Posts Tagged ‘Q & A’
Up-in-coming interior designer Ryan Korban recently launched a website showcasing a selection of his projects to date which span from commercial to residential and other various interiors in between. Clients including downtown designer Alexander Wang, actor James Franco, model Natasha Poly and the stylish daughter’s of Danielle Steel–Victoria & Vanessa Traina, in addition to shopping go-to’s Barneys and Opening Ceremony, have all turned to the young designer for a classy, curated space that incorporates traditional English design elements fused with ornate and rich modern pieces. Creating an upscale yet functional space that is both polished and un-stuffy is the designer’s specialty, and his unique approach is one we’re excited to watch evolve.
LoftLife: As a traditionally untrained designer, what led you to this field?
Ryan Korban: I have always been drawn to the arts whether it was fashion, theater, or fine arts. My desire for creating environments was something that I was born with. Whether it was doing the table scape for my mother’s dinner parties or coming up with a concept for the Christmas tree every year. My desire to actually be an interior designer didn’t develop until I was older, but my passion for atmosphere was always there. Once I entered university at the New School, I had realized that creating full environments was what I wanted to do. Even at that point I didn’t want to go to school for it. I was more interested in having an academic degree. For me design is not about drafting living rooms in a classroom, but learning about the past. A perfected yet untrained eye has always been what inspires me. I studied European history and art and my liberal arts degree taught me more about how to create an alluring environment than studying floor plans would have.
In my senior year of school I was ready to exercise my skills so I designed my first commercial space while I was in school.This was a store I opened with a friend. What better way to start than having the challenge of creating a store? It had to be such an alluring space that people would want to buy something in it. Edon Manor really was a collection of everything I had studied and learned, from the rare book collection to the china collections, it supported my ideas of creating an academic space. Also my informal training lent itself as I was able to create a residential design for a commercial space. I hate how stuck America design is. In Europe the lines between commercial and residential are totally blurred and I am so drawn to that. So Edon Manor really was my first ever project.
LL: What finally led you to launch a website?
RK: I work with a very specific group of people and this is very important to me in order to create a body of work that feels different than what we have seen before. I really felt that the interior world was making little effort to try new things and as I saw the publications dropping (Domino, House and Garden, Metropolitan Home, Vogue Living) I realized that there lack of change and risk was really hurting the industry. This is why I am so drawn to the fashion world and the people in it. There is something new and relevant going on all the time. I feel a huge disconnect when I look at a lot of the interior publications. I work with CFDA winners, actors who have been in Academy Award nominated movies, and models who have been in couture shows and they don’t even live like the people do in Architectural Digest. I think the interior world is so fixed on square footage, I am more concerned with creating something fresh and sexy. I don’t feel any sex appeal in the interior world. So I thought it was time to publish my small, but precise body of work under my own name which is now the website.
LL: You have a strong fashion following, in addition to co-owning/designing Tribeca’s Edon Manor. How do you see fashion tastes crossing over with interior style?
RK: Working within the fashion world is so inspiring. It’s young, it’s fresh and it’s glamorous. All the things I look to achieve when I create a space. I love working with designers and watching them grow into lifestyle brands and helping them do that. The connection is so there and so underutilized that it makes me angry. My fashion clients know so much about what kind of mood they want and how they want to feel in a space its amazing. They know about silhouettes and fabrics. They have such a new approach to the treatment of fabrics and furs because of clothing. The way they develop fabrics is so advanced compared to the interior industry. Even the older, experienced, and respected people in fashion still look to be sexy and of the time. This is what really draws me to their world and pushes me to create spaces that feel sexy and sophisticated.
LL: Good design should be accessible. As a young designer, with a young clientele, how do you see a new generation’s attitude toward working with an interior designer on their home and not just doing it on their own?
RK: For me it’s so easy. I love working in small spaces — it’s my passion. Anyone with money can buy an Upper East Side condo or a mansion in the Hamptons and make it look amazing. I am more interested in what you do with a 600-square-foot studio in SoHo or the East Village. My work is based on taste not size and I think that is the new approach to interiors and my clients share this approach. Young people, even young rich people want to live the way they dress. Not everything needs to be polished and precise. Working with young people makes my jog so exciting and challenging. It forces me to really focus on what we should invest in. I work with a lot of renters so it’s important that I give them furniture they will have for the rest of their lives. When I work with someone it is usually their first time to hire a designer; I’m always flattered that they come to me and its exciting to take their virginity.
