Posts Tagged: interior designers

Sep 16

A Collaboration Is Born: A conversation with designer Mark D. Sikes

Fashion designer, interior designer, and blogger, Mark D. Sikes brings his spirited take on California living to his first rug collection, created in collaboration with the Merida design team. We chatted with Mark about the inspiration behind the California Stripes collection, his roots in fashion, and his lifelong obsession with stripes.

What role do rugs play in your projects?

Rugs play a huge role for me. They’re the beginning of a scheme and set the foundation of every room. I’m not the kind of designer that starts with a big antique rug. I tend to gravitate toward natural fiber rugs, or something like a striped dhurrie – which is what this collection is all about. I also like to layer rugs, a natural fiber with a different style of rug on top.

Presidio Chocolate

Why do you source Merida rugs for so many of your projects?

I use a lot of different rugs and Merida’s product far exceeds most of the competitors out there. Seeing how Merida develops their rugs, I have a better appreciation for the quality of their yarns and their craftsmanship, and also the value of their expertise. They’re problem solvers and will work with you to figure things out, and for a designer it’s important to have that collaboration. There’s a high level of client service that’s just part of their brand.

How do the dhurries in this collection compare to traditional handwoven dhurries?

We wanted to capture the look of a vintage dhurrie, but thicker, more durable. When you look at the construction, the quality of the wool yarns, these rugs are made to last. We worked hard to get the details right – the colors, the striations and shade bands, and the finishing. The end result is a collection that is timeless and beautiful.

Palisades Denim

Where do you see designers using these rugs in their projects?

I genuinely believe they work in any space, and in any location in the country. They look great layered in a bedroom, as a foundational rug for a family room, as runners in hallways. The collection has a lot of range and the rugs are incredibly versatile. They’re alive, they’re happy, and they’re very cool.

Montecito Chambray

Montecito Chambray

What surprised you most about the process of creating a rug collection?

Working with Merida on this, I’ve come to appreciate all the detail that goes into it. Just the steps involved in getting a color exactly right can be a very long process. I will never look at a rug the same way again. As a designer it was important to be a part of that process, and I also think it’s important for consumers to understand how much is involved to create a rug of this quality.

What was it like collaborating with the Merida design team?

What impressed me most from the beginning of the process is how creative it was. I was very inspired by the way they accumulated inspiration to visualize what a collection could be. After an initial conversation with their creative director, Roxanne Hanna, she and her team presented mood boards. I love mood boards and I really liked how the creative conversation started. Throughout the collaboration the creative process was always at the forefront.

Their design process is also very structured and organized. There’s a lot of communication, and we always had integration points where we shared ideas and would tweak things. I appreciate structure because I tend to work that way as well. I was focused on the aesthetic and the look, and working with Merida I knew I could count on them for the quality, the durability and the value the rugs provide.

Brentwood Red

What was the inspiration for the collection?

The collection is very much inspired by traditional dhurries, which I started gravitating towards about ten years ago. I buy vintage dhurries and tend to use them a lot in projects. I layer them, cut them, make runners out of them. A lot of images in my new book (Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style) were taken prior to my collaboration with Merida, and you see me using these types of rugs in many different ways, whether it’s casual or formal, east coast or west coast.

One source of inspiration was a photograph of a Billy Baldwin room – at Villa Fiorentina, on the Mediterranean in the south of France – with all this blue furniture and a huge striped dhurrie in the center of the room. The photo was taken more than forty years ago, but the room looks great today and will look great forty years from now.

Image Billy Baldwin Remembers via Peak of Chic

Stripes are a big part of your brand. What does a stripe do for you?

Anyone who knows me knows I love stripes, in both fashion and interiors. Stripes are season-less… timeless and classic. There’s a graphic nature to it that works with everything. It can work with a floral print or a batik. Stripes go with anything and there’s something appealing about it that makes a room approachable.

Palisades Denim

How does your fashion background inform your interior design approach?

Working in fashion you learn so much about solid and print, hard and soft, classic and trend – that all relates to interior design. And the way you merchandise or lay out a store is similar to how you would do a living room. The fundamentals are the same.

Presidio Chocolate

As a designer, what’s most important to you in a partner?

Besides the quality of their rugs, what attracted me to Merida was the integrity of the company and the people. When I first met [CEO and owner] Catherine Connolly and [creative director] Roxanne Hanna, there was this feeling that there was a common sense of who we all were. And that’s a special thing that’s hard to translate. There’s a genuine spirit to what they do that’s really important, and that spirit comes across in the finished product.

Brentwood Red

Explore California Stripes

Sep 16

A Refined Retreat in Upstate New York – Q&A With Designer Brittany Bromley

When an energetic city-dwelling family needed to cement a permanent country retreat, they sought the help of Brittany Bromley Interiors to make their new place feel like home away from home. With a blend of classic and modern style and an eye towards functionality, Brittany Bromley gave this architecturally charming home an elegant and energetic design. We caught up with Brittany to see what makes her tick and to take a closer look at this beautiful Upstate New York project.

