Patricia Gray Interview

Vanessa De Vargas of Turquoise LA has done an interview with me on LA Apartment Therapy.Thanks Vanessa.

Apartment Therapy Interview / Patricia Gray

It's not everyday that you stumble upon a blog from an actual practicing interior designer. Which is what happened to me when I found Patricia Gray's blog. Patricia is an award winning, highly recognized interior designer from Vancouver Canada, who finds time in her busy schedule to update her blog almost daily!

Her blog features inspiration she finds via the internet, including other designers and architects that she admires not to mention sneak peeks of her work. She has been published in Architectural Digest along with other notable magazines that you can view here.
I wanted to find out more about Patricia so following are some questions I asked her about business thus far.

How did you come to be a designer?
I started at 5 years old rearranging furniture, at 10 sewing cushions & curtains. Whenever we visited I would come home and sketch the house floor plan in detail and then try and recreate the rooms using my cut-out paper doll folders. I played with fabric samples and color chips for fun. When I was in my early 20’s I found out that there was a profession called “Interior Design”. So I enrolled at a local college and loved it. I then went on to study History of Architecture and Decorative Arts in Paris through Parsons School of Design.

What's your favorite color to work with and why?
I usually start with a neutral palette and get all the elements of the space correct, and then I add in color through materials & paint. I love neutral backdrops that are classic & timeless, and the color usually comes in the artwork, accessories, area carpets etc. That way color schemes can be changed relatively inexpensively over the life of the home.

What color combinations do you see using in the future?
Right now the materials I love are earthy: limestone, travertine, wengee wood, teak. The fabrics are natural: linen, wool mohair, silk, leather, suede. For the accent colors I would choose Kelly green mixed with touches of black or rich cinnabar mixed with a warm mink brown and of course white, white, and white.

What are your greatest sources of inspiration?
The ocean, art galleries and SHOPPING.

What interior or furniture designers, past or present, do you most admire? Francis Elkins – she was the epitome of the evolution of the American Style in Interior Design and was the inspiration for such Interior Design luminaries as Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley & Michael Taylor. John Saladino – His style is so classic, cultured and highly refined.

Describe your design theory in 4-6 words.
well detailed, beautiful materials, comfortable, memorable .

What is your signature mark that you always try to implement in a space?
I don’t know because I am always changing and evolving.Maybe others see what it is more than I do. I have been described in Architectural Digest as “being forward thinking and creating outside the box”.

If you could redo any space, past or present, what would it be?
I would love to be able to go back in time and redo my grandparents’ home or perhaps the Petit Trianon at Versailles.

What have you learned about having your own business that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
Just to have fun and enjoy the process.

What are your best practices when it comes to client relations?
Love your clients, be kind and gracious at all times.

What 5 things does a well designed home need?
- welcoming entry
- a great kitchen
- easy maintenance
- beautiful art
- comfortable places to sit

If you hadn't become a designer, what do you think you would be doing now?
I'd be in Paris working at Chanel as a fashion designer.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Being better at what I am doing now.


Labels & Logos - When the masses can afford a brand it loses its luxury appeal

If everyone has one, do you still want one?
The elites don't, which may mean the end of conspicuous consumption

