One of the most refreshing and rewarding aspects of my work is the opportunity to blend influences from different times and places. The old notions of fidelity to a particular style, wherein homeowners recreated an authentic look right down to the smallest accessory, strike me as quaint and more than a little passé. I would never want to design, say, a “Chinese room” or an “Indonesian room” or, worse, a “Cowboy room.”
What I do enjoy, however, is the layering of cultures, styles, and eras to give dimension and texture to a space. A carved wooden chest from Zanzibar, a jewel-tone swath of silk from Thailand, or a stone sculpture from an Italian workshop each tells a story; by combining these narratives and building on them with custom-designed elements I can weave them into a unified whole, crafting a new backstory that illuminates the clients’ lives in unexpected ways.
New Mexico’s adobe structures—sun-baked mud is in fact the world’s most common building material—lend themselves to any number of decor styles, from tribal African to Middle Eastern to Polynesian, and provide the inspiration to take these different aesthetics to a new level. Natural wood finishes used in everything from ceiling beams to armoires to sculpture and floors, for example, pair well with the textures of woven pillows, carpets, and upholstery, whether these be Afghan tribal rugs, Kuna Indian molas, or Indonesian ikats.
Here in New Mexico, where the syncretism of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo heritage has produced a signature look, the opportunity to expand this blend to embrace a world of possibilities is irresistible. Now that Americans are traveling ever more often to ever more distant lands, clients often have a singular piece of art or furniture from their travels that they want to use to anchor the design, or a unique collection of one sort or another that needs to be showcased to advantage.
This blending of ethnicities and periods isn’t limited to adobe homes, of course; I find that any kind of architecture or building material can be enhanced by a judicious mix of period furniture and ethnic identity, creating a one-of-a-kind look that reflects the owners’ predilections and lifestyle. The unique personal statements that result from this ensure that the clients’ home is always their own, and not just something imposed on them by a designer.