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5 Questions for: Kelly Wearstler

The US-American interior designer in Talk

21 May 2021

Kelly Wearstler is a designer and interior decorator from the USA. Her trademarks are wallpapers and textiles with unique patterns. With her design company Kelly Wearstler Interior Design, she has made a name for herself especially in the Californian hotel industry. The 53-year-old tells us how it all began and what a hotel must definitely have!

You are the head of Kelly Wearstler Interior Design. How did it start? Why did you become a designer?

Design has always attracted me. My mother took me to flea markets and auctions as a girl to train my eye at a young age. After graduating from art school in Boston, I did a few design internships, including one with Milton Glaser in New York. Then I moved to the West Coast and waited tables while I built my own design business. I started with one client. That's when friends hired me to design a room in their house. Then I slowly built my business through word of mouth. It was 1995 when I officially opened my studio. Interior design combines so many of my passions - architecture, art history, sculpture, pattern, texture, light and movement. It really is my dream job.

The creative eye of today's interior designer was honed in childhood. Credit: The Ingalls

You have designed numerous houses for stars. Do they give you creative freedom or do they have specific wishes and ideas?

My clients are my greatest muse - each project reflects their distinctive personalities. One of my favorite aspects of my job is learning to be a great listener and exploring my clients' tastes. I take into account what the client wants and then put my own filter over it. The best projects are inevitably the ones where the client has a strong voice and a distinctive point of view. I've been fortunate to have worked with incredible clients throughout my career.

How do colours, shapes and fabrics influence your furniture and designs? Where do you get the inspiration for your projects?

Design is largely intuitive for me and I am truly inspired by everything. I believe in finding inspiration from a variety of sources to allow my own voice and style to shine through. Mother Nature, architecture, fashion, art, travel, photography and landscape design are all incredible influences. Travel - when I can - is also a great source of inspiration. I love discovering new cultures, new landscapes, and immersing myself firsthand in history and nature. Some of my personal design heroes include Pierre Cardin, Oscar Niemeyer, Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, Josef Hoffman, Louis Kahn and Louis Nevelson.

Patterns and versatile colorways are part of Kelly's trademark. Credit: The Ingalls

How does sustainability influence your choice of materials?

Natural materials and vintage pieces are incorporated into all of my projects. I love to "salvage" and re-make existing silhouettes and materials. I believe there should be a sense of longevity and the luxurious, tactile and soulful sensibility of organic materials in a space, be it residential or commercial.

Which way do you prefer to travel? And what must a hotel have to make you book it?

I love to travel with my family. Vacations are a great time to make special memories. I love experiencing new places by being active. Such as going on bike rides, jogging, visiting local antique shops and vintage stores. When I'm looking for a hotel, I want to stay in a place that feels truly local and gives the feel of life.

Kelly Wearstler's exclusive clients include the Austin Proper Hotel in Texas. Credit: The Ingalls

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