LL: That said, what are your favorite spots for shopping on a budget?
RK: I love shopping at Flair, of course they have very expensive pieces, but you can also go in and get the best accessories for the home. You can get stunning crystal ashtrays for $150. I love flea markets and I am addicted to Housing Works online auctions.
LL: What design elements do you begin a project with?
RK: I always start with a mood, it could be a color, a scent, or a flower. I like to develop the feeling my clients want and the world that they want to live in. That is more important than any tangible element of design. I never feel confident choosing furniture until I know the exact mood they want to achieve. Working with the senses is how I always start.
LL: Traditional English design is a big influence in your aesthetic. What began your obsession?
RK: I’m drawn to an old world dark romance that is so hard to find these days. I think my obsession started with Sweeney Todd, Eliza Doolittle, and Oliver Twist as a kid. From there it expanded into Princess Diana, The Clash, Amy Winehouse, and Kate Moss. My partner (Davinia Wang) at Edon Manor is from London as well and we have spent so much time in Oxford and
Holland Park. The idea of tradition is so alive there and the idea of rock is also still so alive. The enormous gap between Brink Lane and Buckingham Palace is so fascinating to me. To have such highs and lows creates so much romance in so many different ways that I cant help but be inspired. Plus I have a large obsession with the Elizabethan era to think England has had women ruling for so many years and are such a strong and wealthy country is amazing. Especially when we think we are the progressive ones.
LL: What kinds of projects do you hope to work on down the line?
RK: I hope to just keep doing what I do now. I hope that I can help bring life to the interior world and most of all I hope we can start to see exciting things happen. I love the projects that I do whether its a store, showroom, home or even a baby shower for the future I just hope I can keep getting interesting work with inspiring people. A hotel wouldn’t hurt either. If I don’t learn something or find something new working with a client then I’ll know it wasn’t a success.
LL: Describe your ideal home, and where? Is there a city or neighborhood, decorating theme, etc.
RK: My ideal home wouldn’t reflect a time period or a design aesthetic, not even a neighborhood, but instead a complete fantasy. The design world is so obsessed with dates, times and eras I’m obsessed with the idea of walking into a space and feeling like you are in a whole other world that has never existed until that very moment. That’s my ideal home, it’s a bit of a fairy tale.
Q & A by Erin Ryder
Portrait by Tom Ackerman
Interior Photography by Susan Gilmore
LOFTLIFE: We loved your space at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Tell us about the vision you had, to keep it cohesive. Were you trying to keep the flow between the other designers in the house or did you have your own singular vision?
ANDREW FLESHER: I just had my own vision. That’s one of the great things about a show house. It’s similar to doing your own house in that you just don’t have any limitations. Nobody’s going to say, “You can’t do that.” When I designed the space for Kips Bay, the His master bathroom, the way I thought about it was: How would I like that space for myself. And basically that’s what I did; I created a bathroom that I would like.
LL: Your firm, Gunkelman Flesher, now has offices in New York and Minneapolis. Do you see a change in the taste of your clients from city to city?
ANDREW: Yeah, I think that people in Minneapolis are more conservative than people in New York. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to do some work in New York, because I felt creatively I needed a change, I needed to push myself a little further. And I didn’t feel like I was doing that so much in Minneapolis.
LL: How long ago was that?
ANDREW: That was just a year ago.
LL: Have you done any commercial spaces in New York yet?
ANDREW: I’ve been mostly residential. And you know, I would say probably 95% of my business is residential . I’d love to do restaurants, or a hotel!
LL: As you know, your gorgeous white loft back in Minneapolis got a lot of attention when we first posted pictures of it on our website. What was your thought process?
ANDREW: Well, I love white. I always wanted to do a place that had white floors, like a gallery space that shows objects really well. I was living in a conversion loft: brick walls, raw. There was a building going up down the street, so I checked it out. I found the floor plan really great, with 60 feet of glass across the front, floor to ceiling. I found the challenge of dividing the space and creating something in a glass cube very interesting. It was also part of my love of architecture, Mies’ Farnsworth House, Philip Johnson’s Glass House, that kind of thing. I always wanted to try it. So I did.
