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20 young Designers

From the Editors of Traditional Home
    San Francisco

    Does fashion influence your design?
    Almost every space I design is heavily influenced by fashion. I probably read as many fashion magazines as I do interior design ones. My first claim to "local" fame was at the 2004 San Francisco Decorator's Showcase house. I designed the gentleman's dressing room and based the story on an English dandy. The walls were upholstered in men's flannel suiting fabric, the trims and crown a crisp, off-white like a freshly starched collar, and the cabinetry, a rich caramel walnut burl in faux bois, like a well polished pair of Italian leather wing tips. The cabinet knobs shone like grandfathers cufflinks. Can't wait to do the ladies dressing room! I see midnight organza and pearls . . .

    What aspects of your work would you describe as traditional?
    While most people looking at my work might not consider it traditional, most everything I create come from an idea based in the past. I like to jostle loose a traditional concept and play with it until it's just different enough to call my own, but so that it still has the essence of that thing I started with. Take a traditional English library, wall to wall books, floor to ceiling, wafting of mahogany and moldy book spines. Poorly lit but in a few warm spots, next to the cracked leather Chesterfield sofa, and the occasional art light illuminating the volumes of unread prose.

    I might turn the bookshelves to blackened steel, not pack the shelves with books but adorn them with antique hat forms, interspersed by tied bundles of French textbooks, and drop a dramatic industrial chandelier in the middle of the room of industrial propeller parts and candelabra bulbs. I might stack firewood on the fireplace wall from floor to ceiling, inside, and out of the fireplace. You'd walk into the room and know you were in the library, and yet be surprised at what you're seeing. You might even say to yourself, do I untie the books to get to one for a read, or should I just grab my laptop?

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    Well, my degree is in Environmental Science, not Interior Design! So, not surprisingly I have been interested in the green design movement for a while. But, not until meeting Zem Joaquin of eco-fabulous and working on numerous green projects, did it become a focus of mine. A wonderful team, myself included, completed the first "Gold" Leed certified med-spa in California, Epicenter Med Spa.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    Well, not sure about childhood so much other than my beautiful antique 4-poster bed with the horsehair mattress from my great-grandfather juxtaposed by the poster over the headboard of let's see . . . Gumby, replaced by John Denver, then Elle McPhearson, Grateful Dead . . . you get the picture.

    But, in college, I really went for it, and created a virtual Ralph Lauren window display out of my room. I had the oversized Kentia Palm in the corner, a blue and white Brazilian crochet hammock hanging wall to wall, and all white linen bedding with a salon style collection of photos, sepias and paintings clustered on the wall over the bed. It was a RL tropical/safari thing. I was hooked!

    Is there a palette you are drawn to?
    So, I've been ripped apart on blogs and comment boards time and time again for this one, but I really love a monochromatic color palette. Often times a subtle color story lends nicely to showcasing colorful art, or a spectacular antique piece of furniture. I find it much more difficult to show restraint when building a color palette. The tendency is to introduce at least 2-3 colors into a room and start the interplay with neutrals. I recently did a room and chose yellow, gray, and white. The only yellow in the room was a large bold painting in the room. The rest was gray and white . . . quite a challenge, but what a successful outcome.

    Wick Design Group
    San Francisco


    How did you enter the design business?
    I have a design degree from El Centro College in Dallas, where I originally thought I would be studying fashion design. I am fascinated with fabric-with the dramatic details you can create with a simple drape or an unusual knot of material. That translates beautifully to interior design-perhaps even stronger than with fashion.

    Anything else in your background contribute to your uniqueness as a designer?
    As a teenager, I worked construction. I know how things are made because I've done the work myself-I especially liked making furniture. I think that explains my ability to visualize a project in 3-D. Even in reclaiming a piece of salvage-a Chippendale sofa at Goodwill, for instance-I can see beyond the sags and the ripped, stained fabric to how the piece will look rebuilt and reupholstered with one-of-a-kind dressmaker details that are something I try to bring to each of my projects. I look for the form of a piece of furniture. If it's good and the price is right, I buy it, knowing I will find the right home for it with a client.

    Of your designs that we've seen, traditional elements are certainly present, but the overall feel is light-very contemporary, though the style isn't modern. Can you explain?
    Part of that is because I don't like to swallow a room in furniture. A few good pieces have more impact, and quiet details become more immediately recognizable. It's a clean look, not a heavy traditional style.

    From talking with you, it becomes apparent you are a shopper extraodonaire.
    I love browsing through secondhand furniture shops, at flea markets, and at antiques shops looking for unusual objects. They don't have to be major furnishings like a sofa. A wonderful old piece of fabric that can be created into a pillow or an amazing antique bronze Greek-key finial as part of a window treatment can be a stunning statement.

    Julio Quiñones & Associates

    Christina Sullivan and Susan Bednar Long
    New York

    Christina Sullivan:

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    Three things that make a room fabulous are that the interiors reflect the people who are living in them, they have strong sense of contrast through color and texture, and the accessories and furnishing are simple yet remain sophisticated, warm and inviting.

    What is your favorite house from the movies or TV?
    That's an easy one, 3 Beekman Place where "Auntie Mame" lived. Although there are dozens of films where the homes/interiors are just amazing such as Diamonds are Forever, Gone with the Wind and The Queen. It's apparent that 3 Beekman Place is in a league of its own. Mame's townhouse owns the words "Style & Glamour" and changes to suite her every mood. She put it best-"Life is a Banquet"-and she managed to throw a lot of them while constantly reinventing her interiors. Refined elegance with splashes of color and texture are so evident in this movie classic.

    How do you give small spaces a grand vibe?
    Create a grand feeling in a small space by placing a large mirror (approximately half the size of one wall) leaning on your wall. This will create an illusion of more space while reflecting your room and more light. Immediately the ceiling height becomes taller and the room becomes much larger. It works like magic and creates a GRAND vibe!

    Susan Bednar Long:

    What can’t you live without?  
    My design books. They're a constant source of inspiration.

