Company History - Sylvia T Designs. Plaster. Decorative Plaster. Decorative Arts. Functional Plaster. Murals. Gilding. Stencils. Cabinetry and Furniture Refinishing. New Orleans. Baton Rouge. Gulf South.
Sylvia Thompson-Dias - Founder and Co-Owner of Sylvia T Designs in an historic New Orleans Creole Cottage in the French Quarter in front of her plaster work.

Master Artisan Sylvia Thompson-Dias – Founder and Co-Owner of Sylvia T Designs

Sylvia started the business in 1995 with a vision to develop a decorative arts company. Having a degree in architecture, Sylvia focused on the historical and design aspects of the profession. Having trained in fine art painting, Sylvia had a great sense of color which helped shape the finishes she developed. The business started one small project at a time as a one-woman-show in residential properties. This lasted until early 2000 when her first part-time employee was hired.

Sylvia Thompson of Sylvia T Designs - the early years.
Sylvia Thompson of Sylvia T Designs - the early years.

Sylvia continued to train and worked to consistently develop unique finishes to add to the services she provided.

Sylvia Thompson of Sylvia T Designs - mural work.

A key turning point for growth started in 2016 when Sylvia T Designs was awarded a large plaster project in a historic Creole Cottage in the French Quarter. When this project was completed, it led to more work on historic properties in New Orleans. Being inside these amazing historic structures and seeing the lack of proper restoration spurred Sylvia to learn plaster repair, which expanded the company’s offerings into functional as well as decorative finishes. In 2017, Sylvia went to Pennsylvania to train in historic plaster repair and restoration. This is when plaster finishes became a focus of the company.

Sylvia T Designs - Plaster work in an historic French Quarter Creole Cottage.
Sylvia T Designs - Plaster work in an historic French Quarter Creole Cottage's kitchen in New Orleans.

“Honoring Tradition and Progress”

Sylvia T Designs - work at the Historic New Orleans Collection's Seignouret-Brulatour House in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

In 2019, Sylvia T. Designs had two full time employees in addition to Bryan Dias, Sylvia’s husband, who joined the company full time that same year. Bryan plays an important role in the marketing, development, and strategic planning of the company as well as other behind the scenes aspects of the business. With the growth of the company, new branding was developed including a new logo, updated website, and more active, professional social media campaigns. Additionally, a tagline, “Make Your Space a Work of Art,” was added along with the motto and hashtag, “#HonoringTraditionandProgress.” Messaging, including concepts of only using artisan level products and working on projects that are “commercial and residential, large and small, and in historic and new construction” started to be consistently utilized. These efforts significantly increased the exposure of Sylvia T Designs, leading to more projects of various scales in differing settings.

As a woman working in the male dominated field of construction, Sylvia and her team gained respect on job sites due to their skill and work ethic. Sylvia wanted to create a pathway for women in construction and the decorative arts. In 2022, She and Bryan developed an artisan training and career development program while maintain their commitment to an all-female artisan applicator team. New employees are hired as “Artisan Assistants.” When they learn the necessary skills for producing the company’s services, they are promoted to “Artisan Apprentice.” In this role, they continue to develop their knowledge of the company’s offerings, increase their application abilities, gain product knowledge, and develop project management abilities. After satisfying these requirements, they are then promoted to full “Artisan.” In addition to the above, team members are encouraged and required to gravitate towards differing, specialized aspects of the business which they are passionate about. Thus, furthering their career development and enhancing the effectiveness of what Sylvia T Designs offers to clients.

Sylvia T Designs - Plastering the ceiling of a dining area in an historic New Orleans French Quarter residence.
Sylvia T Designs - Finished look of a dining area in an historic New Orleans French Quarter residence.
Sylvia T Designs - Gilding, Gold Leaf in an Uptown New Orleans historic home.
Sylvia T Designs - Gilding, Gold Leaf in an Uptown New Orleans historic home.

In 2023, the company hired two additional female team members. Due to our high-level, quality work and the greatly increased reputation of Sylvia T Designs, the company had two major materials producers reach out seeking our involvement as product distributors and trainers. One of the companies is Stucco Italiano, a leading lime-based plaster and decorative arts supply company located in Vicenza, Italy. The other company, Topcret, is based in Barcelona, Spain and is a global leader in microcement materials. Microcement is very popular in Europe and only beginning to show up in the United States. We are ahead of the curve. As we moved forward with these relationships, our sister business, Gulf Coast Plaster Artisans, LLC was formed in 2023.

The Sylvia T Designs team applying Tadelakt plaster to a residential shower.
Master Plaster Artisan, Sylvia Thompson-Dias instructs a team member on Tadelakt plaster application in a residential shower.
Sylvia T Designs - Finished look of the Tadelakt plaster shower in a residential bathroom.

In June 2021, Sylvia T Designs moved from our original shop into a larger space located in central New Orleans. Our space serves as a workshop where samples are produced, meetings take place, and other decorative arts work occurs. Additionally, it is a showroom where current and prospective clients can visit, see various plasters and other samples, and learn about options for their project. We also conduct education seminars and training in the space. Lastly, it serves as our distribution warehouse for Gulf Coast Plaster Artisans, LLC.

Sylvia T Designs - Two of our Artisans working on plaster samples in our New Orleans shop space.
Sylvia T Designs - Master Plaster Artisan, Sylvia Thompson-Dias, instructs two of our Artisan Apprentices proper plaster application on sample boards in our New Orleans shop and showroom.
Sylvia T Designs - Two of our team members paint our logo on the bay door of our New Orleans shop, showroom, and distribution warehouse.

Over the years, Sylvia T Designs has cultivated a tremendous reputation based on our experience, vision, and quality of work. Our product knowledge and artistry are unparalleled. We are the leading decorative arts company in the broader Gulf South region offering services that, in many instances, are not available from others in the business. We are the only company in the region that offers functional plaster finishes and microcement. In addition to our expert plaster and microcement work, the company also offers a broad array of decorative arts services including gilding, murals, faux finishing, stenciling, cabinetry and furniture refinishing, and much more.

Sylvia T Designs - Our team of all female artisan applicators in 2024.
Sylvia T Designs - Master Artisan and company founder and co-owner looks out over the city of New Orleans during a project working on an historic building's facade in the Lower Garden District.

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