LL: Aside from the idea of mirroring a gallery space, tell us more about why white is your palette of choice.
ANDREW: It’s so pure. It’s a place for your eye to rest, I think. Your eye doesn’t have to break anything apart in a white space, it gives you this great backdrop to put pieces in that act as sculpture. Furniture in a white space is almost like art and that was my concept. I wanted a place to showcase the things I had collected over the years.
LL: Besides the obvious space challenge in New York, how was your experience transitioning to your home in Tribeca?
ANDREW: I think the great thing about New York is that there’s such a vast supply of resources—there’s really no reason why your place has to look like anybody else’s place! You can personalize your home so easily because there’s so much available.
LL: How did you get into interior design?
ANDREW: When I was a kid I always thought I would be an architect. I used to love to study house plans, and I’d always ask my mom and dad to buy me magazines. Then, I got into college and studied architecture for three years: It was more engineering, calculus, and physics . So, I switched; I just felt like interior design was much more for me, more creative and less about science and just more about creativity.
LL: What are the biggest challenges with keeping to a minimalist aesthetic, while also keeping a space functional for years to come?
ANDREW: Two things: You have to listen to your clients and observe how they live. I think sometimes clients don’t realize they need something to function. When I meet with clients, I like to ask them, “how do you live?” Rather than, “how tall do you want this vanity to be?” Or “How much storage space do you need in your kitchen?” Instead I ask, “How do you want your house to feel?” (They can generally) explain how they want it to feel, but they don’t know how they want it to look and that’s why they’ve hired me. So, you know, you want to be practical. You want to listen to how they use their house and how they live.
I always like to challenge my clients a little bit, but not beyond their comfort level. Because at the end of the day, it’s really my client’s house. It’s not mine; I’m not going to live there. But I want to really guide them to make the right decisions, so, that they are pleased with how it looks and how it functions when we’re done.
LL: Who, what, or where are your greatest sources of inspiration?
ANDREW: The way I design is I put a collection of pieces together. I love individual pieces for their own beauty, things that are classic and stand on their own. And then I love the combination of things so that there’s some surprise, some tension, some juxtaposition between materials, styles, and level of formality. I think it’s so important to know what’s happened in the past, to take that, and then use it in a new way. So it’s not that you want to copy anything or that you want to recreate something that’s done before, but you can’t really go forward unless you know what’s happened in the past. And I do think that all design, and all new design, is really an evolution of what’s happened in the past.
LL: Generally speaking, have you found that design sensibility is changing during this difficult financial environment?
ANDREW: I think that people are wanting good pieces that are going to last. The state of the world today is really influencing everybody. I think that people are just more thoughtful consumers then they used to be because (of this). One of the things that is interesting, I think, is what happened in the financial world last year, it has taken the pressure off of people to have to have the latest, the newest object.
LL: With the growth of LEED-certified buildings, and the quickly growing sustainable products (from fabric to paint) available to consumers, do you feel the need to incorporate more “green”?
ANDREW: Yes. People are definitely interested in it and in fact, we just won an award for a Gold LEED certified building that we did in Minneapolis. It was actually a beautiful, classical building, originally built as a library, and turned into a family foundation office. My thought about the whole “green” movement and the need to be thoughtful of the environment is very important to me. Yet, there’s also a balance between the environment being green and it also being beautiful, because I don’t believe in throwing away good design just at the cost of, or just for the sake of, being “green.” I’m looking forward to the future when we have really great products that we can use without compromising.
LL: So, let’s run through some of you “favorites” of the moment. How about color?
ANDREW: Always white.
ANDREW: I think I have to say Duane Antiques. They have a great eye, I think.
ANDREW: You know, I love white peonies, not pink, but white peonies.
ANDREW: I love American Clay’s color I used in the room at the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. Their sugarloaf white that was used on the walls has a really nice warm color, and it has such nice depth and dimension. I’m going to say that’s probably my new favorite. I am going to use it in a 12,000-sq-ft ski in/ski out project I’m doing in Deer Valley, Utah. We’re going to use it everywhere.
ANDREW: I love our stationary that we have for Gunkelmen Flescher because it’s very classic. It’s white, it’s embossed, and it has a shiny silver foil on the edge. Very clean. I use it all the time.
