At Home With Sotheby’s Designers

A library, designed by Sotheby's Designer Showhouse participant Christi Rogers, with a dramatic sunburst-effect ceiling. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's

At this year’s Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse and Auction, presented in association with Architectural Digest, twelve established and up-and-coming designers are curating signature rooms with items from a range of Sotheby’s departments, including 20th Century Design, Prints, Silver, Photography, and English furniture.

To share insight into modern design techniques and the art of mixing the old with the new, we’ve highlighted unique perspectives of three Designer Showhouse participants (via Sotheby’s).

Meet the Designers

Fawn Galli

Fawn Galli

“A gallery should be totally interactive,” says Galli of her designated Showhouse space. The New York-based designer knows exactly want she wants to achieve: “By hanging art at interesting heights and creating different levels, you can make it feel more like a collection less like a museum.”
Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Colourful, unexpected, personalized.

What are your thoughts on the conversation between art and design?

Art can complement an interior and bring a completely new mood to a space, but I don’t believe that art and interiors should match. Coupling contemporary art with traditional furnishings highlights them both in a stronger way.

Why do you love working with antiques? What do they add to a space?
Antiques instantly add elements of history, craftsmanship and soul that are difficult to obtain solely with new pieces.

A living room designed by Galli. Photo by Costas Picadas, courtesy of Sotheby’s

Richard Rabel

Richard Rabel

“Some people think that foyers and galleries should provide the visitor with a dramatic experience – like walking Onto a Broadway set,” says Rabel, who designed both spaces for Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse. “I believe these spaces should have enough in them to let visitors know a bit about the people living there, but should not overwhelm with furnishing and tchotchkes.”

Aside from personal touches, what else is important in decorating foyers and galleries?
A foyer is your first point of contact when entering a house and should feel airy – ditto with a residential gallery space. What’s important are chic finishes on the walls, ceilings and floors, stylish lighting, a place to sit briefly and, in the case of the foyer, a place to keep your keys.

What period are you most inspired by right now?
I’ve been inspired with the grandness of the Baroque for many years and always try to figure out a way of toning it down for today’s tastes (and budgets). It’s the genius of the textures and variety of materials that I dig.

Which design websites do you browse for inspiration?
My weekly perusal includes the blogs Quintessence, Nest by Tamara, Habitually Chic and La Dolce Vita. I also spend time on the Architectural Digest and Elle Decor sites. But I’m equally inspired by my own travels, whether it’s going to a un-touristy spot in Hanoi or staying at a contemporary hotel with character like the Fasano in São Paulo.

A New York City pied-à-terre designed by Rabel. Photo © Joshua McHugh, courtesy of Sotheby’s

Richard Rabel

Christi Rogers

For Rogers, who divides her time between New York and Paris and has worked in Prague and London, travel has become a crucial influence on her work, and it has deepened her appreciation for interiors around the world. For her, a house should always do one thing: “Tell the story of who lives there,” she says.
Is there a major rule you like to break?
There are several little ones I break all the time: unusual colour combinations, mixing metals and time periods and unexpected wall coverings.

Do you have any tips for integrating art into a room?
It’s not about choosing a specific piece for the room; it’s about finding a piece that resonates with its owner. You need to come home everyday and love it.

What advice do you have for new buyers of antique and art?
Make sure craftsmanship and materials are top quality. Find a connection between different pieces and consider how they will interact with what you already own.

A library, designed by Rogers, with a dramatic sunburst-effect ceiling. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

For more insight and advice from designers featured in Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse and information on the sale, visit the official website here. See Designer Showhouse items up for offer on Invaluable here.