Friday, February 17, 2017

Carrier & Company Chat at the Antiques & Garden Show

As expected, the Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville did not disappoint. Amazing vendors filled the showroom floor with eye candy for days. Seriously, I felt as if I was wandering around in a bit of an interior design-drunken stupor. Here's just a small sampling of the pretty . . .
Following my shopping, I had the pleasure of attending the Design Panel Lecture featuring designers Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company, Mary McDonald and Nathan Turner. Robert Leleux was the moderator who kept the questions and laughs flowing. The main discussion revolved around travel and how it affects and informs their designs. All the panelists had different experiences, but agreed that tying in the client's pieces from traveling along with their own trained eye was the best combination. Mary and Nathan are good friends and travel companions who have traveled the globe together and collected not only beautiful things, but hilarious stories as well. They really should write a book.
Sorry for the horrible iPhone photo. I was far away and not one to get up and snap pics.
Afterwards, I had the privilege of interviewing one of the design panelists, Jesse Carrier. To say I was excited is a bit of an understatement, and admittedly I was a bit nervous (I even brought my book Positively Chic Interiors with me and forgot to get him to sign it . . . such a rookie move).
Editor's Note: Interspersed throughout this article, I'm sharing photos from one of my favorite Carrier and Company projects that is featured in their book and online in their portfolio. It is both the original design they produced for former Men's Vogue and Town & Country Editor and current Esquire Editor Jay Fielden and his family, and the second incarnation after the family home suffered a fire. I too have designed for a family following a house fire and it can be a daunting and emotional journey. I've put the earlier photo of each room first,  followed by the second version. I'm fascinated by the differences and similarities. 

Jesse could not have been more gracious and kind. He and his wife Mara were college sweethearts from FIT who both started their careers working with outstanding talents in the design world. He with Thomas O'Brien then Jeffrey Bilhuber; she with Sills Huniford Associates, Marcy V. Masterson and Sara Bengur. The birth of their son Jack 11 years ago also marked the creation of their company, Carrier and Company. For them, it just made sense to join forces to tackle both design and parenthood as seamlessly as possible. Their individual histories and tastes combined with a level of trust make theirs a successful design union.

The couple's designs are most notable for being so diverse or as Jesse described it, "We have an aesthetic that's not totally identifiable." While some designers are known for a certain "look" that clients come to expect, Carrier and Company enjoy the challenge of working with clients to express their personal style. According to Jesse, "We have to be very flexible in our designs, and we are strong believers in connecting people and places. A home in the Hamptons is going to look a lot different than a home in Connecticut or Texas or Florida."

When asked if they're ever fearful of repeating a look, he said,  "While we might have our go-tos and our tried and true fabrics or pieces, we never use them the same way twice. I noticed in putting together our book, there are certain elements that tie through some of our projects - formulas that we may repeat, not necessarily pieces."

During the panel discussion, Jesse referenced editing and how it's essential when working with client's pieces and styles. I asked him how that translated when working with couples who were combining households or just changing styles after years together.  "When working with couples, it is helpful that we are a couple," Jesse said. "There is some sort of sympatico sensibility. There is a trust level. We understand that dynamic and can educate the client about what will work and what won't."

Lastly, I asked what advice he might have for new designers. Jesse stressed the importance of interning and working under mentors. "The biggest mistake we see is impatience," he said. "In our industry, there a lot of designers who find this career path people later in life, and there's a sense of you got your degree, now you can just put a shingle out. We went to school and then learned so much more in our internships and jobs. Having worked under someone who's done it for 20 years is invaluable experience."

Carrier and Company create interiors that are effortlessly timeless yet fresh, inviting yet refined. I gather such inspiration from their book . . . it truly is one of my favorites.