    Tocar Interior Design
    Susan Bednar Long and Christina Sullivan
    New York

    New York

    How does living in New York City influence your designs?
    Though New York may be thought of more often as a modern metropolis, it's also home to some of the most traditional designs and resources in America. Living and working in New York City offers the best of both worlds. While introducing us to emerging artists, architects and materials found nowhere else, New York is also host to the most incredible collections of traditional and classical designs. Whether it's a visit to the Wrightsman Galleries of period rooms at the Metropolitan Museum, or a stroll through one of the many landmark historic districts, you can't help but be inundated and inspired by GREAT design. Our work is very much influenced by the harmonious mix of old and new that we experience everyday in New York. We like to soften crisp, new architecture by introducing the patina of a few, unexpected antique pieces, or vice versa, interject some contemporary art into more traditional homes. It makes a space timeless as opposed to a time capsule.

    What three words would you use to describe your designs?
    In addition to dynamic? . . . Thoughtful, timeless, tailored.

    How does your partnership influence/ synergize your design work?
    Synergize! Exactly the right word! At first glance, it may appear as though we are of one opinion, and in truth, we're more alike than we'd care to admit and often, unknowingly, coordinate our clothes. However, I find that it's our differences that make our work together stronger. While there's nothing wrong with a solo, a duet is much more interesting! We each have different strengths and perspectives which challenge and compliment one another. The results are dynamic in every sense of the word.

    What trends do you anticipate, or already see catching on?
    I predict a "back to basics" trend. Given the current economic climate, opulence is out (even if you can afford it!). I think we will see a return to more simple, basic, and honest design that's comfortable and relaxed, focusing on family and home, the bedrock of life.

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    As much as possible, we try to engage goods and services that are local to our projects, and promote the use of sustainable materials, like reclaimed tiles or wood floor boards, or slab materials made from recycled materials. There are lots of beautiful and COMFORTABLE upholstery and fabric lines now that offer organic and green options.

    Carrier and Company
    New York

    Los Angeles

    How does living in Los Angeles influence your designs?
    As native Angelenos we can't help but be highly influenced by this magical city. Witnessing the constant evolution of this eccentric town is what has been infused into our design sensibilities. From the fashion forward, street art, architecture styles, old Hollywood glamour, music and nature-you see these traits woven into our designer flair creating a style of our own-Modage.

    How does being in a partnership synergize your design work?
    We both owned our own design firms prior to merging into Woodson & Rummerfield's House of Design. We quickly learned that the combination of the two forces took every idea to an elevated level and our standard of excellence was raised. We keep each other in check, both bringing something different to the table. We are the male female complement to one another and the design work reflects that balance. We refer to the saying "One + one equals three"-the two of us collaborating creates a whole new entity altogether.

    What can't you live without?
    Jaime: Vintage jewelry (large-scale bangles, rings and pendants), Coco Mademoiselle perfume by Chanel, my Macbook and i-Phone, my husband, Dana, and our Jack Russell terrier "Buddy."

    Ron: Vintage cufflinks, Bespoke suits, my Rotring writing instruments, all of my old music collection; anything from Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Brazil 66 and Dinah Washington, my dogs Petra and Niles, my Ray Ban aviators that I've had for over 20 years, old photos of my parents from the '50s, and foreign travel.

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    A decorative chandelier, a rich paint color, and a well-curated layout. And objets.

    What musicians, artists, and writers are your muses?
    Jaime: Pharrell Williams, Elsa Schiaparelli, Eileen Gray, Robert Rauschenberg

    Ron: Tom Ford, Oswald Boateng, Franz Kline, Tina Turner

    What is the best compliment you can hear about your work?
    When people's eyes light up and think the work is stunning, intelligent, and timeless, and it makes people happy.

    Woodson & Rummerfield's House of Design
    Los Angeles


    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to, and if so, why?
    I love so many color combinations. I am definitely drawn to colors like raspberry, violet and turquoise. I'm working on a house now where one whole side is doors and windows. I'm using a lot of coral and peach mixed with shades of purple and hints of yellow and brass accents. There is something so refreshing and unexpected about it.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    I didn't start decorating my room until freshman year in college. We were the only dorm room on our floor with custom painted walls. From that point on every apartment I had throughout college was decorated to a T. I did however design homes for my barbies as a child. I would stand up my mom's record albums as walls and tape up fabric for the drapes. My grandmother sewed for me the most amazing little bed spreads and bolster pillows not to mention barbie clothes to die for.

    What can't you live without?
    Wow, how long can my answer be? I have so many. My family, friends, chocolate, blue jeans, mid century furniture, color, living near the ocean, southern food

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    Personality, color, and texture, but that is just the beginning.

    What has been your defining moment as a designer?
    My own first house put me on the map, but I don't think I've had my defining moment yet.

    Who are your mentors or influences as a designer?
    My mentors are Gio Ponti, David Hicks, Billy Baldwin, Eero Saarinen and Edward Wormley, just to name a few.

    My influences are fabrics, fashion, architecture and my training and experience as a graphic designer.

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    I have always used a lot of vintage furniture and I think it is even more relevant now. The process of manufacturing furniture releases harmful emissions and depletes natural resources. Fortunately there is more green furniture on the market today. I just saw a bamboo table and chairs that I am dying to use. I am also working to incorporate more low VOC paints in to my work.

    Angie Hranowsky Design Studio

    Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

    What has been your defining moment as an interior designer?
    Without question, my most defining moment as an Interior Designer was when I was featured on the cover of your magazine. From the time I was in college, and my professor said that being a published designer was the signature of a successful designer, my goal was set and it was my mountain to climb. Obviously, I work for my clients and their complete satisfaction is my first priority. I have always followed my instinct and I realize how fortunate I have been to do something I love and actually get paid for it. But, to be recognized among my peers and selected by professionals who have the responsibility of selecting homes that convey their mission while appealing to a massive audience, was complete validation for me.

