Invest in Individuality

There are two events at the beginning of the year which I find indispensable as an interior designer: High Point Market on the East coast, and the La Cienega Design Quarter’s annual Legends event on the West Coast. High Point, NC is a picturesque town that bursts into a bustling city every spring and fall as it plays host to an extensive list of showrooms exhibiting their latest collection of wares, attracting buyers from all over the world. Attending is equivalent to placing a finger directly on the pulse of current home design trends.  Here I can see finishes up close, sit in the upholstery I specify, and take in all of the practical information I use to ultimately make the decisions that go into my designs.. The core of the three-day Legends gala in West Hollywood pivots around panel discussions featuring a panoply of industry celebrities and insiders hosted by top showrooms in the design district. Attending allows me to connect with colleagues and engage in the most relevant topics affecting interior design today– everything from new challenges in the industry, successful business practices, and the latest design trends.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

This year, the concept that was hammered home at both of these events was the importance of ‘one of a kind.’ It reaches to the very root of why we design in the first place: to create something comfortable, that makes us happy, that is uniquely ours. While the trend in the world is making better design more accessible- something I, as an appreciator of design, cannot in good conscience be against!- it also makes our sanctuaries less unique. As someone who feels best when my home is like a fingerprint, as individual and varied in collection and assembly as I am in interests, it’s more important than ever to go off the beaten path when creating a space for myself or a client.

In High Point, the most successful companies have adapted to this notion, understanding that the future lies in offering customization. Just a few years ago, a sofa was only available in the exact measurement in which it was originally offered, and a server might come in only 2 or 3 finishes. At Market this spring, I noticed that more and more manufacturers have modified their factories to allow that same sofa to be made in a myriad of customizable dimensions. “Made to measure” now even has its own acronym: M2M! The same holds true for finishes. Many of the better manufacturers offer a wide range of finishes on a given case piece (wood as opposed to upholstery), plus almost anything the designer can dream up, with any hardware imaginable.  For one particular project, we are sending wallpaper and antique mirror to be incorporated into the door panels of a buffet. Just a few years ago, this kind of customization would have been unheard of.

At Legends this year, the overt theme was One of a Kind: the vintage, the found, the customized.  Items that no one can have but you! This is “the nugget,” the trend to remember, and what I love is that it’s a trend rooted in design with personal meaning. Collecting furnishings and accessories from our travels, or the traditional places, like antique shows, or the Rose Bowl Flea Market is still as fun and as relevant as ever. But the conscientious collector should add to his or her arsenal with new, amazing online resources like Chairish, Viyet, One Kings Lane, 1st Dibs, and (one of my favorites) LiveAuctioneers.com, to name just a few. These resources make rooting for treasure easier than ever.

At the heart of the idea of one of a kind is having things that tell a story about you, and family pieces are a part of that.  Heirlooms that have special meaning are opportunities to narrate our story. Accentuating a piece in an unexpected way through refinishing or non-traditional use can be both nostalgic and modern. I have a single, very baroque sterling candlestick of my mother’s that I had made into a table lamp. Paired with a modern shade, it looks smart and sophisticated.  I love it, and I think of her every time I look at it.

As an interior designer, I've always been an adamant proponent of that which is unique.  But I don’t know that this has ever been a more valuable refrain than it is right now, as we find ourselves swimming in a sea of ready-made convenience.  It’s a handiness no one can deny: it’s easy and it’s fast!  But in this age of pick and click design, everyone is composing from the same limited notes, making the one-of-a-kind items we collect and curate along life’s journey more valuable than ever. There is a time and a place for off-the-rack furniture– I would balk at suggesting a really high-end couch to a family with young children, after all!– but when you do find yourself making use of it, try mixing in pieces from different sources to avoid looking like one brand’s ad.

In my opinion, the most desirable and sought-after design elements are those that are individually discovered and bent to your own imagining. Having a signature style makes a home smart, personal, and completely distinguishes it from a page torn out of a catalog. One of a kind pieces are a great first step in accomplishing a space that is as individual as you are.

Until next time, here's to creating your own Noble Spaces !