MEET DEBORAH EMERY:
Who inspired you to become a designer?
My mother! She is an interior designer, too. She has impeccable taste and everything she designs is elegant, warm and inviting. We moved a lot when I was growing up and I always admired the way she was able to transform every house we lived in into a beautiful home. While our styles are different, she taught me the art of skillful editing, how to use art and accessories to complete a space and her lovely and refined manner puts her clients at ease.
What is your background?
As an art history major, I chose to study at Columbia University because I wanted to be in a city where I could explore some of the best museums in the world. I fell in love with New York City and it has been my home ever since. Upon graduating, I realized I could combine my love of drawing, design and visual arts with my degree in art history by becoming an interior designer and since I had “grown up” in the business, it was a natural progression. I spent two years at Parsons School of Design and then rounded out my education by obtaining a Masters degree in the History of Decorative Arts at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum. I was interested in using that historical knowledge as a basis for understanding the origins of design styles and motifs, furniture construction and color theory. I also spent several summers taking courses in Paris, with the incredible bonus of feeding my passion for travel in an architecturally and eternally stylish city.
What is your design style?
I specialize in modern design based in classic style. I love to combine neutral furniture with great lines and fun, colorful and textural accent pieces that finish the space with character and vibrancy. I also like mixing unusual materials like colored glass, beautifully grained woods, interesting metals, lucite – anything with a great tactile or light catching quality to add visual interest. But my style goes deeper than surface design. Many of my designs incorporate re-working or renovating existing spaces in order to maximize the square footage and improve functionality. Some of my favorite work is apartment combinations, where I combine two or more spaces in the most efficient and seamless way. For example, I recently completed a project where I combined two “cookie cutter” one-bedroom apartments with galley kitchens into a large family apartment with an open kitchen/family room/breakfast area, three bedrooms, an office, a living room and a dining room.
What is your approach to design?
My approach is collaborative. I interview my clients in order to get a sense of their taste, personalities, lifestyles and dreams for their home. I want my work to reflect who my clients are and how they live. Most of all, when they open that front door, I want them to feel immense pride and pleasure.
How does your background in art history influence your designs?
I believe art is a critical component of design. A piece of artwork can be a point of inspiration for the design process, or it can be the centerpiece of the designed space. My clients know that in order to create a polished, sophisticated space, they should expect to incorporate art and accessories. For me, a room without art lacks soul and finish. I find that some clients are intimidated by the thought of buying art and I am happy to assist them. I work with art buyers and have multiple sources at all price points to help my clients become collectors, even with the purchase of one statement piece to start a collection. I also have many clients who already have artwork, and look to me for guidance as to how to best incorporate and install it in their homes.
Who do you work best with, and why?
My ideal clients are enthusiastic, committed to making decisions in a timely manner and comfortable placing their trust in me, and my team of professionals, to manage the transformation of their spaces. They look to me to guide them through the myriad of decisions and challenges so they don’t have to deal with the day-to-day stresses. My clients are excited about creating beautiful spaces that reflect their lifestyles, personalities and aesthetic sensibilities through a creative alliance between client and designer. They understand that designing a space is a process, and they appreciate the value that good design can bring to their lives. Many of my best clients have been working with me for many years – calling on me when they or a friend, family member or colleague has a new renovation, design, styling or staging project.
Who do you not work well with?
Honestly, I don’t work well in situations where I am not fully managing the day-to-day components of each project. It is too common in this scenario that important issues fall through the cracks – resulting in more work and additional, unnecessary costs. My clients understand that by putting the management of the project in my hands, they will ultimately save time, money and headaches.
Where are you located? What areas do you serve?
I am based in New York City so I can be close to the fabulous resources, energy and constantly changing cultural landscape the city has to offer. I also love the challenge of space/storage restrictions as I particularly enjoy re-working or renovating spaces to maximize square footage and improve functionality. However, these issues are not limited to the City. I also work with clients all over the Tri state area, have done some work on the West Coast and am excited about an upcoming project in London which runs a close second to NY on my favorite cities list.