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Where beauty is concerned, many concede that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And for these five interior designers whose claim to fame consists of thinking out of the box and mixing patterns we never conceived to be possible, their hard work has paid off, for each is now an acclaimed designer with numerous accolades under their belts. We bring you the world’s best interior designers who’ve been making headlines with their lust-worthy residential designs.
1. Martyn Lawrence Bullard
Design allowed the 49-year-old British decorator’s dream of living in Los Angeles to come true. With an opera singer father, Martyn Lawrence Bullard grew up in a theatrical household and was exposed to different forms of aesthetic expression, which would eventually be interpreted in his interiors. A design buff as a child, he was scouring the flea markets for antiques as early as the age of 12, which he later continued in LA while acting in bit parts here and there. As fate would have it, the producer of Ed Wood’s I Woke Up Early the Day I Died, in which he was performing, asked him to decorate the offices of Hollywood Film Works after having visited his colonial-style house adorned with objects from the local flea markets. He accepted, thinking he could score another acting job out of it. The day it was completed, Liz Heller, the then executive vice-president of Capitol Records asked him to decorate the iconic Capitol Building.
Defined by an eclectic approach, he seeks a common thread in colour, form or beauty among pieces from different centuries, always working with his clients to create their dream interiors that will reflect their personalities.
Named one of the world’s top 100 interior designers by Architectural Digest, his client list reads like a who’s who of the Hollywood such as Sigourney Weaver, Edward Norton and Eva Mendes. He has also designed the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, Jimmy Choo stores worldwide, and the Four Seasons Residences in Los Angeles.
2. Soo K Chan
The 55-year-old Singaporean architect is the founding principal and design director of multi-disciplinary practice, SCDA Architects, established in 1995. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the inaugural Singapore President’s Design Award and two RIBA International Prizes.
Taking a holistic approach, SCDA’s projects express tranquility and calmness qualified by space, light and structural order, producing architecture and interiors shaped by cultural and climatic considerations and integrating nature and water features that blur the line between inside and outside.
“Starting any design project is similar to dating: there’s the period of getting to know the client and also the site. These relationships evolve throughout the project and it’s about knowing when to push the limits of what is possible while building trust and sensibility," Soo says
3. Joyce Wang
Aged just 34, the London- and Hong Kong-based designer studied architecture and materials science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in London. Her eponymous studio specialises in luxury hospitality and residential interior design, and she is developing a custom furniture and lighting collection.
With a passion for materials, her architectural approach to design, cinematic references and interdisciplinary inspirations inject a sense of drama and narrative into her projects. Intuitive and emotive, Wang favours a balance between new and old, engineered and crafted, while always adding an element of surprise.
Apart from designing residences, restaurants and hotels in Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Vancouver and Dubai, Wang has also created Oculus chandelier for Swarovski.
4. Kelly Wearstler
Design is largely intuitive for Kelly Wearstler, 49, which she describes as “a sort of falling in love over and over again". Her signature sumptuous and vibrant interiors may be found in grand residences and luxury hotels internationally, from Beverly Hills to the Caribbean.
A creator of experiences, she believes that every new project is an invitation to embark on an unexpected and fascinating journey. As design is storytelling, she always aims to tell evocative stories, adventurous and full of soul, incorporating a mix of materials and influences.
Most recently, she spearheaded a new venture called Proper Hospitality consisting of high-end residences and hotels.
5. Tristan Auer
Born in 1970, the Paris-based interior designer earned his stripes under Christian Liaigre and then Philippe Starck, for whom he worked on numerous projects worldwide, from a hotel-club for the Trigano family (co-founders of Club Med) to his first large-scale international project: The Mercer Hotel in New York City.
Leading an in-house team of 12 senior interior designers and collaborating regularly with external architects, stylists, landscape designers, engineers and master craftsmen, Auer believes in made-to-measure design, catering to the tastes of his clients, whether it’s incorporating custom furniture in a historic setting, creating a showcase for an art collection with impressive views of the city or reviving French craftsmanship in an art deco apartment.
Most interestingly, he has dabbled in designing accessories for the Ferrari 308 GT4 and Lamborghini Urraco classic cars.