    What can't you live without?
    I will forgo the typical family and dog answer because that goes without saying. So, I will proceed on a purely materialistic level. I will say the terrifying experience of having to pack up everything that matters into one car for multiple hurricane evacuations has made this answer quite easy for me. I have always treasured my grandmother's sterling silver candlesticks, some original artwork my parents collected along their travels and my wedding photos. My experience in this industry has taught me that all things are replaceable; however, there are some things that money can't buy.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    I certainly did decorate my childhood bedroom . . . many times. Looking back, that was my first design project and what a challenge it was. I was in third grade, had no budget, old furniture and a very difficult client, me. My room was pale yellow with white trim and beige carpet. My furnishings consisted of one twin bed, a sewing machine table that was reused as a bedside table, wall mounted white shelves, a fan back wicker chair and a white desk. My bedding ensemble included an eyelet dust skirt with matching shams and a bedspread (yes, bedspread) with red strawberries and butterflies on it. It was quite a find because it was reversible too. My window treatments were eyelet curtains that matched the dust skirt mixed with pom pom café curtains. I especially loved how the café curtains would allow for plenty of filtered sunlight. I would stay in my room for hours and continually rearrange and organize every item until it was perfect. Once everything was to my liking, I would sit on my bed and take it all in.

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    Something old, something new and something that makes people stop and think. Something old creates history and character, something new keeps a room current and fresh and pushing the envelope is not only job, but it's provocative.

    What trends do you seen on the horizon?
    Less is more. I have more requests for simplified furniture details, organic and natural materials, and comfortable, easy living. A majority of my clients have requested a space that feels good. They want a place that is peaceful and inviting with a casual elegance. There homes are for their families and friends where memoires are created and it's not about the silk drapes and pedigreed furniture, rather the lifestyle that they lead and life's simple pleasures.

    GCI Design
    Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

    Des Moines

    You have been described as a "young traditionalist." Can you elaborate?
    In my designs, I provide clients with an elegant and balanced but young approach to home decoration. My ability to combine my understanding of the traditional principles of design with a contemporary aesthetic and the use of bright color has made me a welcome addition to my local design community. I understand what life is like at home for my contemporaries who share their homes with children, pets and an unpredictable climate.

    Describe the range of projects you have designed.
    In Des Moines, I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including a mid-century ranch renovation, an updated center hall colonial, an early American colonial and a brick Georgian house.

    Is there a common thread running through all of your designs?
    A. Yes, there is. It's not "the same look," however, but the fact that I have been able to achieve for my clients elegant homes that do not sacrifice comfort and practicality. Most men want to sink into a great armchair every night, women want a chic dining room that can sparkle at an elegant dinner party and accommodate three generations of a family for Thanksgiving dinner, and everyone wants great-looking upholstered forms that won't get ruined by children. If I can create beautiful rooms for my clients and satisfy all of their needs, then I can feel proud of my work.

    Eco-friendly design seems to be a real and lasting part of design. How are you dealing with this in your business?
    There is nothing 'greener' than a beautifully restored antique that has been passed from one loving owner to another. Encouraging the collection of antiques is one way of dealing with this issue of treating the environment with care. Another is this: whenever using newer furniture, I try to offer options made with sustainable woods or covered in natural, sustainable fabrics.

    Tell us about your design background.
    I started Reynal Interiors in Des Moines, Iowa, after working in New York City as a designer with architect Alison Spear, and as a senior design associate at Cullman & Kravis. With Alison Spear, I developed a working understanding of the architecture of a room and how to respect the tenets of proportion and balance.

    Then, as a senior design associate at Cullman & Kravis, I defined my signature as a traditionalist grounded in the classical elements of symmetry and proportion that are really at the core of my work. I worked side by side collectors of fine art and English and American antiques. Combining the elements of fine design with contemporary lifestyles has become my credo.

    Is your degree in design?
    I received a bachelor's degree in Art History from Trinity College, then studied the masters abroad in Florence, Italy. But the most important part of my design education came later, during the three years I spent in London studying European decorative arts and antiques. I brought home a unique understanding of the refined English aesthetic. But from a very young age, my world was steeped in art, antiques, architecture and interior design. My childhood included family trips to museums and important historic homes both on the East Coast and across the pond in France and Europe. I was taken everywhere from Winterthur in Delaware, to the Louvre to Blenheim Palace in England. As a teen at Miss Porter's boarding school in Connecticut, my friends and I would pore over our Art History books earnestly travel to museums in Boston, New York and DC to come face to face the history and creations we learned about on slides.

    Reynal Interiors
    Des Moines

    West Hollywood

    How does living in Hollywood influence your designs?

    Joe: It's funny because both Parrish and I are born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area and our designs definitely reflect that as we always like to inject that traditional East Coast feel into the more casual California lifestyle. One might think that the glamour of Hollywood that you see on the "red carpet" would go into all aspects of the home too, but really in the end our clients just want a beautiful and comfortable home where they can enjoy all that California has to offer.

    Parrish: Living close to Hollywood doesn't particularly influence our design, I think living in California is a bigger influence. Hollywood "glamour" is not our aesthetic, per se, but a more laid back "California take" on traditional interiors is usually how our interiors wind up. This has a lot to do with proximity to the beach, the way our clients ask to have their spaces designed and the overall casual attitude that could be pinpointed to "younger" Hollywood. Nothing out here is formal.

    How does being part of a team synergize your design work?

    Joe: Honestly I wouldn't want it any other way. We are a little bit like twins separated at birth. We finish each other's sentences, learn from one another's mistakes and make the same bad jokes. But most importantly I think we act as the all-important editor to the other person. We don't always agree on every decision so things get edited out that one of us might not like, but we hope that in the end the result is a cohesive product that we are both proud of. And the best part is that we laugh . . . a lot . . . which is the key to success in business. Why would you want to work anywhere where you can't laugh on a daily basis-especially these days?

