'DESIGNER TALKS HOME' INTERVIEW SERIES: CHRIS BARRETT
KNQ Associates (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Apr 08, 2011
Adept at fusing electrifying color combinations, multi-cultural reference points and hand-crafted elements into a singular vision, Chris Barrett
's mantra is to stay strong about the story - be it an Australian Colonial residence in Beverly Hills, an equestrian farm estate in Lexington, Kentucky, a 1912 Bertram Goodhue residence or one of the firm's residential projects for celebrity clients including Charlize Theron, Candice Bergen and John Stamos. Barrett's repertoire also encompasses a wide range of commercial assignments including the classic California coastal resort Hotel Oceana, a parent's resource room in UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, interiors for Maestro's Ocean Club in Las Vegas and acclaimed Los Angeles restaurant, Comme Ça.
What drew you to the architectural and design industry? Is that original fascination still alive within you today?
If one can inherit a design gene, then I must have inherited it from my mom. She was always measuring and drawing our furniture to scale. Then she'd cut them out and shuffle them around on paper. Once I went back to school to study interior design at UCLA, I was hooked. My passion has grown over the years. When I started in this business I had no idea how much thought goes into every decision. I love seeing the results at the end of a project.
Tell us about your typical day (at work and at home).
It's not that glamorous! I get up early and reach the office usually at 8:30 (sometimes earlier if we have a site meeting). A typical day is a mixture of pulling together fabrics, furniture and materials for one project, answering questions from contractors on a multitude of other projects, working on plans and elevations, writing emails etc. If I'm lucky, we get to work a bit on our new outdoor fabric collection! If I don't have appointments with friends or a design function to attend after work, I try to work out — usually Pilates.
In your opinion, what are the key challenges in designing a residence (as compared to a commercial project)?
The challenge is nailing the vision. The residential project is geared toward the clients desired lifestyle and function. It's creating the intangible experience that resonates with them. The commercial project needs to be an experience that a general populace can relate to. The materials that look good and hold up in a commercial project is a huge challenge!
Tell us about your own home.
An inviting home is more a feeling than anything else. It's about a good furniture plan, comfortable seating and good people.
"I'm looking for housing that is affordable, and modern. I know there must be innovative, well-designed housing out there. I just can't seem to find it!" —Tracey R., from the Dwell discussion board