Palm Springs Modernism Week just closed, Legends 2016 is around the corner, and a Kardashian palace recently made the front cover of Architectural Digest. California design is hotter than ever: Just ask Delta Wright (Delta Wright Interior Design) and Cami Wright (Wright Interiors), designers who were part of the Modernism Week panel “Design Insights on California Style: Celebrating the Legacy of Modernism in Today’s Interiors.” The two discuss with EAL what it means to embody the Sunshine State aesthetic.
How would you personally define California style? What makes it different from, say, an East Coast aesthetic, or an interior you might find in Chicago?
Delta Wright: There is an unbridled individualism here, a feeling of the Wild West. We are afforded space to define our own soulful style and that of our clients. California style takes in the quirks and makes them sing—whether it’s the dramatic landscape, the natural light, the endlessly beautiful weather or even the traffic. We don’t have the constraints that exist in East Coast or Midwestern cities.
Cami Wright: I define California style as ‘relaxed sophistication’; however, it depends where in California you are. Beverly Hills is a completely different feel than a beach city. When I design in Beverly Hills, my designs tend to read a modern formality. My beach homes almost always are casually elegant and cozy. I also live in Austin, Texas, and the California style is often requested. Midcentury is hot in Austin right now, with the California influences of Palm Springs. Modern glamour is also reaching the South; my clients are taking risks with color, scale and whimsy.
Beverly Hills Canyon Residence master bath, by Delta Wright
Delta Wright designs, from left: Westwood Residence, master fountain; Brentwood Residence
Who are some authentically Californian designers?
Delta: If you are here working as a designer today, you are authentically Californian. The complete gamut of styles, qualities and tastes with influences from the vernacular, to the Far East. That’s how it works here—to each his own.
Cami: When I think of California designers, I go toward the beautiful architecture of George Washington Smith. The Santa Barbara Spanish Colonial style is what I consider a classic and it’s often re-created around the country. The late interior designer Michael Taylor’s iconic Montecito style is timeless, and I use his furnishing often.
How does California style incorporate nature differently than other cities’ styles? What are some of the nature or nature-friendly elements at play in California design that one wouldn’t find elsewhere?
Delta: We have fully furnished outdoor rooms year-round. Outdoor living and dining are a part of everyday life. We have flowering trees mixed with rugged succulents throughout the year, and a gorgeous coastline of ocean always close by. We can be simpler here. We don’t need to manufacture nature or try to stage it (of course, many still do!). We can be more relaxed within the beauty that nature has already provided.
Cami: First of all, the weather is the biggest component to outdoor living in California. It's not everywhere you can eat outside year-round and not get attacked by mosquitos. Just about all of my homes I’m working on, from Malibu to Beverly Hills, incorporate the retractable sliding doors, creating indoor/outdoor rooms with a touch of a button. The outdoors has become a design element in itself. People are working more from home, and in California, that means working outdoors.
Brentwood Residence living room, by Delta Wright
What shops and neighborhoods do you visit in California? Which are the hottest cities or enclaves-within-cities for design right now?
Delta: I’m loving Hollywood right now, where I just collaborated on the opening of Graye Annex. Just One Eye is there, along with the mega nursery Tropics and the furniture destinations of JF Chen and Blackman Cruz. My favorite store is Garde on Beverly and, of course, Twentieth. Outside of L.A., I’ve been spending time on Balboa Island, classic California charm.
Cami: I shop in the Design Quarter on La Cienega. I always hit the jackpot in this area. For that second layer of accessories, I pay a visit to the Pasadena Flea Market for hidden treasures.