    Parrish: I think being part of a team has been critical to the success of our firm, so far. We share at minimum half of a design brain and then we are able to bring to the table additional fresh and exciting ideas that the other person may not have seen or may have overlooked. This always ups the ante on all of our projects and makes it fun for each of us to see what the other person is going to think of. It's an awesome gift to be able to work with someone you trust and like . . . especially when the partnership works!

    Did you decorate your childhood room? If so, describe it.

    Joe: You know I almost said no, but the more I think about it I did have a lot of "opinions" about my rooms growing up. Being the youngest of six kids usually meant you had a lot of hand-me-downs. One of the more creative things I ever did, at about age 7, was take scraps of all the carpets that had just been laid in all the other bedrooms of our new house and make a patchwork wall-to-wall carpet in my room. There must have been 7 different colors. It was everyone's favorite room in the house. I also attempted to reupholster a nasty sofa from Salvation Army in my college dorm. It took me almost a year but it was a great way to procrastinate from a paper!

    Parrish: Yes! 7th grade . . . mid-'80s . . . dragged my mom to the Laura Ashley shops and made her wallpaper my room in yellow and blue flowers and I made her find someone to pickle the floors. Then I asked to go to a thrift store and we bought an old Victorian dresser that I sanded down and painted white myself. It had an attached mirror and I thought that I had the most original and beautiful room in my entire 7th grade. DEFINITELY not.

    What makes you traditional?

    Joe: Definitely my New England roots, they make me traditional in design and in my life in general. I grew up in a very traditional suburb of New York and spent the summers in almost a "storybook" town on the Jersey shore so I was surrounded by great architecture and interiors that became, well, "expected." But I think one of the most important things that makes Lucas Studio traditional is that fact that we really strive to make our work as classic and timeless as we can. We don't design around trends and our clients are not looking for stuffy "look-but-don't-touch" homes. In a way it's really designing around what I think of as New Traditional or Young Traditional.

    I think that both of us being from the east coast has had an enormous influence on our design. It is why we are both rooted in traditional"ism" and usually prefer it to other styles. We were both used to being around very "matchy-matchy" preppy houses, but prefer to have a looser, more relaxed look in our own work. We like things that are more masculine, but still traditional...shapes that are organic and interesting, but always go for fabrics that are traditionally based . . . cottons, linens, silks and we certainly don't hate florals!

    What can't you live without?

    Joe: Where do I start!? In design? Great accessories, they make a room and they are the hardest "layer" to get clients to buy. . . . how else can you be shopping for clients at 3am in bed!? And Cowtan & Tout . . . by far the most reliable fabric source in the country and most represented in our design library.

    In life? In n Out burgers, California produce, snow at Christmas, my supportive family, the sound of seagulls overhead and my two partners in crime . . . Parrish at the work and David at home.

    PC: JOE! (Or my kids)...and husband! As far as design, great outdoor fabrics for indoor use because my kids can boot on them and they still look good. And World Linen. It comes in a million colors and is a great staple for curtains and upholstery on a budget!

    What has been your worst design mistake, and what did you learn from it?

    Joe: Well . . . let's just say it had a little something to do with scale. It always helps to double check measurements when you are reproducing $16,000 bedside tables from an auction catalog and they come in looking like they were props for a house in Munchkinland. I think one of my old bosses still has them in storage waiting for a job that might need really fancy parchment doll house furniture. Whoops.

    Parrish: As a picky designer, buying curtains and curtain hardware on deep discount from a major retailer and then hanging them with too many panels, because I didn't like how flimsy they looked, so that the rods and brackets started falling out of the wall. I tried to save money and didn't have our curtain maker just do them from the get-go. The whole ordeal has cost more than if I just had them made. Now I am my own best example for our clients when explaining why great curtains are a great investment!

    What three things make a room fabulous?

    Joe: The wrong color can make or break a room's energy. I think the floor is so important too, the wrong stone or too light of a stain will affect everything else that goes on it. And lastly, a room that gets USED is a room that is FABULOUS. Growing up we had a room that was under my parents' master bedroom. It was huge and far away from the hub of the house. We quite literally called it "The Useless Room" because we never went in it. A house needs to be comfortable and every room needs to get used. Every room needs life breathed into it and that starts with the design.

    Parrish: The comfort of the furniture, the color of the walls & ceiling and beautiful lamps.
    Who are your mentors or influences as a designer?

    Joe: As far as designers I have worked under in the past, I learned my attention to detail and the importance of laughter in the workplace from people like Claudia Benvenuto, and I learned the importance of editing and just how beautiful a room or home can be from watching people like Michael Smith. I am influenced by the boldness of Jeffrey Bilhuber, the calmness of Thomas O'Brien and the traditionalism of architects like Ferguson & Shamamian.

    Parrish: Suzanne Rheinstein, Michael Smith, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Albert Hadley and Tom Scheerer

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?

    Joe: We try not to build new furniture for a job unless we really have to. We will always try to incorporate antiques or vintage pieces first. We also always go through what the client has in the home when we start the project. Sometimes their least favorite piece is our greatest find. A new finish or fabric or even just a new place in the home can turn a piece around . . . and does a lot to help the earth and the budget!

    Parrish: We have always loved natural fibers like linen and hemp for fabrics and sea grass and jute for carpets. And as for sustainability, we use a lot outdoor fabrics indoors for families with young kids. The longer you can make something last the better. We are even using a new bamboo crib from Kalon Studios in a nursery for a show house we are working on. There's no better way to introduce green design into people's lives than starting at birth! And not only is the design beautiful but it converts to a bed that will last through the toddler years.

    Lucas Studio Inc.
    West Hollywood

    West Hollywood

    How does living in Hollywood influence your designs?
    I grew up here in Los Angeles, and certainly been influenced by the huge legacy of California designers that came before me . . . Francis Elkins, Michael Taylor, etc. People think of the California look as big overstuffed upholstery and lots of beige. Part of that is true, but it's for a reason. So much of California design has to do with the light. We have amazing light here. Very warm, sort of golden yellowish. This is why many designers turn to neutrals when working out here, because they absorb this beautiful light.

