Don Stewart of Desiderata Design
More than just a resource for the best of modern furniture, Modern Resale also wants to be your destination for understanding the importance of these designs in creating contemporary, livable interiors. That’s why we’ve decided to refine the direction of this blog with the launch of a new online series of interviews, as an adjunct to our in-showroom salon series, which commences on June 11th with a discussion entitled, “Art Meets Design.”
Tapping into Los Angeles’s vast and varied network of interior designers, we’re asking them for their perspective on modern design, how they integrate modern design into their work and their thoughts on how to incorporate modern design into your home.
To kick off this series, we’ve asked Don Stewart of Desiderata Designs to start things off. Stewart, who’s designed homes in Los Angeles and New York, including the well-documented homes of R&B star John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Tiegen, here and here, and Kanye West’s home before his marriage to Kim Kardashian, is known for combining disparate elements in a seamless flow that reflects his clients’ passions and personalities. Though the first impression may be one of opulence, there’s a restraint in his designs that reads as unmistakably modern. Certainly, his designs will be a revelation to anyone who assumes that modern design means a low profile, metal-framed sofa in a bare room devoid of color, pattern or life. These rooms, plush with texture and layering, certainly blow that idea out of the water. Warm and inviting, they encourage interaction, whether that means touching the menagerie of stuffed animals on a chair by Fernando and Humberto Campagna in West’s home or imagining yourself sprawled on the B&B Italia sectional sofa in the Legend’s Los Angeles living room, digging into one of Chrissy’s delectable dishes while John tinkers on the piano. These rooms may be modern, but they’re not devoid of life. Quite the opposite. They present a stage for living life that frames their inhabitants in a unique and compelling way.
As Stewart himself describes it, “The meaning of the word desiderata is “anything desired as essential or necessary. That was the whole premise of opening my business. Make it about them. I don’t want to come in there and give it the ‘Don Stewart’ look. It’s not about me really, I’m just the filter. I take in what I see them responding to and touching. That’s where I pay the most attention.”
Modern design, then, strips away the frivolous but, as you are about to learn through this series, it doesn’t take away the fun. Instead it throws out the old rules and allows for the re-thinking of how we want our homes to be, new ways in which the design of our most private space can reflect our intimate thoughts, our deepest desires and our essential selves. Home, after all is the place where we should be able to let our hair down, take off the mask and feel most like ourselves. Why shouldn’t its design reflect that?
What roll does contemporary/modern design play in the scope of your interior design work?
Modern design plays the role of lead back up singer in my world. Carrying the weight, softening the curves, increasing the flow, lending strength and texture when necessary…and there through the whole song.
When you look at current modern design, what gets you excited and why?
When I look at current modern design I am excited about anything Patricia Urquiola! Everything she creates is fresh and, at the same time, familiar.
Most designers that use the brands that we primarily work with are also very interested in vintage design. When does something from the past become interesting again?
That great ‘something from the past’ never stopped being interesting… we just stop appreciating it for a bit.
What is it about a piece of current design that makes you think it is still going to be good in 20 years?
Well… you know I am absolutely enamored with Antonio Citterio’s timeless-classic Ray from B&B Italia. It’s just so good…it anchors any space.
What furniture designer that is currently producing work inspires you the most? What is your favorite contemporary brand?
Did I mention Patricia Urquiola? I am always drawn to her work. In our scores of searches I often find some obscure tiny imaged ‘find’ only after more research to find that it is Ms. Urquiola's!
Anything to add?
If you are on a budget but you have an appreciation and value of quality design and fabrication… I say splurge on at least one anchor piece and build your environment from there.
The living room of John Legend and Chrissy Tiegen’s LA home
Photography by Roger Davies
Campagna sofa from Kanye’s pre-Kim home