All you need to know about By Design
This incredible new survey showcases the most creative interior designers and decorators working around the world today
What can we learn today, when we read the room? William Norwich, Phaidon’s commissioning editor for fashion and interior design, has a pretty good idea. “Having just read the entries in this wonderful, encyclopedic book, my takeaway is that the priority of the most innovative and desirable interior design of the twenty-first century, at least so far, is experience,” he writes in the introduction to By Design: The World's Best Contemporary Interior Designers. “Unlike decades ago, when the guiding principles for interior design were too often static and entrenched with worries about suitability and materialist display, designers today are most concerned about how their spaces will affect their inhabitants. In other words, how spaces are experienced; how they affect, much more than just how they are perceived critically.”
And, as you can gather, leafing through the pages of this richly illustrated, authoritative global survey of the best and most creative interior designers and decorators working today, the creation of that experience differs, depending on the designer.
Sophie Ashby of the London-based Studio Ashby combines antiques and modern furniture with striking photography and contemporary art from around the world to create her dreamy spaces. Los Angeles designer Kelly Wearstler cites her appreciation for natural materials and processes — smooth marble, luxe fur, jagged metal surfaces — when accounting for her beautiful, postmodern, creations. New York design studio, Yabu Pushelberg is a powerhouse of sleek, conscientious, monumental design. Paul Hecker and Hamish Guthrie of Melbourne-based interior design firm Hecker Guthrie root their designs in storytelling.
Of course, the criteria for creating good, experiential space also differs, depending upon who you ask. By Design’s esteemed selection of contemporary designers was drawn up by an even starrier cast of nominators, including Hanya Yanagihara, Editor-in-Chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine; Ronnie Fieg CEO and Founder of the groundbreaking stores, Kith; Felix Burrichter, Creative Director, Curator, and Editor of PIN–UP magazine; and Richard Caring Owner and Chairman of Caprice Holdings, The Ivy Collection, and The Birley Clubs of London.
Some on this nomination board, such as the New York-based arbiter and art world leader Eleanor Acquavella, believes a good designer is someone who has the “ability to decorate homes without making it look like their home.”
Others, including Graeme Brooker, the head of the interior design program at the Royal College of Art, London, believes more pressing, wider reaching concerns need to be considered, when creating today’s spaces; “to ignore the climate emergency, social justice, and our rights as humans is a neglect that we cannot afford.”
Norwich himself sees a confluence of the old and the new in contemporary interior design. “Maybe for us in the twenty-first century, it’s the psychological deprivations engendered by the industrial and the postindustrial age—the time away from nature, the social conformities, combined with the exhausting distractions of the computer age— that make us want more. To not go within, within the depths of the possibilities of our interior spaces, is to go without,” he writes. “If we are modern, then we are awake, we are told. Awake to the fact that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, a human experience that will always require, and desire, shelter and hospitality. Why not make these spaces the best spaces they can be?”
To discover how great those spaces can be, order a copy of By Design here.