    As for Los Angeles, we're a very casual city. Jeans, jeans, jeans everywhere. When scheming a room, I always look at fabrics and think, "Could you wear jeans in this room?" It keeps even the fanciest room grounded.

    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to, and if so, why?
    I obsess about color! Even when I'm working with a "neutral" palette I'm breaking things apart to determine the nuances of straw vs. camel vs. tan. Lately I've been using a lot of strong, clear color in my work, and often cool tones . . . blues, greens, lavender. I think cool colors are very easy to live with.

    There's a Pratt & Lambert paint I like to use on ceilings. It's called snow goose. It's the faintest shade of pale blue. Almost like a very cool white. It subconsciously reminds us of sky and because cool tones recede, it makes the ceiling look taller.

    My own home is filled with gutsy, unusual colors. The dining room is bright peacock blue. My study is sort of olive meets Kelly green that I mixed myself. The living room is painted in the most marvelous shade by Donald Kauffman . . . sort of a lavender/gray color. It's warm and cheerful during the day, and at night it's sort of moody and very elegant.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    I grew up in a midcentury modern house in Hollywood Hills. It was very light and bright, mostly glass with wonderful views. My parents were very tolerant, almost indulgent with my decorating whims, as a kid. I would get up in the middle of the night to rearrange the furniture in our living room. My childhood bedroom changed constantly, and often not for the better. I remember one incarnation, where my father helped me lacquer all the furniture shiny black, and I painted the walls dark graphite gray. There was gray carpet, and silver mini-blinds, and black sheets on my bed (ughhh!). The room was dark and cozy and very textural .and rather glamorous (especially for a 13 year old!)

    What can't you live without?
    Well, first and foremost, Good Friends. As for tangible objects . . . Books (I'm a huge bibliophile. I collect books on art theory, design, architecture, as well as loads of biographies), Diptique candles (black baies), plain chapstick, unscented in the black case, pencil cups, Hermes cologne . . . L'eau d'Orange Verte (which I've been wearing since I was 17), L.L. Bean Tote Bags (I must have 2 dozen of them, great for lugging samples, great for traveling, great for the gym).

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    Laughter, candlelight, music.

    What career would you have gone into if not design?
    I have always been interested in design and architecture; I've wanted to do this since I was 7 years old. I love what I do, and can't imagine doing anything else.

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    I utilize reclaimed materials for flooring, paneling, and architectural details. These not only bring in a sense of age and history, but don't create new waste. We buy antiques and vintage pieces for the same reasons. I've found wonderful resources for "green" upholstery, using wool stuffing instead of foam. My new favorite is LED Lighting, which generates less heat, lasts longer and uses less electricity than traditional tungsten bulbs.

    Oliver M. Furth Design and Decoration
    West Hollywood

    New York

    How do fashion and fine art influence your designs?
    For me, having a background in fine arts and fashion design, I find myself going back to my roots every day.I might find inspiration from a Vermeer for an interesting color palette. Or be able to work with a client who has a wonderful collection that sets the stage for the rest of the room. I have a heightened sensitivity to fabrics and textiles; and the couture level of detailing that I bring to my projects is certainly evident from the fashion training.

    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to, and if so why?
    The base palette that I am attracted to the most tends to be neutral in color. From that starting point I gravitate in two directions. Either the palette becomes very warm and rich with earth colors that look like they have been excavated from Pompeii with splashes of eggplant or persimmon. Or I love a vibrant saturated palette such as petrol blues, acid yellows and unexpected colors that juxtaposed with a cool neutral base palette create a wonderful since of balance.

    What can't you live without?
    My friends!

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    I think that a fabulous room has to have a strong architectural backbone, an interesting use of color and a moment of surprise; whether it is an unusual piece of furniture, art or something a client may have picked up on their travels.

    How do you want your rooms to make people feel?
    I want people who experience my work to be able to feel that memories could be made there. That it is a place where family and friends come together to spend time and be able to take away a wonderful experience. The room should complement the owners and reflect their taste and personalities.

    Kristen McGinnis Design
    New York


    Tell me about your design background.
    I've been an interior designer for 13 years. I worked in Dallas several years, then in Vail. When I moved to Chicago, I worked as a designer for Nate Berkus Associates. I've been on my own [in Chicago] for four and a half years.

    What distinguishes your designs from the work of others in the business?
    I really love to design an eclectic interior, using unexpected pieces. I like to work in vintage houses, but to bring in modern pieces of furniture and accessories as well as antiques.

    I also love bringing spaces to life with textiles-great mixtures of textures, colors, and patterns. My personal favorite is neutral backgrounds with punches of color.

    What do clients seem to like most about your approach?
    People tend to gravitate toward my color palettes.

    But I also think they like the fact that it's really important to me to listen to their needs and then facilitate that into something beautiful and elegant.

    Is there a particular period or style that you favor over others?
    I lean toward French 1940s, Italian 1940s-the '40s period in general is what I gravitate to. I appreciate the fact that it has cleaner lines than many other vintage styles, but with some acute attention to detail, whether it's the metal banding on a chair, shagreen tops or beautiful vellum-wrapped tops or boxes. The designers from this era used extremely interesting materials in interesting ways.

    Given carte blanche, would you design an entire interior in '40s vintage pieces?
    I would never do a whole room in it. But I would use a '40s table and other '40s pieces as accents.

    Everybody's hopping on the green bandwagon. Have you?
    There are some great-looking textiles on the market now that are eco-friendly. More and more companies are offering good selections-especially of great wovens and textures, which are supposed to have longer durability than other fabrics. I'm investigating those options as I design. I also use paint that is noted for being environmentally friendly.