ANDREW: Wallpaper. I’m using a lot of grass cloths. I like grass cloths like Donghia. They make the most beautiful paper with back linens that’s very coarse. And I use it all the time. When you use it in your house, it’s almost like being in a gallery. And it makes a perfect backdrop for art and everything else.
LL: Accent piece?
ANDREW: An accent piece, how about a table I designed? It’s a little chrome, glass, and linen-wrapped drinks table that I use a lot with my clients.
ANDREW: Oh Mark Rothko is my all-time favorite. Mark Rothko and Joseph Albert.
LL: Is there any other news or projects you’d like to update us on?
ANDREW: I’ve been working on a furniture line that I’d like to shop around to see if somebody would like to manufacture it. So that’s sort of in the front of my head a lot. I think I’d like to get into some product design.
Interior designer and architect Campion Platt is widely known for pioneering the boutique hotel concept, serving as co-developer of Los Angeles’s Chateau Marmont Hotel, and spearheading a benchmark project in New York of the Mercer Hotel and Merc Bar. An equally impressive celebrity client roster includes Al Pacino, Meg Ryan, Roger Waters, Conan O’Brien, Jay McInerney, and socialite Anne Hearst. He consistently incorporates fine craftsmanship and contemporary styling as well as eco-sensitive design to achieve the clean, cohesive, yet personalized spaces his firm is respected for.
LoftLife: You’re on the forefront of sustainable architecture and green design. What are the easiest elements to bring in, from both an architectural and design standpoint?
Campion Platt: The easiest elements are switching out commonly used things like plywood for a sustainable version, lighting alternates that use less energy. From a design standpoint, consider buying second hand and giving something a new life.
LL: With hotel design credits including Chateau Marmont, Mercer Hotel and MercBar, as well as Boston’s Bulfinch Hotel do you find your residential clients like to bring a boutique hotel feeling into their homes and design an upscale atmosphere suited for entertaining?
CP: I think the greatest feature is actually employing the dictum “less is more” hotel environments tend to be paired down, essential and an eye to comfort, luxury and whimsy.
LL: Where are your favorite places to travel and draw inspiration at the moment?
CP: My wife, Tatiana, and I love to travel to Morocco, especially Marrakech. There is a wealth of design inspiration at every turn and a number of great craftspeople reinventing methods that fit our sense of design.
LL: LoftLife launched in Atlanta last year, and has since expanded nationally. We saw you recently worked on the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Buckhead, incorporating the historic Southern aesthetic with modern details. How did you combine the two styles, and what were your favorite elements?
CP: The idea in Atlanta was to create a real sense of place in a modern high-rise. I studied the city and culture and drew upon the rich and layered history of both design and icons. Combining the styles was more of an editing process to identify the key features that would blend well together. My favorite element was the cypress we used in the lobby. A traditional southern wood, but a used in a modern way.
LL: A 4,000 square-foot Soho duplex loft is the type of home our readers (and we) dream about, though designing a cohesive space can be an enormous challenge. It looks open, intimate, luxurious and comfortable. What was your original vision and where did it begin?
CP: It began with my wife saying “I want a white loft in the sky!” From there, all decisions were based upon modulating the rooms; space and scale to both accentuate the great height and verticality while maintaining a sense of intimacy and casual comfort one finds in small spaces.
LL: Tell us more about your custom furniture line and the types of pieces you have created or hope to include at some point.
CP: I am working on a few new custom lines now. We are designing a contemporary and more urban collection for McGuire Furniture, an industry leader in luxury exterior furnishings. In addition, we are also working on capsule collection for George Smith, the English based purveyor of fine upholstered furniture based upon early American examples of popular furniture.
LL: How have you seen your clients taste and/or need change over the twenty years you’ve been a designer?
CP: I believe most of the client needs have remained the same except for the newer notion of a great room and/or incorporating a kitchen/dining room experience into a project. A wonderful change has also been, in general, the level of sophistication among the clients, both residential and commercial. The internet has informed us all in a more specialized way based upon our interests. Clients bring this information to the table and really help the design process.
