Design is largely intuitive for Kelly Wearstler, which she describes as “a sort of falling in love over and over again”. Her signature sumptuous and vibrant interiors may be found in grand residences and luxury hotels internationally, from Beverly Hills to the Caribbean. Inspired by travel, nature, architecture, fashion, graphic design, literature and art, she’s particularly fond of the work of Pierre Cardin, Oscar Niemeyer, Carlo Scarpa, Louis Kahn, Gio Ponti and Carlo Mollino. Her eponymous luxury-lifestyle brand spans from residential, hospitality and commercial interior design to collections of furniture, lighting, rugs, fabrics, wallcoverings, tiles, luxe bedding, fine china, decorative home accessories and objets d’art. Contrasting raw with refined, blending color, sophistication and spontaneity, and incorporating diverse periods of furniture, she has changed the face of contemporary American design, earning her a spot on Architectural Digest’s Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design list, Elle Décor’s A-List, Wallpaper’s Top 20 Designers and TIME Style & Design’s Design 100 group of global creatives.
A creator of experiences, Wearstler believes that every new project is an invitation to embark on an unexpected and fascinating journey. As design is storytelling, she always aims to tell evocative stories, adventurous and full of soul, incorporating a mix of materials and influences. Her philosophy being “love color, take risks, stay curious”, she’s attracted to designs that explore intelligent use of materiality, juxtapose styles from a range of eras and bring a touch of the unexpected. She views mother nature as the best designer and interiors that play upon the raw, natural beauty of an environment as the most beautiful. This could translate into the way a marble pattern echoes the movement of foliage outside a window, or choosing a quiet, tonal color palette to highlight an unbeatable ocean view.
Born in 1967 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wearstler received her degree in interior and graphic design from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. She moved to the West Coast and waited tables while launching her own design business. After her first hotel project, Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, she decorated the Viceroy Santa Monica and went on to design multiple properties for the Viceroy Group internationally. For the Four Seasons Anguilla, she combined organic features – driftwood lamps, petrified wood tables and travertine floors – with textiles sourced worldwide, elevating the notion of Caribbean luxury while respecting the surrounding environment. Other key projects include the Bergdorf Goodman restaurant in New York City that mixes elements from the 1930s to the 1970s amidst shades of ebony, ivory, robin egg blue, chartreuse, mustard yellow and bronze, referencing sophisticated salons of the past and the building’s Beaux-Arts heritage, and the Compartés flagship store in Los Angeles, where she reinterpreted classic European chocolate shops of the early 1900s through a California lens.
Simultaneously, Wearstler’s residential design work grew to include homes such as the Bellagio Residence Bel Air, Hillcrest Estate in Beverly Hills, Malibu Beach residence, Evergreen Lane house on Mercer Island in Washington, Spring Street loft in New York City and mansions for A-list clientele from the film, music, art and creative industries such as Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani and Ben Stiller. Currently pursuing a new hospitality venture called Proper Hospitality consisting of high-end residences and hotels, she has completed the Hollywood Proper Residences, Santa Monica Proper Hotel and San Francisco Proper Hotel with its blend of vintage and new furnishings, custom lighting, bespoke reception desk and two-story black iron stairwell cage, artworks by San Francisco-based artists and specially-designed staff uniforms. Wearstler-decorated Austin and Downtown Los Angeles destinations will open in fall 2019.
The best projects are inevitably the ones in which the client has a strong voice and distinctive point of view,” Wearstler says. “My job is to be a good listener and run the clients’ vision through my filter. I start by asking them what story they want to tell, how they want to feel. It’s about evoking a mood, telling a story. Also, scale is imperative. There has to be a hierarchy within a space. Too many starlets in one room create needless drama. To achieve balance, there must be a thoughtful mixology of texture, history, pattern and color. Quieter details are necessary to ground bigger voices and allow statement pieces to shine.”
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