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Publication Date: 2017-09-29

Design Insights

Inside Miles Redd's Decorating Philosophy

If there's one interior designer who isn't afraid of color and pattern, it's Miles Redd. His statement rooms, often filled with a clever mix of relaxed and luxurious elements, have been featured in leading shelter magazines and never fail to resonate. Here, Redd makes a case for embracing a dose of drama in a room, reflects on revamping his childhood home, and reveals what inspires him as a designer. 

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Q: You’re not afraid of bold colors, high-gloss walls, and mixing patterns. Would you consider these your signature, or are you thinking of moving on? What's next?

A: I find pattern and color irresistible. I cannot help myself. It's just the way my mind works and how I see the world. Of course, I am going to put that emerald green silk lampshade on a Chinese blue and white lamp next to a zebra skin rug, because it looks good to me. It is a gift. However, I would like to point out that white and beige are colors and a big part of me loves a kind of spartan simplicity. I want to flex that muscle more. The bottom line is that I love it all, and I am going to do what my clients want me to do for them.

Q: Your fabric line for Schumacher has been a huge success, and is remarkable for its diversity and range—everything from classic stripes to reimagined florals. What is your trick for mixing patterns without going overboard? And what are you thinking about for new additions to your line?

A: I like a push-pull in fabric layering, organic next to geometric. It gives a certain tension, which makes decorating dynamic. I can almost feel when a room is off balance, where it has too much of one thing and not enough of another. One has to get the whole feeling of the room around the room, if that makes sense. If you use a floral, dab a little bit around the room—a chair here, a pillow there. It gives cohesion. Also, I always incorporate a big pile of things I love when building a room, and then edit the space. The less you use, the stronger it becomes. I am a big believer in working from the ground up. Get the walls and floors right and the rest is easy.

What is next? I would love to find a way to do gaufraged silk velvets in a way that is reasonable. It has always been so expensive, but with technology today, perhaps there is a way. 

Q: You have a unique way of bringing new energy to tradition and making antiques seem hip. Do you have a favorite period and style? Is there a period from the past, or a designer, who you find particularly interesting and intriguing right now?

A: I really do love every period and style. Every decade has something to offer. I like when someone recognizes a correlation of ideas and puts them together in a new way. I believe there are no new ideas—just new ways of putting things together. We all borrow from each other. I am always flattered when someone borrows from me, because it means I have hit a chord inside of them to keep the shifts and changes happening. I love what Blackman Cruz does with 19th-century paw-foot furniture and modern tops. Gerald Bland is brilliant at tweaking classic styles and making them feel modern. I saw carved feet François Catroux was making for a sofa that looked like dinosaur feet. It was a curious take on animal foot furniture. If you borrow a lot, it is research. If you borrow from one, it is plagiarism. Sometimes I plagiarize and somehow it works in decorating because no two rooms are alike.

Q: What was the most challenging part of revamping your childhood home in Atlanta?

A: That was pretty easy because it was all there. It was just not arranged in a way that made sense. It was always a big point of irritation for me, but my mom is stubborn and it is her house. She came to a point where she did not like what she saw, and just said, "Do it. I don’t care anymore." I just spent a day pushing things around and reworking art. It was my dad, who is not super visual when it comes to decorating, that really felt and enjoyed the change. I thought that was interesting. He could feel the improvement. He saw the things he lived with all his life in a new way just because we tweaked or rearranged them. That is the power of decorating.

Q: You have a real talent for displaying accessories with flair and drama. What's the secret to styling a table or mantel with favorite objects without succumbing to boring symmetry or overkill?

A: I go back to push-pull, tension and disparate objects—organic next to geometry, crumbly next to shiny, old on new. It really is just a gut feeling of what is working or not. My advice is to keep throwing stuff up until it feels good and don’t be afraid of scale.

Q: Your favorite museum is The Metropolitan Museum of Art. How does art influence your work as a designer?

A: You see a great talent or idea and it inspires you. YOU DESIRE IT. That is what good design and art are about. YOU WANT IT. I look to the greats—and the Met has its share of all the greats—and say to them, "Make me better. Show me what you see. Teach me what you know." That is what art does. It makes us better.

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