Nathalie Atkinson
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fashionable types have been waiting for this book all summer -- and it's not even a bitchy roman a clef.
Dana Thomas's Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster (Penguin) is instead a social history of the luxury industry that reads like a riveting roll call of Double Cs, double Fs and signature buckles (Gucci, Ferragamo).
In her exhaustively researched book, Newsweek's Paris-based fashion and culture correspondent examines the rise and fall of old-world craftsmanship, then dissects the class, culture and other clashes at issue behind today's US$157-billion luxury good market. She glimpses the workrooms of luxury brands around the world -- both the pedigreed ateliers of France and the less-so factories in remote China, juxtaposing the story of luxury barons Bernard Arnault with stylist-come-lately Rachel Zoe and the snobbish pronouncements of Fred Hayman (he of Giorgio Beverly Hills fame). She looks at luxury behemoths like Gucci Group, Richemont and LVMH, whose portfolio includes more than 50 brands, such as Pucci, Dior, Donna Karan and the money-making jewel, Louis Vuitton.
Thomas also lays bare the infamous loophole of final assembly, a technicality that allows designers to sew the coveted "made in Italy" label on garments assembled there from materials fabricated elsewhere. There's even an interview and some dirt on the enigmatic Miuccia Prada, the poli-sci PhD and communist who became the soul and patron fashion saint of her family's luggage brand in a volte-face as striking as Naomi Klein suddenly becoming the spokesmodel for Wal-Mart.
This new Theory of the Leisure Class for the 'naughts: Authentic artisans become branding megaliths targeting the aspirational middle class looking for instant McStatus tied up in a famous robin's egg blue box.
So where does luxury go from here? Thomas ties the massification in with the rise of licensing and ancillary products -- the purses and perfume that drive the bottom line. Labels and logos have gone from the inside to the exterior, a vulgar display of arriviste insecurity. This conspicuousness is slowly spooking original luxury consumers who worry not about the source -- which may still be artisanal--but the audience.
Last year in Britain, rumours swirled that Burberry would pull back on use of its signature nova check because of the increasing adoption of the look by British soccer hooligans. It's a classic case of the Chavs and the Chav-nots. The easy access to the trappings of luxury -- the branded and licensed purses and perfumes and plaids -- and the creation of a masstige category (prestige appeal at slightly mass-market prices), such as Simply Vera by Vera Wang at Kohl's or Erin Featherston's upcoming Target collection, devalue the core luxury values.
These days, the truly rich are all about stealth wealth, a direction Barb Atkin, the savvy vice-president of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew, enthused about at a fashion luncheon earlier this week. Atkin cited little-known Brunello Cucinelli, a very expensive but much sought after understated luxury brand on the rise. Cucinelli is subtle, not showy. His labels are on the inside, not out, and the true luxury comes from the exquisite material and fabrication. It's elitist, which is of course the whole point of luxury. Nowadays, those who have it don't flaunt it. The new luxury model is embodied by L.A. socialite Susan Casden, who gets to personally approve the special order of the lesser-known Hermes bag named after her.
This backlash against conspicuous consumption is how Thomas wraps up her book. As shoemaker Christian Louboutin tells the author, "Luxury is not consumerism." You see, the rich really are different from you and me. And the moment Vogue, originally a proudly exclusionary society journal for the 400 pedigreed East Coast families, starts running Wal-Mart ads, it is time for the elites to look elsewhere.
Of course, that's if they believe that goods -- and not, say, free time, close friends and good health --are the trappings of true luxury.
© National Post 2007

Moroccan Bathroom Inspiration

Maryam and her Husband in Marrakesh have recently purchased an olive orchard and are in the process of building a guest house on it named Peacock Pavilions. This project is a labour of love and is not without it's trials and tribulations for them. But nothing that is of value is free from this fault. There are to be 12 bathroom in all. No small feat. So if I can be of any help Maryam here is a little inspiration for those bathrooms of yours.
Simple, white, fresh House Beautiful Polished Nickel Bathtub Urban Archaeology
Let's not forget about the toilet. Funny how these are conveniently never shown in photographs. This is by far the best designed toilet on the market. Phillip Starck 2 one piece toilet Elle Decor
Luscaux Tile design Michael Smith Kohler Star and Cross Floor Tile Lascaux Lascaux John Stefanidis I love this bathroom. Crisp white shutters - bright painted walls. Kelly Wearstler Urban Archaeology Antonia Hutt House Beautiful Lots of white towels, a beautiful mirror and soft pastel painted walls photo from flickr top photo Tim Clarke

Patricia Gray writes about 'WHAT'S HOT 'in the world of Interior Design, new and emerging trends, modern design, architecture, and travel, as well as how your surroundings can influence the world around you. © Patricia Gray Interior Design Blog, 2009



"Like the elephant, we are unconscious of our own strength. When it comes to understanding the power we have to make a difference in our own lives, we might as well be asleep.If you want to make your dreams come true, wake up. Wake up to your own strength. Wake up to the role you play in your own destiny. Wake up to the power you have to choose what you think, do, and say."--Keith Ellis, Bootstraps

Photos from Elephant by Steve Bloom


Gracie Studio Wallpaper

Interior Design or Fashion?