Posted by Erin Ryder
Photography by Scott Frances
When we heard established fashion designer Angel Sanchez would be collaborating with his partner, noted designer Christopher Coleman, we knew the results would not be your run-of-the-mill interior styling. Debuting with a game room at this year’s Kips Bay Decorators Show House, the duo has been working on a series spaces together. In addition to the showroom, there was a table with DIFFA’s Dining by Design event, as well as a Flat Iron District restaurant, not to mention their shared Williamsburg loft-condo in the works.
Equally complimentary of one another, Coleman says, “A collaboration is a wonderful exchange of ideas. But becomes even more intense when passion and creativity meet. Our loft lounge for Kips Bay show house is a fusion of our two talents; design and fashion, refined… edited. But a space with style, personality and playfulness, which is a big part of ‘us’.”
As for Sanchez, “Working with Chris is like to play a fun ping pong game of ideas…..where in the end it is so satisfying to see the results. We get in a place where he or I won’t get there by ourselves… it shows us a new version of our own individual taste. I enjoy seeing the balance between his colorful version of a space and my clean architectural vision… that is the reason we want now to explore it outside our personal living projects.”
LoftLife: Based on both of your respective backgrounds in design, what was the hardest part of combining Angel’s architectural knowledge with elements of fashion and Chris’s understanding of space and of interior design?
AS + CC: The hardest part is having patience with each other, and understanding scale takes time to learn.
LL: The Kip’s Bay loft-lounge space is for the “stay at home recessionista to work, relax, and play.” Is there currently a market for a $65,000 steel ping pong table? We’d love to know.
AS + CC: Yes there is a market – we have received a dozen calls for the steel ping pong table.
LL: You worked together on Angel’s showroom. His line includes elegant evening wear as well as bridal, and clients include celebrities. What was the vision for the showroom, and how was it kept functional as a workspace?
AS + CC: The vision was to make it sexier and sleeker than his previous showroom which was all celadon walls, carpet and curtains, lots of curtains. So the new showroom is all black and white, very graphic and bolo! It flows well as a workspace, it’s open and well planned out.
LL: Tell us about the restaurant you’re working on in the Flatiron District. What type of Latin influence can diners expect?
AS + CC: Nuella is the restaurant we are working on together, it’s a very large space, so we are trying to make it intimate by defining various areas. Colors are hot yellow and firey red with black. Interesting materials.
LL: We hear you’re finishing up your home in Williamsburg. Was it hard to not bring work into your home?
AS + CC: Our Williamsburg space, we live and breathe design, so it’s just a continuation of everyday, the nice part about home, is it is a laboratory to try things.
LL: What do you find is the most important, or first thing clients ask for when designing a space?
AS + CC: Most important thing when designing a space is who is occupying the space, what is their use of the space, then it continues from there. What do client’s ask for? That varies from client to client. Someone asked where will we put our dirty clothes, they have to be separated, so we made a bench at the foot of the bed with three flip tops for darks, whites and dry-cleaning.
LL: These days most of us cannot afford a top to bottom luxury overhaul of our homes, but are spending more time there than ever. What are the simplest decorating changes you can make to make a more comfortable and luxurious atmosphere, perfect for both nesting and entertaining.
AS + CC: Simple home decorating changes in hard times:
1) Paint is the easiest, you can do a feature wall, meaning painting only one wall in a room-say-the TV wall.
2) For entertaining, buy a few ottomans for extra seating in 3 different colors. Adds a big punch to a room.
Posted by Erin Ryder
Accessible design is something our industry tends to struggle with expecially during these trying times sans a few of our favorite retailers, and budget-friendly makeovers generally end up inspired by the pages of catalogs. Kristian Cunningham, HGTV’s Design on a Dime host and Rachel Ray show regular, lent some of her expertise to us about how design updates do not have to break the bank, and fresh ideas are easier thank you think.
LoftLife: Give us some background. How did you get into interior design? And more importantly, how did you become so handy?
Kristian Cunningham: I knew from the time I was a young girl that I wanted to be a designer- never wanted to do anything else. So after school, I moved to LA and started out assisting several designers and running showrooms- freelance drafting at night to make extra cash- until I landed my dream job at a small firm. And then the TV thing happened very accidentally.
