II Approach

Crafting Your Story

Each of us imagines what our life could look like, and my purpose as a designer is to help people live out the story they have always dreamed of living

A story is a central idea that is founded on the strongest influencing element associated with the project. Once I am clear about the idea, I use a series of design tools, guiding principles if you will, to deliver it. The real value of this approach is that because each design decision ties back to the core idea, the result is always authentic, stays relevant and engaging, and avoids trends or passing fashions.

Invention and
the Familiar
The Happy Tensions of Invention and the Familiar
I think about design the way I think about how we act as people. Often when we feel down or threatened we seek the comfort of home and family, like running into the protective arms of a parent when we fell as a child. But as we grow we yearn to leave the nest, to go out and wander, to invent and invest in the hope of something new. We seek out advancement. We travel and explore. We push boundaries and accept risk, all while knowing there is the security of home and family waiting to welcome us back. This is the ebb and flow of life, and I believe great design embraces the two attitudes: balancing the comfort of things we know and recognize with the challenge of things that push us away from complacency.
the Framework
The Framework of Architecture
My training as an architect has influenced the way I approach interior design. Great building interiors are inherently organized, balanced, and structured. They flow gracefully from room to room, take advantage of daylight, frame important views, and are well proportioned. These are part of the building’s architecture, and this is where I engage a new project. I think of the story we want to tell and then begin to sketch a floor plan that illustrates how the space will be used and how they will interact with one another. I never overlook the importance of the in-between spaces. Vestibules, halls, and chambers that lead to grander rooms are architecture’s dramatic pauses. Once the structure is in place, I layer furnishings into the plan, which to me is like animating the space with its anticipated life.
and Balance
Proportion and Balance
Proportion is one of the great unsung heroes of design. When it is right you don’t even know it’s there, but you sure feel it when it’s off. Proportion and balance keep a room at peace. A space doesn’t have to be symmetrical; it just has to be balanced. A chair on one side of a fireplace can be offset by a basket of logs on the other, or a painting on one wall might find its counterweight in a sculpture on a stand on the one it opposes. I tend to look at rooms I am working on graphically and sketch the objects in elevation. This helps me see a room in abstract form; from there I can tell what will work and what won’t. To me a room is most successful when it is balanced yet not quite symmetrical. This way you create both harmony and dramatic tension that will hold the interest of an inhabitant or a visitor.
of Texture
Importance of Texture
I think of texture the same way I think about food. When everything is the same, it tastes bland. In the same way that caramel tastes so much better when you add a pinch of salt, so too does something soft feel and look better when paired with something course. If I have a client who is a stickler for softness, I make certain that everything that touches his or her skin is soft. But I also make sure that surrounding textures help heighten the experiences, pairing supple velvet upholstery with glossy lacquer doors, or a chenille headboard with natural woven wall coverings. To, me texture is as important as color—if not more so—when rendering a room: it is both tactile and visually engaging.
Don't Forget
to Look Up
Don't Forget to Look Up
I love designing ceilings, because to me they act like the sky of a space. Think about how your mood is affected by the difference between sunny and overcast days. I find I am most creative on cloudy days because the compressed sky ceiling makes my perceptions of the world much more intimate. A cloudless blue sky, on the other hand, makes me feel like I should be out exploring in the boundless world. Ceilings add so much to a room. They can bring modulation and order, in the case of a beamed or coffered ceiling. They can be smoothly shaped plaster like a fluffy white cloud, or panels of rustic oak, rich and full of character. When crating a design narrative, looking up is one design tool I use early in the process.
the Details
The Details
Details are everything to me. Ask a novelist how to make a story feel more believable, and he or she will tell you it is the quality of the details. Details paint a clear picture of the overall narrative and transport the reader into the scene the author is trying to create. Details reinforce the central idea of a space and complete the transformative experience for our clients and their guests. Sometimes a detail is simple, like hardware or a fixture with a subtle lion-head motif for a client who is a Leo. Details and consistency in details make projects richer and help people engage with spaces in a deeper and more imaginative way. I consider them essential to the success of any project.
Light and Dark
Light and Dark
If you think about the way your eyes interact with light, anything that is lighter comes forward and anything that is darker moves back. Understanding this phenomenon is very helpful in choosing colors. If you want something to come forward and be prominent, make it light. If you want something to recede, make it dark. I use this strategy a lot. In cases where I want to show off a beautiful molding or millwork, I might use a glossy white paint and select a dark covering or color for the surrounding walls. In a small room with lots of windows and a beautiful view, I might paint the trim dark to encourage the viewer to look out the window to the scenery beyond.
the Art of Art
The Art of Art
Nothing is as engaging to me as how an artist sees the world and how a viewer then perceives a piece through his or her own filter of personal experiences. Art and collections of art tell the story of the collector, expressing outwardly who he or she is as an emotive being. The way this is communicated in an interior is a delicate balance between aesthetic and message. How art is selected and placed in a room begins the conversation that defines the room’s attitude. When I want a somber, reflective atmosphere, I chose art that embodies that quality. Conversely, when I want to create vibrancy, energy, or a little controversy, well, there is plenty of work that will do that. I generally like to mix it up because I find that the most interesting people are those with depth of personality and varied interests.
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A Conversation with Patrick