    Melanie Elston Interiors

    New York

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    I am very cognizant of the fact that because we often do large renovations of old homes, we are constantly part of a process that results in a lot of waste and garbage. So whenever possible, I attempt to help clients re-use old things in new and interesting ways-my version of "recycling." Whether it be through transferring an old piece of furniture to a different room or by updating a cherished family heirloom with a fresh coat of paint, we can stretch the life of an item and allow the client to see the piece in a new light. With old upholstery pieces, we can make a piece look different in more ways than simply covering the piece in new fabric-we can remove a skirt and paint the legs of the piece to give it a more tailored look, or we can re-shape the arms of a sofa or chair either by slimming them down or plumping them up; when new seat cushions are needed for a sofa, perhaps instead of doing two or three seats, we recommend one long, single cushion. We try to avoid adding to the already voluminous amount of waste where we can, even in small ways, by stretching our imaginations and being creative with old pieces. I feel the same theory applies to the purchase if vintage and antique pieces-in that it helps the environment if we can make use of something with some age, and can avoid having to manufacture everything from scratch.

    My upholsterer has also recently introduced me to soy foam seat cushions. Not only do I feel good about suggesting these cushions to clients because they are environmentally friendly, but I also love the way they feel to sit on. When I first tested the soy foam cushions, I selected them over five other seat-cushion fills without even knowing what they were. It is a great alternative to regular foam if you are looking for an easy maintenance seat cushion.

    Another very easy way to incorporate green design into our work in through the use of environmentally friendly paints like the Benjamin Moore Aura line.

    What can't you live without?
    Sparkly things! I am obsessed with materials that shine and shimmer - iridescent silk taffetas, metallic paints, gold leaf on walls and ceilings, high-gloss Venetian plaster that is infused with silver or gold mica powder, glass-beaded trims, gold-flecked Murano glass light fixtures, silk velvets, anything crystal-encrusted! I always try to work some sparkly materials into my clients' homes, but I do so with a light touch because it can be a difficult thing to sell in big doses. For myself, I push the limits and go for as much shimmer as I think a room can handle. My assistants recently discovered this amazing peach-colored lame fabric that I am in love with-if I could drape my ceiling in this fabric, I would be the happiest person on the planet!

    What is your defining moment as a designer?
    I think my feelings about the importance of interior design changed about a year ago when I designed an apartment for myself and my two children after separating from my then-husband of 13 years. While the experience of designing a home during such a difficult and traumatic time of my life was a serious challenge, it was during that exercise that I fully realized the psychological impact of a well-designed home-not only the end result, but the whole process of creating that home from start to finish. Not only was the experience a cathartic one for me, allowing me a much-needed opportunity to start from scratch and to re-build, but it was an empowering experience in that it showed me how I could put my life back together through putting a home together for myself. To this day, when I come home at the end of a long day, I heave a sigh of relief-I feel happy and relaxed and so fortunate to have such a meaningful place to live, a place that is mine, a place that I created. And when I wake up in the morning, I look around and feel inspired for the day ahead. I truly feel a connection between my home and my ability to lead a productive, successful, and inspired life. While I have always appreciated the beauty of good design, I now feel and understand good design to be so much more. I feel that my role as a designer is so much more significant than I ever thought before, that as a designer I can help people achieve a thoughtfully assembled home which can hopefully provide them with the basis and groundwork from which to build a meaningful life.

    What is your favorite room in your own house or apartment?
    I love my dining room-the warm color palette of orange and purple, the multiple functions of the space, the overall feel of the room. I designed the dining room to be a multi-purpose space so that I could use it not only for dinner parties, but for everyday casual dining as well. I achieved this by lining two walls of the room with bookcases to create a warm, library-like setting, and by incorporating a smallish dining table that I usually have pushed up against one wall where I have positioned an upholstered banquette-the banquette lends the room a more casual, comfortable feel, and at the same time allows for more intimate dining-the banquette is the ultimate seating place for a side-by-side romantic dinner, as well as being my kids' favorite seat at the table. When feeding larger groups, the table can be moved out into the center of the room and extended with leaves, turning the space into more of a traditional dining room. In keeping with the library feel, I have a pair of upholstered club chairs in one area of the room, which further adds to the warmth and comfort of the space. I am particularly fond of the color palette in this room which blends shades of purple and orange, two of my favorite colors. For me this room just glows and exudes warmth. I not only love to eat in this room, but whenever I bring home work from the office, I find myself gravitating to the table in the dining room where I set myself up with my computer or floor plans for a job-it is a great work space.

    How is the recession impacting your work? How do you weave luxury into design during the recession?
    In an ironic way, the recession has had some positive impact on my work. I am finding that many clients-both old and new-want to freshen up their homes because they are finding themselves at home more than they used to, whether as a result of having lost a job or because they are not eating out as much, not going on vacation. Spending more time at home is forcing people to focus more on items they have neglected for some time. People who have ignored maintaining parts of their home for a while now want to tackle these jobs, whether it's repairing cracking walls or just changing the environment with a new wall color, or hanging new curtains for an instantaneous face-lift of a room. People want their homes to be a sanctuary for themselves and their families during these tough times, and we have been able to help so many people in both big and small ways to make their homes more comfortable and livable, more peaceful and more inspiring at the same time.

    I think it is important to feel luxury during hard times, and feel that incorporating luxurious materials into ones home, even in small doses, can propel us to a better, more successful future. Items like an incredibly soft cashmere blanket in a room can provide warmth and comfort, a beautiful leather-bound journal can be the place to write down inspired ideas that can provide motivation-quality accessories that fill the home and spark creativity and engender feelings of peace can truly help in tough times.

    Jennifer Flanders Inc.
    New York



    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to?
    I spent the first 25 years of my life being an absolute blue person but something changed and all of a sudden I became a green person. I wish I could say that is was a call to the environment but I do not think that is the case. Emerald green, pea green, lime green, I love them all and they continue to find a way into my design, project after project.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    I did not decorate my childhood room but I do think it inadvertently had an influence on my style. I remember having a white bamboo type twin headboard with a lime green comforter that had some sort of white bamboo motif going on. Now as an adult, I am bamboo crazy and as the question before testifies, pretty crazy about green. All good things come back around and I think I am currently embracing "my childhood room!"

