Check it out here. Thanks Franki.
Designer Interview: Patricia Gray
Jan de Luz once said: "Style…isn’t something that you apply like hand cream. It comes from within, as an emanation from your own being. Life is the canvas and style is the grooming point of view.” In the case of Patricia Gray, style certainly does come from within. Her designs are studied and precise while being completely livable and inviting. Her stylistic point of view is timeless and classic, yet still maintains an undeniable modern edge.
Just where does this master from Vancouver, B.C. find her inspiration? Let's find out as we learn more about award-winning interior designer Patricia Gray in an interview with Venti Cup...
Like many designers, you found yourself decorating your family home as a child. When did you know this was what you wanted to do for a living?
I didn’t know that there was a profession of Interior Design until I was 20. I was helping a friend decorate her new home and she was reading the newspaper and saw an add for a local department store that was advertising for an Interior Designer and she said to me “That is what you should do.” I immediately knew this was what I had to do for my life’s work.
Who were your early influences or idols in the design field?
I had a wonderful teacher in Design School. The first class of his I attended was History of 18th & 19th Century French and English Furniture. I can remember being totally inspired. He was a graduate of Parsons School of Design and was my Mentor to go on and study History of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Paris with Parsons. I was also very inspired by the work of Michael Taylor, David Hicks and Angelo Donghia.
Your spaces manage to be at once modern yet warm, a seemingly difficult balance to achieve. What do you draw upon for inspiration?
My inspirations are so many and varied. I love fine antiques, beautiful fabrics and anything that is well designed and fabricated. I am also very interested in the design coming out of Europe right now by talented product designers who are creating and thinking outside the box. Also travel to countries that have different cultures than ours is very educational and helps me to see things in a new ways.
How would you define your style?
That is an interesting question to answer because my style is continually evolving and changing depending on the project I am working on. I usually start with a neutral pallette and get all the elements of the space correct, and then I add in color, texture and pattern with furnishings, artwork, accessories. I like to have a theme that runs through my work and I always start with something that inspires me. Sometimes I take my cue from the character of the house and or the clients. Right now I am just finishing up the re-design of an 80 year old Tudor mansion in Vancouver. I tried to stay true to the character of the original house but added in some modern elements like Wengee wood flooring in the kitchen and family room that ties into the color of the inlaid border of the existing antique oak floors in the living room and dining room. For the furnishings I mixed traditional pieces with very contemporary lighting fixtures to bring the home into the 21 Century.
You studied for a time in Paris. How did this influence your approach to interior design?
I learned about scale first hand, which you cannot learn out of a text book and this is very important in designing interior architecture. I got to see centuries old antiquity and fine materials and quality workmanship. The French have such a high regard for their artists. Having knowledge of history is a good background to have. To understand how we have come to the point where we are in history gives a context to create in ways that are unique and valid for the times we are living in.
I had a great client and a great team of skilled people to work with. My client gave me complete artistic freedom and his trust and confidence in me. That is a very wonderful thing to have in a working relationship. I had never done anything that was this completely Contemporary. It pushed me to look at everything differently and in the process I discovered a whole new way of approaching design beyond my current context.
I love the quote by Christian Liagre: “There are no great designers, only great clients”.
One of my favorite Patricia Gray spaces is the Yaletown apartment with its sweeping views of the city – and that glorious Moooi Dandelion pendant. Do you have a favorite project?
There are some aspects of each project that are great, but the Gastown project was my favorite and most memorable to date. The Yaletown apartment had a few givens when I took on the project. There was existing flooring and some furnishings already in place. It is a misconception that Interior Designers have to throw everything out and start from scratch. I started by editing what was already there and then judiciously adding in new elements to bring the whole scheme together. The wonderful Moooi Dandelion pendant was the final finishing touch to add a bit of whimsy to the room.
You are an award-winning interior designer who has just launched a (very popular) blog. What is it about blogging that interested you, and are you enjoying the process?
I started Blogging as a medium to catalogue, file and sort through all my thoughts, resources and inspirations. I enjoy it because it allows me freedom of expression that is unrelated to any projects I am working on. It is a good platform for me to acknowledge the artisans and design visionaries that contribute to and inspire me on a daily basis. The blogging community is very supportive, informative and continually inspires me.
I think that I could have just as easy have gone into Fashion Design. My dream would to be working at the House of Chanel in Paris.
Is there anything about your role as a designer that has surprised you?
Yes, the creative process is a small part of the project. The rest is about making it all happen the way it was envisioned. It is very important to manage the project and attend to the myriad of details that are involved in bringing the project to fruition. A good designer as well as being creative also has to be a good manager, which can be very challenging because it is left brain thinking vs right brain thinking all the time.
And finally, is there a dream project or challenge you wish to pursue one day?
I would love to work on a project where everything could be my own design: fabrics, furnishings, lighting fixtures, carpets, etc. That to me would be the ultimate as a Designer.
Patricia, thank you for sharing your inspirations (and aspirations) with us. I'm sure I speak for the audience when I say we look forward to seeing more of your exceptional creations for clients - not to mention your daily discoveries on the blog. Ciao!
What others are saying...
So great to be abble to read an interwiew of Patricia Gray .I was so honoured she wrote a post about my blog and me .She is so talentful and CHICMélanie
Posted by: Mélanie
Posted by: Suzy
Great interview, Franki! It's nice to learn more about the talented and gracious Patricia.
Posted by: Annechovie
Thanks for the interview. I ready Patricia's blog daily (with my morning coffee) and it always gives me inspiration for the day. It's nice to learn a little more about her.
Posted by: Dale
A wonderful interview with Patricia!! Thanks for sharing your innermost thoughts with us Patricia - I absolutely loved hearing what you had to say!XAnna
Posted by: Anna
Posted by: cote de texas
Fantastic interview. Congratulations.
Posted by: julie at BV
Great interview! I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Patricia. She is so supportive of all of the design blogs, and has so many great insights.
Posted by: Sarah Jennings
I really enjoyed reading and learning more about Patricia and her design process. It's great to learn more about a designer and fellow blogger, very inspirational :)
Great interview ladies!
Posted by: jenn
I just loved reading this interview of Patricia! She is such a wonderful designer and a down to earth person...a great blogger too! An inspriation for us women! Great post Franki :) ~Kate
Posted by: girlmeetsglamour
I so agree with Joni - Patricia is such a class act and such a generous spirit. I for one am just imagining the gorgeousness of a place that she designed with all her own fabrics and furnishings. ~sigh.
Posted by: maryam in marrakesh
Ladies, the comments have been fantastic. I am delighted (and appreciative) of the shared enthusiasm - not just for Patricia's designs, but for the designer herself.
Thank you for helping me celebrate her success!
Posted by: franki durbin
great interview. i love patricia. she's an inspiration and always has really sage advice. plus she could be a total snob but is so open and willing to support other designers.
Posted by: megan