On the day I found out that I had the Design on a Dime job, my new boss said, “and you sew, right?” I told her, “of course I do”, and headed to Sears that night to buy a sewing machine. A pillow for my debut DOD install was the first thing I’d sewn since high school Home Ec, (I was still trying to figure out how to thread the bobbin at 3 in the morning!) and after that it was sink or swim. I encourage people to learn as they go along because that’s exactly how I did it. First week on the job, I had the boys show me how to use a chop saw and by the next I was making projects that incorporated miter cuts. Same thing with the table saw, pneumatic nailer and so on. Four years later, I had a garage outfitted so well that the neighborhood fathers came to me to borrow tools! And I’m still learning…
LL: Design on a Dime has never been more relevant than it is right now. People are spending less money and more time at home. What are the easiest, budget friendly changes you can make on a dime?
KC: I’ve said it a million times, but the biggest bang for your buck will always be paint. It may take you a weekend, but a space can be entirely transformed for under $100. And don’t underestimate the power of rethinking and rearranging the things you already have. After we live with our spaces for awhile, we stop seeing the possibilities, so getting a fresh perspective from another set of eyes can do wonders. Ask a friend who’s taste jives with yours to come over and make some suggestions- I always call on my “partner in design”, Ruth. We go to brunch and then back to each other’s houses to “play”, as our guys like to call it. By the time the boys get back from the beach, the spaces look completely different and neither one of us had to spend a dime.
LL: What are some of the most common design dilemma’s you come across?
KC: I get a lot of emails and makeover requests from folks who are trying to figure out how to get the most use out of every square inch of their homes- whether it’s creating more storage or carving out a home office. Sourcing the right multifunctional pieces and creating a good space plan can be life changing for people who feel they’ve outgrown their spaces.
I also get a lot of cries for help from people who are fully aware that they’ve overdone it- whether it’s a theme or a color, or just room after room of the same wood tone. Sometimes, my job is to just be an editor, and to help people reign it all back in.
LL: DIY-K (Do It Yourself – Kinda) is our take on the DIY movement, as many of us are not as good with tools as we’d like to be. What are some tips and tricks to fake it till your skills make it?
I like the kinda part!, and it’s more relevant now than ever. I think that design enthusiasts have been inspired by the DIY movement over recent years (thanks to the plethora of super design shows ; ), shelter mags, and design websites!), and the current economic environment is forcing those who were hesitant to jump in, to be more proactive in getting things done themselves. Luckily, there’s info available online for everything from fixing a leaky toilet to building a table. For people who aren’t familiar enough with power tools to feel comfortable taking on projects that involve them, barter! Find a friend or coworker who’s got skills and figure out a service that you can trade-heck, they might even do it for pizza and a six pack! While you have someone with know-how right there in your home, take the opportunity to watch and learn- ask questions!
Most people don’t start out with a garage full of tools (and people who live in the city wouldn’t have a place to put ‘em anyhow!), but you can rent just about anything from Lowe’s or Home Depot for a small fee, and it’s a great way to kind of “test drive” different tools before taking the plunge and investing in them. Just be sure to have someone there with you ANYTIME you’re running power tools. You gotta respect those beasts! And take a breather when you’re frustrated.
LL: Now that you’re programmed to design on a budget, what do you consider the most well worth decorating splurges?
KC: Good white sheets. I still make every attempt to buy them on clearance, mind you, but I value my sleep time immensely and it’s worth every penny to wake up deliriously happy thanks to delicious bedding. The white part is important- it’s classic and bleachable, which is imperative if you make a habit of eating in bed and sleeping in mascara. I do both, thank you very much.
And good hardware. You can make a junky piece look bespoke, or a builder’s special kitchen look custom with the right hardware. When the details look high-end, the rest of the space seems to get elevated by association. Oh, and good lampshades! You can spend a jillion dollars getting everything just right, but a cheap white shade can ruin a room. It’s the details, I tell ya.
LL: What are your favorite projects you’ve had the opportunity to work on?
KC: Designing a pop-up restaurant for an event that President Bill Clinton co-hosted with Rachael Ray was incredibly exciting, and last year I made over center field at Minute Maid Stadium (home of the Houston Astros) into a wedding venue where 40 couples simultaneously married. Both of these projects were installed and broken down in less than 24 hrs! I also participated in Hollywood Life Magazine’s “Young Hollywood Home” at the PDC last year, and designed and installed the “Gibson Lounge”. I was loaned 3 Les Paul’s, a piano and these sick vintage amps to create a space where musicians could perform and an audience could get liquored up and relax. This space was one of my personal favorites, and was able to live for a whopping 3 weeks before being disassembled- new coffered, wallpapered ceiling and all
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked side by side with some of the most talented, committed and fun contractors and tradesmen on the planet. Every project, in every city, has brought me new friends- whether it’s a Habitat for Humanity build or a TV makeover. I love the comradery that forms on a jobsite so, after hundreds of ‘em, I still cry at the end of every single project. Picking a favorite would be like having to pick a favorite kid!
