Whether they work their magic on country homes or villas, apartments or luxury hotels, these are the maximalists, minimalists, futurists and traditionalists to turn to for interior-design inspiration
The French-Iranian designer India Mahdavi has built her reputation on an eye for colour and a love of retro. After studying at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and Parsons in New York, she founded her eponymous studio, which has collaborated with everyone from Valentino to Nespresso. She is well known for her playful interiors — the most famous example being the restaurant Sketch in London. In 2014, after she turned the whole room bright pink and covered the walls with 250 drawings by David Shrigley, it became the most tagged restaurant in the world on Instagram.
Architectural Digest has described Darryl Carter’s look as ‘new tradition’, thanks to the way in which he combines antiques, painted furniture and chalky washes of colour. The magazine also noted that since his rise to prominence in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s, Carter has embraced Modernism more and more. Today, the former lawyer is one of the most prominent designers in America — and he has been referred to as a ‘titan’ of interior design by Elle Decor. He now also produces his own range of chairs and lighting in his signature palette of white, grey and brown.
New Zealand-born Veere Grenney once said that the key to being a successful interior designer is an ‘ability to visualise the whole, to recognise the potential in the ingredients, to recognise the quality of a maker, and to bring this together’. The former director at Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler in London has more than 30 years’ industry experience and has spent nearly two decades working under his own name. His timeless designs, which focus on balance, proportion, harmony and elegance, have earned him a place in House & Garden magazine’s list of the top 100 interior designers for the past seven years in a row.
In 2019, Elle Decor named rising star Sasha Bikoff one of its ‘A-List’ decorators. She started her business in 2013, but her breakthrough came six years later when she wowed critics at Milan Design Week with her candy-coloured exhibition in collaboration with Versace Home. Her signature style is intensely maximalist — think French Rococo mirrors paired with classic 1970s chairs, topped off with gold leather and exotic animal-print fabrics. She has also exhibited her work at Art Basel Miami and recently unveiled a range of wallpapers, carpets, tiles and lighting.
Pierre Yovanovitch started his career working for the fashion designer Pierre Cardin. In 2001 he pivoted to interiors, establishing his own creative studio in Paris. He now employs a team of more than 30 assistants, and also has an office in New York. His style has been described as ‘luxury without ostentation’ and dubbed ‘Made in France’ because of his championing of local and traditional French crafts. He likes to fill his interiors with works by contemporary artists such as Camille Henrot, Georg Baselitz and Thomas Schütte.
Steve Gambrel is something of an unofficial ambassador for the classic American style. From Aspen to the Hamptons, he creates refined town and country homes that use the very best materials and craftsmen and highlight his reverence for design history and tradition. He founded his business just three years after graduating from the University of Virginia, with a mission to make ‘homes that improve with age’. Architectural Digest has called him one of ‘today’s greatest talents in architecture and design’. In 2018, Rizzoli published a book featuring his work, entitled Perspective.
Vicky Charles and Julia Corden are the duo behind Charles & Co, an interior design agency to the stars. Charles made her name as the designer for Soho House’s group of clubs, while the pair’s client list includes the likes of David and Victoria Beckham and George and Amal Clooney. Their signature look juxtaposes rustic wood and raw concrete with thickly piled velvet and polished marble. ‘We aim to create spaces that are not merely photo ready, but living ready,’ Charles has said.
After completing his Master’s in architecture at Cambridge University in 2000, André Fu set up his own interior design company in Hong Kong. Fast-forward to 2019, and Elle Decoration China named him its interior designer of the year. Now one of the most in-demand designers in the world, he has applied his signature look — which draws on Eastern aesthetic principles and favours natural textures and neutral tones — everywhere from art galleries in Tokyo to hotels in Provence. In 2020, Thames & Hudson published a monograph of his most recent work, André Fu: Crossing Cultures with Design.
After almost a decade working for the celebrated designer Nicky Haslam, Swedish-born Beata Heuman established her own business in 2013. Her playful designs — filled with bright colours and vibrant patterns — proved a success, and in 2018 she was named House & Garden’s designer of the year. ‘Beata’s interiors are imaginative and fun, yet deeply stylish,’ wrote the magazine’s editor, Hatta Byng. Heuman’s joyful approach to interiors is captured in the title of her 2021 book, published by Rizzoli: Every Room Should Sing.
Since establishing her studio in Madrid in 1983, Isabel López-Quesada has worked with clients in France, Japan and the Dominican Republic. She has also designed the interiors of several Spanish embassies around the world. Her work has been described by Architectural Digest as using a ‘sophisticated mix of new and period pieces to create artful interiors’. In 2012, the Spanish edition of the same publication named her one of the year’s best interior designers. A YouTube video that looks inside the designer’s chic home has racked up more than half a million views.