Where do you draw inspiration from to start your design process?

From the beginning, I take classical and traditional design ideas and try to infuse them with modern functionality that reflects my clients’ personalities. In my own design ethos I am extremely drawn to symmetry, but I am also aware that too many pairs begins to feel a bit like Noah’s Ark. So I try to offset each of those pairs with an occasional chair, stool or something that throws off the balance of the room and gives it interest.

Featuring a Bora Bora jute rug.

I love the idea of taking the eye on a journey around the room. Having things at high and low levels is important for that to be a satisfying journey. Last but not least I never forget to include some “life” in every room that I design. I am a huge believer in greenery and plants—mother nature is the world’s finest Designer and I adore including her work in anything that I design.

Featuring Tonga Deep Sea.

How did the architecture and character of the house help inform your design choices?

This is a home with lots of natural light and that is the greatest gift of all. We can do lots of things with our magic bag of tricks as designers, but one thing we cannot change is the architecture. Having that as a starting platform on which to build is always ideal.

Featuring a custom Catalyst wool & linen rug.

My clients have three young children and the architecture of the house plays well to having breezy rooms suffused with a casual elegance. The high ceiling height allowed us to really play up wall and window treatments, and use both as punctuation for the furniture in the rooms. Also, many of the rooms on the first floor open with high and wide doorways so the color palette needed to make sense from one room to the next.

What role did our rugs play in your design process?

Merida is where I turn to first for floor coverings on any project. Their selection of both natural fiber and wool rugs is unparalleled and rugs are the foundation for any room. I am also a big believer in supporting the artisanal craftsmanship Merida is known for, and I love their idea of merging technology with traditional forms of weaving to create designs that are exceptional but that still put quality and integrity first.

Featuring Antwerp Belgian Linen.

In this instance we knew we were going to have a lot of textural and graphic wall treatments on the first floor and so the rugs in those rooms needed to be bold enough texture-wise to stand up to the wall treatments, but not so bold that they would begin to take away from some of the pattern play.

Featuring Tonga Deep Sea

As there’s no separation between the dining room and the front parlor we needed to have something that would visually work with the design in both of those rooms. We settled on the very graphic textural nature of the sisal because it is sophisticated enough to work with our silk covered French chairs, but rustic enough that it doesn’t put our 18th century Swedish Gustavian dining table to shame!

Featuring Antwerp Belgian Linen.

Featuring Antwerp Belgian Linen.

Perhaps the most important and agonizing decision we made in the house design as a whole was that of the staircase and hallway runner. After much deliberation we eventually settled on a custom colorway of Merida’s Catalyst rug.

This rug allowed us to unite the color scheme of the public areas in the first and second floors and also served as the graphic punch that one sees upon entering the home. It’s youthful, fun and sophisticated, which happen to be exactly the words that I would use to describe this young family. And of all of the many design choices that we made in this beautiful home, it is the one that is most remarked upon and continues to be what everyone compliments.

What was your favorite room or vignette to design?

Honestly the entire house was really a joy, but if I had to pick one room in particular it would be the master bedroom. My clients live primarily in the city and, as all of us former city-dwellers do, they spent very little time in their bedroom due to its size.

Featuring Cortina Avalanche wool & sisal rug with a fireplace cut-out.

Country living brings a much slower pace of life, so I was very focused on creating a beautiful sitting area in the master bedroom where this couple could retire to read the paper or do other leisurely activities. The restful colors of pale celadon, pale coral and cream suffuse this room with a calming energy, and the ample sitting area makes the room feel well appointed.

My clients adore the end result, and so do I, it’s a tranquil retreat from the hectic life of a young family—which is truly the ultimate gift!

Who or what has been your greatest influence as a designer?

I was very fortunate to be raised in beautiful homes by extremely aesthetically minded parents who were constantly collecting and curating. It was an inspiring environment to grow up in and it gave me what we laughingly call a high quotient for “everyday beauty!”

Some of the designers whose work I am most inspired by are Alessandra Branca, Tom Scheerer, Mary McDonald, and Thomas Britt.

What energizes you?

I love the idea of being able to help people live the way that they aspire to live. Everyone is different, and the home in which each individual wants to live is extremely specific to that person. I love that I get to be the interpreter, and to take each of those specific wants and needs and translate them into an environment in which they feel like the best version of themselves.

All photos by Jane Beiles


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Jul 16

Q&A with Mark Cunningham: Finding Life in the Unexpected

Photo: Richard Powers / Architectural Digest

As long time friends and fans of Mark Cunningham Inc. we were thrilled to see their stunning Greenwich, Connecticut project in August’s Architectural Digest. Mark Cunningham is known for his discerning eye, his singular interior compositions, and his ability to leave a unique imprint with each project.

We caught up with Mark to gain insights into his design philosophy, sources of inspiration, and a little background on this recently published project. In addition to the Greenwich project, Mark Cunningham Inc. was also featured in Architectural Digest last September.

What energizes you?