While in Chicago recently I visited the Holly Hunt showroom at the Merchandise Mart and was struck by the beauty of an entire wall that was papered in Gracie hand painted wallpaper. This wallpaper Company has been around since 1898 in NYC and they are still a family run business. I have long admired their paper and it has graced (excuse the pun) the walls of many well known homes and been used by the all the top designers. In perusing their web-site I was struck with the fashion side of this paper. Gracie has garnered a lot of attention with the fashion elite. I have always been fascinated by the overlap of fashion and interiors.

Nylon Magazine

Ocean Drive Magazine

Hamptons Country Magazine

Vogue Magazine - dressing room of New York socialite and cosmetics executive, Aerin Lauder

Domino Magazine - model Maggie Rizer

W Magazine - Fashion Design, Anna Sui
Top photo: W Magazine Saks Fifth Ave


Patricia Gray Interview

Franki Durban at Life in a Venti Cup has done an interview on her Blog on me.
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.
The Gastown project is a terrific example of your commitment and use of innovation to meet a client's needs. What was your favorite aspect of the project?
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.

If you weren’t designing exceptional interiors, what career would you love to have pursued?
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:
Great interview! It is so great to learn more about Patricia the designer. It's been wonderful to "meet" such a talent in the blogging community.
Posted by:

Great interview, Franki! It's nice to learn more about the talented and gracious Patricia.
Posted by:

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:

Of all the bloggers I've had the pleasure to "meet," Patricia stands out in the field. Her style and taste are formidible, but it is her kindness, sweetness, and wisdom that I have most appeciated. She's a class act. Thanks for a great interview. Joni
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:

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:

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:

Mural in Men's Restroom

This is hilarious. I love the New Zealand sense of humour. A men's restroom at Sofitel (5 star hotel, operated by Accor Hotels) in Queenstown, New Zealand. Here is a news article about it and a tv news story.


Jordan Cappella Collection

Today I want to introduce you to the creations of Jordan Cappella in LA. He designs a line of beautifully crafted lucite furniture. What I like about this line is how he combines other materials with the lucite: stainless steel, marble, granite, and fabrics. Especially unique is his "Corset Table". Jordan grew up in Sydney and cultivated his career in New York at Tod's as the National Sales Manager, then as Director for its sister company, Hogan. Jordan has drawn inspirations from Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Milan where he has worked with some of the most renowned designers and textile mills of the fashion world. Every piece of his furniture is custom-made with individual details and finished in the US. I first heard of Jordan's work through Vanessa's Blog Turquoise LA . Jordan also has a Blog Jordan Cappella and was recently featured in the New York Social Diary. Way to go Jordan, I love your work!

Corset Table
Lucite and Stainless Steel
Lucite and Marble
Lucite and Granite
Lucite Vintage Trunk coffee table


Moroccan Inspiration

Lately my heart and inspiration has been in Morocco. Although I have never been there, I have been close twice: The Canary Islands in April of this year & Madeira several moons ago. Recently I have developed a blogging friendship and kinship with Maryam who writes a Blog called Moraccan Maryam. Here are some images that by looking at them have me there in a second.

I love the softness of the sand in this photo by Alan Keohane, the color and texture of it and the play of shadows.

Enter through these doors.....to a wonderful oasis within.

This bed needs to be softened up. Imagine this: take away the zebra pillows, replace with some Suzani Pillows like the one below and billowy white gauze draperies floating at the windows and a big bouquet of pink bougainvillea in a vase on the night stand. Oh and add to that picture a slowly turning ceiling fan (Casablanca style).

I see wonderful Moorish style windows to look out.

And a David Hicks Moroccan influenced bed canopy & a cool tiled floor underfoot.

Beside the bed on the cool tile a carpet placed at slight angle.

Add in the adjoining bathroom which is all white tile and cool Calcutta Marble some Moroccan wallpaper.

The adjoining sitting room would have a comfortable mix of furnishings, good books to read, and sunshine streaming in through the windows.

Moroccan influence in coffee table and side table

Dinner is served on the outdoor patio after the sun has set. Lanterns are lit.....

Top image owned by Alan Keohane. May not be reproduced in any form without Keohane's written permission. His portfolio can be seen at http://www.alankeohane.com/.
Marrakech Bed
Delia Shades
Phyllis Morris Marrakech Gate Fabric & carpet
Second to last picture: Elle Decor Aug 2007 Laird Residence by Jeffery Bilhuber

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