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October 31, 2021

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Design that honors history, location and architecture

WHO is she?

Kelly Wearstler is the founder and principal of Kelly Wearstler design studio. She is an American designer creating multifaceted and experiential residential, hospitality, commercial and retail environments, as well as expansive collections of lifestyle product designs and brand collaborations. Wearstler believes that honoring history, location and architecture is imperative to pushing the boundaries and challenging the rules. She received her academic training in interior, architectural and graphic design, and is the author of five design books.

Tell us about some of your work, and name the one you are most proud of.

My newest collection, Transcendence, includes a range of furniture, lighting and décor, all celebrating the vibrant energy of Southern California. It explores irregular silhouettes and new textures, colors and raw materials. One of my favorite pieces from the collection is the Rarity Large Bowl, because of its fluid form and naturally occurring variations in color, which makes for a uniquely impactful statement piece. The organic shape was hand carved by artisans, creating a mould in which the pigmented concrete could be poured.

What project are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a new initiative, expanding my e-commerce platform to include curated, special commissions by emerging global designers and artists, beginning with the introduction of Netherlands-based art collective Rotganzen. Launched on October 14, Rotganzen debuted five limited edition works inspired by the city of Los Angeles from their Quelle Fête series. It has been a dream of mine to share some of the artists that inspire me most with my clients and fans around the world.

Describe your design style.

My style is always evolving, but I favor natural materials that channel a sense of effortless luxury. It is important that each project references its surroundings, to create a truly localized experience that fits seamlessly into its environment. To me, luxury is about textures and sensations but also storytelling. It is the compilation of a collection of objects, each with its own history and character arranged in harmonious composition. Each piece has a unique and inspired narrative to tell, and it is when these narratives are nurtured within a space that it truly comes to life. Often, this is cultivated by juxtaposition, indoor and outdoor elements, contemporary and classic, masculine and feminine, raw and refined — a sense of no boundaries or restrictions on style without sacrificing comfort and usability.

Where are you most creative?

Drawing inspiration from local surroundings and environment has always been an essential part of my creative process. Every architectural structure is a direct link to its location, the culture, the history, what is literally outside the door and can be seen from the windows. I like to say that my proper hotels are “fiercely local,” because we draw so much inspiration from the surrounding environment to inform the design.

What does your home mean to you?

Our house in Beverly Hills is the house we live in full time. It is such a dream living there. The house was originally built in 1926 as a Spanish Colonial, and remodeled as a Georgian around 1934 by architect James E. Dolena. We purchased the home in 2005 from the Broccoli family. Albert R. Broccoli was the producer and creator of the James Bond films. It is situated on 3 acres (1.21 hectares). The architecture and history make it distinctive. It has such a cool and rich Hollywood history. When we purchased the home we added about 4,000 square feet (371.61sqm), as the house needed to be adapted to modern living. The architectural additions and modifications were done historically. However, the furnishings are by a mélange of progressive contemporary furniture designers and artists, with important vintage furniture and curated unique finds.

What do you collect?

I love to collect new and exciting pieces from emerging designers around the world. Paper Pulp Chair by Thomas Barger is a powder blue stool made out of paper pulp. The Brooklyn-based artist uses this unusual material to produce cartoonish furniture. This triangular blue stool immediately caught my eye and was the first piece I bought from the Frieze Art Fair, so it’s particularly special to me.

What will be the next big design trend?

Terracotta will continue to be a key color trend, as we continue to look to our homes to offer comfort and sanctuary. The shade is not only versatile, it is also inherently warming and effortlessly complements a growing desire for handcrafted objects made from natural materials such as rattan, seagrass and linen. Technology will also continue to be a huge influence on design and materiality, making interiors more and more refined, comfortable and sustainable.


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