Q & A: Getting to Know the Top with Nathan Thomas
From the start of this season’s Top Design, one designer stuck out as the obvious front-runner to us. With stints at Alexandra Champalimaud & Associates and NathanEgan Interiors, New York-based designer Nathan Thomas displayed an approach to design that would enhance any loft. Following a well-deserved win on the Bravo series, he has now launched his own eponymous design firm, Nathan Thomas Studios.
We had the opportunity to ask this season’s Top Design winner a few questions about his artistic sensibility.
LoftLife: First things first: Season One’s finale was a loft challenge and you were tasked with a nondescript townhouse. Which kind of space do you prefer to work with?
Nathan Thomas: In comparing both finale spaces, the loft of Season One and the townhouse of Season Two, I would have to say that the loft speaks to me more in a designer’s vocabulary versus a townhouse. I find the architecture of cast iron or old warehouse with soaring windows to be full of personality and possibility.
The bones of a real loft space are historical, and conjure up ideas of modernity and sophistication. I tend to view architecture of the late 19th century and its prospects of re-purpose as so relevant today. Although I was very happy with outcome of my town home in the finale, I feel I only achieved that by channeling an idea of a more architectural spirit. It was a builder’s home, void of character and personality. This is the true test of a designer/decorator, however. The ability to look beyond what may be a dull and vacant space and transform that into something special and unique.
LL: Your artwork tends to be such a striking focal point. What draws you to a piece? When do you work it into the design process, at the beginning or the end?
NT: When decorating interior spaces, whether they be commercial, residential, private, or public, artwork plays such a crucial role in the outcome and total package. I have always been deeply connected to art and have never felt like a room should be designed around art. Rather, the art is the piece de la resistance, the bonus, the firework!
LL: How did your philosophy surrounding artwork play itself out on the show?
NT: During the filming of this show, I shopped my artwork prior to finishing a space. What I tried to do was really search out the personality of work – look for pieces that spoke volumes to me and that I knew would have great visual impact. As you saw in my townhouse, I incorporated both kinetic sculptures and paintings, plus a painting that I actually created!
LL: Which designers have you admired or have inspired you along the way?
NT: Good question! I draw inspiration in so many ways. Fashion designers are also a huge part of my “sketchbook.” I have always looked to the classic houses of Hermès, Balenciaga, and YSL for strong ideas and classic elements but enjoy the cutting edge viewpoint of Viktor & Rolf and Comme des Garçons.
Fashion and Interiors are an intermingled industry. I find interior designers and decorators are constantly drawing cues from the fashion world. However, the classic interiors of Mario Buatta and Larry Laszlo are also wonderful springboards for any designer to look to for inspiration. Their interiors are graceful, well thought out, and memorable.
LL: What are your favorite online sources of design inspiration?
NT: I have recently been introduced to Design*Sponge. Fantastic site full of ideas, resources, and inspiration.
(Above: Loud art packs a punch in this office project from Nathan’s previous firm, NathanEgan Interiors)
LL: Any exciting projects we can expect from you next, as well as with the launch of Nathan Thomas Studios?
NT: Absolutely! Stay tuned for some new work to be posted on my website. I am finishing a great salon called DELUXE in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a very young, hip, fashionable space with a lot of attitude and personality. The space is loft-like with some great details. I commissioned an artist to do a very large over-scaled wall painting that reads very “street” inspired. Also, I am launching a line of custom upholstered chairs that are growing in popularity and will be more readily available soon. I am working on decorating an apartment on lower Fifth Ave for an important fashion executive. It’s been tons of fun through use of color and repurposing old furniture. Stay tuned to the website Nathan Thomas Studios as it is ever expanding.
For a recap of the whole season, check out Bravo’s Top Design here.
Posted by Erin Ryder