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.
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.
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