock of interesting vocabulary.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to either play an instrument or sing magnificently. What joy to live a life of music! Maybe next time around.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would love to be a clever and witty speaker. I have a hard time verbalizing my thoughts. Or an aesthetic where words aren’t necessary.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement might be my 33 years of marriage. Or it could be my 30 years of working Indigo. I do like to challenge myself. If nothing else, I have staying power.

Where would you most like to live?

I would love to live in many other beautiful places, but honestly, I can’t think of any other place better than right here. Life is good!


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