Unexpected places definitely energize me. What is uncovered through exploration is always a mystery worth seeking. Finding a special object or piece at the end of a long search is always extremely rewarding. The discovery process can also result in looking for new meaning in a piece. Inspiration can always be found in the most obscure things by transforming a particular detail into something new.

What excites you the most while working on a project?

The transformation of space, by taking something from its current state and discovering its new identity, fuels me. I allow myself to carefully craft a well thought out narrative for each project I tackle. I truly am the author of my own exciting story with each project I work on.

Featuring Madagascar Locust. Photo: Richard Powers / Architectural Digest

Who or what has been your greatest influence as a designer?

Being from the west, I’ve always found inspirations in rarely explored places. I would describe myself as an “off the beaten path” seeker. My projects have given me the incredible opportunity to travel all over the world. My years working at Ralph Lauren were also very influential and memorable.

Featuring Mandacaru City. Photo: William Waldron / Architectural Digest

What aspect of design do you find the most challenging and rewarding?

Every piece I curate for a project is important, however it’s the unexpected items that really bring life to the spaces I design. Finding and integrating these elements is often the most challenging and rewarding part of the process.

Featuring Bora Bora Volcano. Photo: William Waldron / Architectural Digest

How well do you have to know a client before you understand exactly what they are looking for and how you will go about achieving it?

The relationships I have with my clients make each project unique. Through collaboration, my designs compliment their lifestyles and fulfill new aspirations for the life they would like to live in their new space.

How does restraint play into your design process?

Everything I use to fill a space has a purpose. Instinctively, I exercise restraint when decorating by never filling a space just because I can. My philosophy is that the absence of something is just as important as the pieces I find.

Featuring Rift Natural. Photo: Richard Powers / Architectural Digest

Last fall, you toured Merida’s mill with your team.  Tell us something that surprised you during your visit.

I was moved by the attention to detail that each artisan brings to the table. My visit to the Merida Mill was special for me, because I have always appreciated the art of craftsmanship, and to see the process first hand was very enlightening.

While working on the Greenwich project how did the architectural style of the house affect your plan?

The Tudor style of the house on the exterior is somewhat formal and imposing. I wanted to make the interiors comfortable and less formal and to bring in the light.

Photo: Richard Powers / Architectural Digest

Featuring Cordova Nutmeg. Photo: Richard Powers / Architectural Digest

What role did our rugs play in your design process?

Merida rugs played a large part throughout the house because of their versatility, selection and price. The living room and study are both natural woven rugs, abaca and sisal. The master bedroom is a cream colored wool and the guest bedrooms are carpeted in tight textured wools.

Featuing a custom version of Troy. photo: Richard Powers / Architectural Digest

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Apr 16

The Story Behind the Stairs: Naomi Watts’ Apartment by Ashe+Leandro

photo: Douglas Friedman/Architectural Digest

Last month Architectural Digest featured Naomi Watts’ NYC apartment renovation project designed by Ashe + Leandro. During this project Ashe + Leandro came to us to create a bespoke runner on a unique set of stairs. The motif was derived from our collaboration with the duo on a new line of hand-woven sisal and suede rugs.

Both the runner and the new collection were inspired by vintage Tuareg rugs. Since a handwoven rug would obviously not be appropriate for a lengthy runner on a curving staircase, we created a versatile motif in wool that makes a bold statement while also serving as a neutral.

We started by recommending a wool woven construction similar to some our Tailormade rugs. Tailormade is a popular choice for stair runners due to its durability and low profile. Working with the Jacquard loom allowed us to weave exactly the size we needed for each individual stair, in-house, with minimal waste. The field was a blend of two colors of undyed wool, our Fawn and Beige. The motif was undyed wool in the color Loam, a dark earthy gray with a hint of brown.

Since the project was a new renovation, we started with the staircase architectural plans. Working from the plans allowed us to design a rug section to fit each specific stair. Upon visiting the site we realized that the built staircase differed from plans and the builder had made an onsite change to flare out the bottom four stairs. Our Service and Installation Director Bob Margies worked with Ashe+Leandro and our textile designers to make the motif just the right size to fit on the risers and determine exactly how much total material to weave.

Bob Margies and Reinaldo Leandro determined that tailoring the margins to stay consistent as the steps widen, rather than using a standard runner width, was the best option for finishing the rug. Margies mocked up the layout with painter’s tape to confirm the concept.

Material for each stair was cut out and installed individually by one of our trusted installers. As with all of the installation projects we manage, Margies personally qualified him. Adding to the challenges was the fact that the client had come in on a redeye flight the morning before the install, so we needed to work quietly for several hours.

The install went smoothly and all parties were thrilled with the results. As Margies put it, “Working with the right people makes it easier. To have every step cut, hemmed, shaped, and installed on site — not a lot of companies have this ability or expertise. I can’t stress enough the advantages of including us at the beginning of a project. With our carefully vetted network of installers and our 20 years experience in weaving we can help you realize your design vision and expand your idea of what’s possible with rugs and installations.“

View the Ashe + Leandro for Merida collection >

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