    What can't you live without?
    I cannot live without my husband, my daughter, my dog, my design books and my magazines. All of these things combined make for a messy home but a home that is mine all mine!

    How is the recession impacting your work?
    The recession is making me work like a crazy woman. Most of my big clients have put the brakes on to some degree. I have a lot of smaller clients now and they want a lot of bang for their buck. This means shopping harder and staying abreast of sales and good sources. Luckily, the design world has a lot to offer in many different price ranges.

    Who are your mentors or influences as a designer?
    My mentors in design are Ralph Harvard in NYC and Michael Carter in Boston. My first design job was working for Ralph as a mere 25 year old pup having just moved to NYC. Ralph taught me the ropes but also introduced me to the architectural and historical side of design. Michael is the only person I worked for in Boston and he taught me so much about the client relationship. Being kind and understanding goes a long way. Sometimes you forget that people are putting a lot of trust and money in your hands to make the place where they eat and sleep special. Lastly, I am really in love with design by Mary McDonald these days. Her work gives me inspiration to go out there and create something FABULOUS!

    Annsley Interiors


    How does living in the Southwest influence your designs?
    Living and working in the southwest definitely has an influence on my design. We live a more casual, laid back lifestyle and our homes reflect that way of living. I always consider the location, architecture and the client when creating the overall concept for the project. When designing in the west, I gravitate towards textures, natural fibers and materials that don't necessarily look "shiny and new". I want my homes be casually elegant, but not feel too "designed or overdone."

    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to?
    I wouldn't say I am drawn to one palette. I LOVE color! Color is what I do best. It is important to me to have fluidity throughout the home. So, whether I use one color or a ton of color, there must be a common thread.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    I did . . . and laughed when I read this question. At 15, I insisted on having wood floors and a futon to make my room feel like an apartment in NYC. I painted the walls with my own artwork (I cringe now thinking about it.) My parents painted the walls white as soon as I left for college!

    What makes you traditional?
    My mom is an interior designer, so I grew up with design. Both of my parents have a very classical sense of style when it comes to fashion and taste. They taught me to splurge on a few staple pieces that you will keep forever and will never go out of style. The "fun" things can be added and changed over time..

    What can't you live without?
    My art collection, luxurious bedding with all the proper stuffings, and my Louis Vuitton trunk!

    What has been your worst design mistake, and what did you learn from it?
    Getting the scale of light fixtures incorrect! I now insist on making templates for all light fixtures (interior and exterior)!!!

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    My three favorite things: art, fabulous window treatments, and a fireplace!

    What has been your defining moment as a designer?
    Installing my first project on Park Avenue in NYC!

    Who are your mentors or influences as a designer?
    My mom (of course). She gave me the genes and opportunity! If I were to pick a famous designer, it would have to be Dorothy Draper. She was Fabulous! (with a capital F). I live and design by her quote, "I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right."

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    I love using reclaimed materials and architectural elements, i.e.: wood flooring, beams, tile, etc. Also, there are so many fabric and furniture manufacturers doing their part and making it easier for our industry to go green.

    Vallone Design

    New York

    What can't you live without?
    I can't live without Paris right now; I am completely in love with the city again after leaving it in my 20's. I also couldn't live without my books, even if they are taking over my life currently!

    Who are your mentors, or who is a designer whose work you admire?
    I have always admired Axel Vervoordt's work; his sense of history and patina and austerity. I was recently in Madrid and visited the atelier of Lorenzo Castillo which I found to be very chic and inspired in the way he mixed pieces. The whole collection was housed in an old palace that was charmingly rustic, intimate and grand at the same time.

    What aspects of your work would you describe as "traditional"?
    I am drawn to pieces with classical influences and appreciate the fine workmanship of old-world fabric houses such as Zuber and Fortuny. My work is traditional in the sense that I incorporate antiques and decorative detailing but I am also drawn to the discipline and restraint of modern design.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    I have always had strong opinions about decorating, much to my mother's chagrin. In my favorite room growing up, I chose a hand blocked floral wallpaper with layers upon layers of hydrangeas. Pink, coral and terracota flowers on a dark chocolate back round. I chose an antique pale pink silk spread for the walnut four poster bed and a mahogany cheval mirror. I loved the wallpaper so much that I insisted having it again when we moved.

    How do you weave luxury into your design during this recession?
    Incorporating a statement piece or two is always a wise investment and especially at this time. Buying a piece that one wants to live with forever, rather than spending money just filling space helps to nourish a sense of security and permanence.

    Emma Jane Pilkington Fine Interiors
    New York


    What can't you live without?
    The new Christian Liaigre book, LIAIGRE. My team-they make it fun to come to work everyday! B. Kamins Maple Night Cream-with the long days (and sometimes nights!) running two businesses, a girl needs a good face cream to keep her looking young!

    Kings of Leon-they rock my world at the moment. The Mercer.

    What is your favorite room in your house or apartment?
    My kitchen overlooks a gorgeous private courtyard. I designed it to feel very European, and very cozy, with rich wood countertops and dark painted cabinetry. I love sitting around the table with girlfriends, a bottle of wine (and by wine I mean Miller Lite), and something cooking in my black Aga stove (and by cooking I mean take-out).

    Does fashion influence your design work?
    Absolutely! I actually look to fashion magazines first. Fashion moves so much faster than interiors, so finding inspiration from color and fabric trends from the fashion world always pushes me to think outside the box.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    Redecorating your room when you graduated from 8th grade was a rite of passage in my home. I rebelled against the pink floral bedroom of my youth by going all white which was pretty outrageous at the time! I mixed two different white-on-white wallpapers, one stripe one check, I chose a white metal bed from Crate and Barrel, and even had my very own Nagel poster (hey, it was the '80s!).

