This week, the design industry flocked to L.A. for the annual Westweek programs at the Pacific Design Center (PDC). From new product introductions to panel discussions and cocktail parties, designers and editors shared inspiration and education throughout the two days of events. The theme, “Intersection of Hollywood and Design,” was highlighted in the keynotes.
The first keynote was presented by Degen Pener, culture editor of The Hollywood Reporter. He introduced author and designer Bradley Bayou in conversation with famed film director, producer and screenwriter Nancy Meyers.
Bayou and Meyers
What many didn't know about Meyers is that she has a great passion for interior design, which shines through on many of her sets. Bayou took the audience through her life story, as she shared rare and intimate details behind her creative process and aesthetic.
On a large screen behind the pair flashed photographs and movie clips from some of Meyer's greatest films including Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday, It's Complicated, The Parent Trap and What Women Want.
Although Meyers has set decorators who create the rooms, she plays a key role in the entire process from start to finish. She described the sets as another character in the film, and said that they truly tell part of the story. She treats the character in the film like a "client,” and designs the space around what she thinks would best suit them.
In Something's Gotta Give, she said that she designed the house keeping in mind that Diane Keaton's character was stuck in a single woman's mind-set. The bathroom had one sink, and she used her bedroom as a workspace because she didn't see it as a space of intimacy.
In the Parent Trap, Meyers chose a warm orange color for the walls inside of the London townhouse, because it was the color of Lindsey Lohan's hair and she thought it would make her feel warm and at home.
Interior designer James Radin (who was honored at the Stars of Design awards on Wednesday night) has worked on many of Meyer's sets and also on her personal home, and she has enormous respect for his work.
Something that directors don't do, but she loves, is create a book of interiors that she wants to see on a movie set. She goes online, pulls images, takes things out of books and magazines and notes on them where she thinks it would work and why she wants to use it.
When asked if she ever thought about dabbling with interior design, she joked that she is already doing it for her daughter's home.
The second keynote, "How to be Asked Back to the Party: The Art of Repeat Business," brought together E! Entertainment anchor Catt Sadler with actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, her designer Monique Lafia and luxury builder Gary Drake.
Drake and Lafia
Thorne-Smith provided advice from the client’s standpoint while Lafia and Drake shared tips on gaining clients that you will keep for a lifetime.
Whether designer or client, they all agreed that communication and respect is key to the relationship. Thorne-Smith explained that what drew her to Lafia (after a friend's referral) was the fact that she could openly speak with her about what she wanted in a design.
Lafia explained that listening to what the client wants, guiding them through the process and giving them realistic time frames of completion will get them to a space they love and will then help to keep them as a client for future projects.
Drake, who is a high-end builder, shared stories about homes he created for Madonna and various celebrities. He agreed with Lafia that you need to respect the client’s wishes, listen and adapt to what they need.
He joked that all he wanted to do was build homes, and he never thought he would become a therapist in the process. He also explained that since he works with such high-profile clients, he often works with assistants and housekeepers and groundskeepers and that it's important to treat every one of them with respect, because they are all an intricate part of the team.
Both Lafia and Drake agreed that when clients interview designers, it goes both ways, they are often interviewing the client in return. They advised that from the start if you know it isn't going to work with the client then don't take the job. Not every relationship can be a long lasting one.
Westweek continued for a second day yesterday, and it started off with a bang. The first keynote of the day was moderated by Erin Feher, editor in chief of California Home + Design Magazine, who sat down with interior designer Jeff Andrews and his long time client Kourtney Kardashian.
Kardashian and Andrews
Kardashian described her style as "vintage," which is reflected in her clothing and accessories as well as her home. She goes to vintage and thrift shops all over L.A., and sometimes New York, to source things for her home. She also revealed that she is a big user of 1stdibs.
When asked how her influences, Kardashian said much of her personal style has to do with the home she grew up in. Her mother Kris Jenner always had the best designers and the most fabulous interiors, and she shared that Jenner had worked with iconic designer Angelo Donghia on many of her previous spaces.
What's most important to Kardashian now? Everything has to be kid friendly. With her son Mason, and new baby girl Penelope, it's the first thing she thinks about, and Jeff is totally on board with that. Whether it’s a table or fabric, it has to work for the kids. "Couches are for jumping on," she said.
While they have worked on many projects together, the big reveal at the event was the current home he had been working on with Kardashian. They showed off her new living room, something that Kardashian described as looking like "Alice in Wonderland" and her boyfriend Scott Disick describes as "Beetlejuice." Andrews shared that his favorite colors to work with are black, white and gray, and although that may sound boring it's amazing when it comes to life.
One interesting question that was brought up was whether or not Andrews takes into account that his designs are going to be on television, and does he design around that? "No," he said. "It's a home, not a set." Andrews explained that a space must be livable and comfortable, its a home and he doesn't think about them being filmed.
He agreed that the work he has done with the Kardashians has boosted his career in the sense that more and more people get to see his work, and that's a great feeling. He's getting calls from people who want him from the Far East and for other celebrity work as well, not that he has a load of time on his hands.
Andrews is also working on the re-design of the Kardashian’s Dash Stores. He has completed the Los Angeles store on Melrose, and it is completely white and elegant. He will be working on the Miami store next, and New York in the coming months.
In the end, Kardashian expressed how truly passionate she is about design and interiors. She admitted to staying up until 1:00 a.m. the night before looking at furniture online, and that "it's so much fun."
The last keynote of the day, "From Exotic Villas to Designer Automobiles: Cultivating and Catering to a World-Class Clientele," concluded the Hollywood and design theme.
Publisher of Interiors California Jennifer Polachek talked with leading professionals in the top luxury services industries regarding the art of cultivating a world-class clientele and catering to their highly discerning tastes and desires.
Gronenthal, Burdge, Palachek
Luxury real estate broker Mauricio Umanksy joined superyacht and estate interior designer Yvonne Colacion, automobile designer Nick Gronenthal and architect Douglas Burdge. The group discussed what it's like to have high-profile clients, how to please them, and how to get them to use their business again and again.
Umanksy and Colacion
One of the main questions asked the group: How to present yourself to a high-end client, and how should you carry yourself? Nick explained that you must be immersed in many different cultures and look at design through a global perspective, you can't just be set in stone where you are based.
"Not only from a global perspective," added Yvonne, "being well traveled is extremely important, but, I think that having references and different points of references, whether it be architecture, products, graphics, an understanding of the arts, or what have you, all of our clients are very well educated so we need to be too."
The group agreed that luxury has become a term that is very widely used today, has many different meanings and can be interpreted by clients in very different ways. Understanding the global market and being as well rounded as you possibly can will help to impress a "luxury" client.
All in all, confidence, knowledge and ethics were top on the group's list for gaining high-end clients. Believe in yourself, know what you're doing, know what they're talking about and be ethical. You have to be an advisor to your client and if you don't think something's right you need to speak up. And, a great connection and open communication is the key to getting them back again to do more work with you.
Some other notable events from Westweek included the opening of Alter Egos, a photography exhibition by Nancy Ellison; the Stars of Design and Stars on the Rise awards presentation; closing night parties at Donghia, Baker and Ralph Pucci; and many renowned designers including Alexa Hampton, Eric Cohler and Jeffry Wiessman who spoke.