LL: Aside from your work on HGTV and Rachel Ray, any other exciting news we can share?
KC: I recently joined the team at Raymour & Flanigan as their resident designer, where I’ll be providing tips and advising customers about their product. I’ll also be appearing as a judge on HGTV’s $250,000 Challenge, a new design competition premiering May 31st, as well as a few more exciting projects in development ; )
Interior designer Lisa Jackson stumbled into design by accident, but it’s clear this is her calling. Clients like Renee Zellweger, Vera Wang and Tory Burch have turned to Jackson for her simple and timeless design. Widely known for unique pieces picked up during trips around the globe, Jackson has an eye for rare antiques and fine art compiled everywhere from auction houses to flea markets.
We spoke with the designer about Lucca & Co., a furniture, antique and tabletop company, which she acquired in 2007.
LoftLife: We hear you’ve just returned from some great trips, and that travel plays a large role in how you source a majority of your furniture and other pieces. Where are your favorite travel destinations for antiques?
Lisa Jackson: There are of course the tried and true small towns in Italy… Belgium – especially Brussels, Antwerp and the surrounding countryside.
My current romance is with Mykonos. I fell in love last summer, it made my heart flutter. First off, everything is white, my favorite color, and not to mention it’s an island that is all about chic and natural yet is also refined. Very fab and cool! Wildly inspirational…
LL: What are the challenges when balancing between antiques with modern?
LJ: Its all about keeping interiors modern and spare. So we sprinkle antiques in to add warmth and integrity. They provide a sense of history, and lineage. They add an uniqueness that is imperative. I exercise restraint for the most part. The overall distinctive modernity I am looking for is lost. I shutter from clutter!
LL: Tell us about the most interesting or unique space you’ve worked on to date.
LJ: We have worked on everything from the Blackstone Group offices in London to Rene Zellweger’s country house. Of course also NY lofts and beach houses in the Hamptons too. We love it all.
LL: A lot of your work features a neutral color scheme. Why the absence of color, or have we just not seen it?
LJ: I love to use strong color in accessories: pillows, throws, glass and ceramic objects. Most importantly, I use masses of fresh flowers to make the room come alive – deep purples, coral, acid green, saffron. I always use lots and lots of the same type and color grouped together. Think of bright groups of flowers set against a pale beige or grey background . . . sublime!
LL: Classic design and comfort seem to remain key themes. What interests or overall themes influence your design sensibility?
LJ: I am a modernist at heart. That’s the consistent aesthetic thread. I keep it refined and sophisticated in an informal way. Lifestyle means everything… I want all our interiors to reflect this. Never sacrifice style and luxe. The idea is to melt into the furniture. Put your feet up and wait for the uncertain and unexpected to unfold or get lucky with some good conversation and a cocktail.
LL: Lucca & Co. is a full lifestyle brand, including books, jewelry and gifts. How do you see all of these pieces fitting together?
LJ: Its all in the edit. There’s no ruffles or rushing around here. No pretense. Just clean and simple design of the finest quality. Table top items include 17th century classic glass styles from Sweden and Italian hand thrown ceramic dishes. Indian jewelry and books about modern design that all express the same voice.
LL: Coming from a business background and somewhat falling into interior design, what were the biggest surprises you came across in the industry you were not expecting?
LJ: Holy cow . . . all the heavy lifting! This is a very physically demanding business and I am always running around looking for the newest and coolest stuff for the shop, not to mention moving furniture or hauling pillows and objects for styling. I admit, I do have a great staff that helps a lot.
LL: What have you not had the opportunity to design yet that you’d like to do?
LJ: Carpet and textile designs are a passion. I have a million ideas which I am working on as we speak!
For more information about Lisa’s interior design work, visit Jackson Aaron.
Posted by Erin Ryder
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