    .Do you have a defining moment as a designer?
    Opening my own practice. I have always been very entrepreneurial but there was something absolutely magical about seeing my name on the door.

    Kara Mann Design


    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to, and if so, why?
    I am drawn to neutral and soft colors because they are elegant, calming and understated but also very versatile. I appreciate the subtle sophistication of quiet monochromatic design schemes. Softer, neutral palettes also showcase special antique pieces and interesting art and accessories well.

    What makes you traditional?
    I am drawn to all things that feel classic yet fresh. Whether shopping for clothes or designing a room, I prefer a classic, tailored look with beautiful fabrics and simple, well-designed pieces. I firmly believe that good design is timeless. I appreciate and enjoy traditional pieces such as beautiful old furniture, classical drawings, fine linens, estate silver and monograms, but I am also a sucker for old rituals such as a well-executed dinner party and thoughtful thank you notes written on beautiful stationery.

    What can't you live without?
    My Louis XVI style dining chairs with original finish and mohair Fine linens: I love the beautiful details and monograms offered by Leontine Linens.
    My kitchen dining area banquette: serves as a gathering place for family and friends, has a seat cushion upholstered in ultra-suede that is very durable, and is complete with a cookbook shelf for all my favorite cookbooks. Fresh flowers.
    Cashmere sweaters in winter and little dresses in summer. My white Goyard tote bag (works for "mom days" and "work days" alike). Good food: anything my husband cooks, lobster enchiladas from Georgia Grill, cheeses from Star Provisions, chicken salad from Swan Coach House and definitely dessert (the cupcakes and cookies from Le Lapin are irresistible).
    Family photos.
    My daughter's smile.

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    Luxurious fabrics such as velvets, mohairs, silks and wool sateens. Quality, meaningful art.
    An unexpected element that catches you by surprise but undoubtedly works in the room.

    Who are your mentors or influences as a designer?
    I have great respect for Dan Carithers whom I worked for before embarking on my own career. He has an unerring, innate sense of composition and works with color in such a restrained and elegant way. He also mixes formal pieces with more relaxed pieces creating rooms that feel stylish but comfortable and never stuffy. From Dan, I also learned that "God is in the details."

    I have also always loved the classically elegant style of Frances Elkins and the chic look of Billy Baldwin.

    Susan Dowhower Interiors

    New York

    How does living in New York influence your designs?
    The numerous number of talented and artistic professionals in New York are what makes my work come to life and speak for itself, i.e., painters, upholsterers, curtainmakers, cabinetmakers, etc. The accessibility to design related showrooms and vendors in New York also influence greatly. They are convenient and the access allows first hand interaction with the products which in turn is very inspiring when creating designs.

    Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to, and if so, why?
    I personally like blue as a favorite color probably because it is my favorite color to wear, but when it comes to designing an interior space, I always let the client drive me towards the palette they feel comfortable with and then I perfect it.

    Did you decorate your childhood room?
    My childhood room was not decorated per se. I definitely changed it around at least every other month, but the one thing that stayed consistent were the walls. They were a massive collage of all things that interested me, as well as memorabilia from things I had done. I wish I had photographs of it now so I could look back on it and reminisce.

    What three things make a room fabulous?
    Color, comfort, and sensibility

    How are you incorporating green design into your work?
    Many clients are asking for it and so we continuously follow the research and new products that are on the market. Wool rugs and sisal rugs are great. Hemp fabrics are great. Antiques are definitely a way to recycle. Aura Paints from Benjamin Moore are very environmentally friendly as are many other lines of paint. Warm fluorescent bulbs are available now that you cannot tell the difference from incandescent. Avoiding oil paints when possible.

    j.d. bell inc.
    New York

    Little Rock

    What distinguishes your work from other young designers'?
    The bold use of color and pattern that I incorporate in my designs is the hallmark of my signature style. My design work is not for the faint of heart when it comes color! It is definitely full of drama.

    What can you not live without?

    There is not much I cannot live without, but in reference to design, I would be really really sad if I could not use Christopher Spitzmiller lamps! I know they have been often used and photographed, but I never grow tired of them. And I especially love the personal service from Christopher's company. Just last week, Christopher called my office himself to make sure that everything was perfect with an order. You just don't get that sort of hands-on customer care anymore and it is the sort of Southern charm that I am used to but Christopher is a New Yorker so it is even more of a treat!

    What makes you traditional?
    There are lots of things that make me traditional. My designs are rooted in classic forms. I love Traditional sihouettes in both interiors and in fashion. My style icons are Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Coco Channel, Dorothy Draper. And I especially am traditional when it comes to scale. I love furniture lines like Hickory Chair who have a timeless quality about them because the scale is ultra traditional and refined!

    What are three things that make a room fabulous?
    Well, fabulous happens to be my favorite word so I think many things are fabulous! But three must-haves for a successful design . . . 1) Several conversation areas in a room to maximize seating! I especially love multi-purpose furniture peices like benches and ottomans that make entertaining groups easy! 2) Dimmers!!! I am a huge fan of layered lighting. Though I rarely use overhead lighting it is sometimes necessary and I love dimmers on everything, especially lamps! 3) Room-sized rugs. The most popular part of my designs are often the rugs. I create many custom room-sized carpets with companies like New River Artisans that make even large spaces warm and cozy!

    How do you weave luxury into your designs in this economy?
    I use accent pieces to accomplish luxury when clients are trying to be conservative. By splurging on smaller pieces like lamps to add impact you can minimize expense. And I try to use smaller amounts of signature fabrics as accents like on pillow fronts or side chairs as opposed to the entire drapery as I might do with larger budgets. I also encourage clients to always splurge on fine art. Original does not necessarily have to mean expensive but it certainly means unique. I suggest clients buy the most expensive art that they can afford. Investing in a piece of art that you really love is never a bad idea because unlike furniture and fabric, original artwork never goes out of style.

    Tobi Fairley Interior Design
    Little Rock, Arkansas