Unlike that of many other designers on this list, the work of Charlotte Taylor and her studio, Maison de Sable, often only exists online. She specialises in creating digital renderings of futuristic interiors, which she calls ‘moving images’, inspired by Postmodernism, Brutalism, Radical Italian design and Brazilian Modernism. She is also one half of Dello Studio, a company that creates physical set designs and interiors from its base in London, and has worked with clients including Liberty London, Mr Porter and Christie’s.
Kelly Wearstler’s hip designs — ranging from homes to hotels, and furnishings to graphics — have won her nearly two million loyal followers on Instagram. Since founding her eponymous studio in Los Angeles in 1995, she has worked with A-list clients including Cameron Diaz and Gwen Stefani. In 2019, the Financial Times said she was ‘the woman who brought West Coast style to the world’. In 2021, when Wearstler was one of the judges in the annual Dezeen Awards for new design talent, she cited technology and the environment as two of the most important considerations for designers working today.
Since American Britt Moran and Italian Emiliano Salci founded Dimorestudio in Milan in 2003 it has become one of the city’s coolest design firms. It is best known for combining mid-century and 1970s designs with a palette that features a lot of browns, pinks and golds, along with luxurious finishes in velvet, satin, marble and brass. The studio’s residential portfolio mostly consists of apartments and villas for the young, European jet set, while its retail and hospitality clients include Lanvin and the Arts Club in London. The company also produces furniture and fabrics under the label Dimoremilano.
The Japanese design studio Neie focuses on making homes where people can ‘live, laugh, eat and enjoy the four seasons’. Its work fuses traditional Japanese timbers, shoji paper doors and tsubo-niwa courtyard gardens with 20th-century Scandinavian furniture and polished concrete to create modern, Zen interiors.
Vincent Van Duysen, it could be argued, has done more to pioneer the recent trend for sparse, monochrome interiors than anyone else. The designer, who lives and works in Belgium, was a key figure in the team responsible for creating Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s former Californian home. It went on to inspire a design craze for millennials and made Van Duysen a household name. He now produces a range of furniture for Zara Home and was recently named one of eight masters of design by Architectural Digest Italy.
The designers Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler may have been dead for decades, but the design studio that still bears their name is a bastion of English country-house style. The duo designed the interiors of some Britain’s best-loved buildings, including the Bank of England, Christ Church Oxford, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Buckingham Palace, and their work remains popular in high society. The company’s HQ on Pimlico Road, London’s interior-design hub, also continues to produce wallpapers, fabrics and furnishings.
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Before founding her studio in 2011, Joyce Wang, who was born in Hawaii, had lived in London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Boston and the Dutch city of Delft. Influenced by this globetrotting, her designs have been noted for fusing Eastern and Western traditions. She cites Isamu Noguchi’s playgrounds as having inspired her to create a sense of joy in her work. Wang is now the go-to name for creating Asian-style interiors — especially for restaurants and hotel chains, such as Mandarin Oriental — across Europe and America.
Ken Fulk’s highly sophisticated interiors are instantly recognisable thanks to a handful of signature touches: exotic hardwoods, hand-printed fabric wallpapers and Art Deco-inspired fittings. With a team of 50 staff, and offices in San Francisco and New York, he has become one of the most in-demand designers for decadent residential revamps and luxury hotel projects. He also organises lavish events, including a medieval-themed wedding for a tech billionaire and a burlesque party for the fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.
Corey Damen Jenkins’s interiors are fearless. He is known for mixing elements such as avocado-green paint with swags of patterned fabric and chinoiserie antiques. His designs, he says, take their cues from haute couture. Based in New York, the American designer has been honoured with the front covers of House Beautiful and Traditional Home, and had his work featured in House & Garden, Vanity Fair and The New York Times. Rizzoli also published a compendium of his best work called Design Remix: A New Spin on Traditional Rooms, which is now in its fourth reprint.
Whether it’s partnering with tastemakers to showcase lots from upcoming sales of furniture, fabrics and fittings from some of the world’s most sumptuous interiors, or getting behind-the-scenes access to the houses of some of the best known collectors, Christie’s interiors Instagram page, updated daily, is full of brilliant design inspiration. Recent highlights include an exclusive look inside Ann and Gordon Getty’s storied home, and a fascinating insight into the world of candlesticks with a Christie’s silver specialist.