The work of famous interior designers, furniture designers and architects is used as a constant reference point in interior design today but it’s not only their visual feats that have an inspiring effect on us. The wise words of industry leaders of past and present are also a great source of inspiration, knowledge and guidance for both trade professionals and beginners attempting interior design in their own home for the first time.
From Kelly Wearstler’s tips to remarks from William Morris, discover a new mantra for your next design project in our round-up of famous words from the most iconic names in the business.
Image Credit: Morris & Co.
“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Best known for: Being a leading figure in the English Arts and Crafts Movement.
His Signature: Creating beautiful botanical prints for wallpapers and textiles. Morris is celebrated for reviving many of the traditional craft methods that diminished with industrialisation in the 1800s.
Image Credit: Xavier Béjot, Tripod Agency
“For a house to be successful, the objects in it must communicate with one another, respond and balance one another.”
Best known for: Andrée Putman pioneered the development of boutique hotels and designed the interior of the Air France Concorde as well as museums, galleries and boutiques for brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. She is also famed for founding Ecart International, a platform for early 20th century designers, such as Jean-Michel Frank and Eileen Gray.
Her Signature: Creating the antithesis of excess by avoiding decoration. Instead, the designer focused on space and light to achieve timelessly simple and elegant spaces.
Image Credit: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)
“Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”
Best known for: Developing a new iconic style of housing in America and designing public buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art in New York City.
His Signature: Frank Lloyd Wright’s forte was Prairie School houses, characterised by horizontal lines, low roofs and overhanging eaves that integrate into the flat prairie landscape.
Image Credit: Marcel Wanders
“Designers and people in general are too attracted by ‘new’, but nothing ages more quickly than ‘newness’. All my objects reflect [a] marriage between past and present.”
Best known for: Rising to fame after designing the iconic Knotted Chair to become the leader of a 50-strong interior design firm and co-founder of successful design label Moooi. Marcel Wanders has also collaborated with several esteemed brands from MAC to Swarovski and Marks and Spencer.
His Signature: Wanders fuses historical styles with loud details, ornate patterns and sculptural aesthetics in both his interior and product design projects.
Image Credit: Kelly Wearstler
“Rawness and refinement are not opposite ends of a luxurious spectrum. They are two complementary features with which to populate a luxe environment.”
Best known for: Undertaking a host of high-class interior design projects and establishing her eponymous global lifestyle brand which encompasses everything from furniture, lighting and bedding to jewellery.
Her Signature: Maximalism. Kelly Weartsler is renowned for loading her statement interior design projects with sculptural pieces, bold colour, geometric patterns, metallics and minerals. Her product range has also garnered critical acclaim by industry tastemakers.
Image Credit: © FLC/DACS, 2015, Photographie Officiel des Nations Unies (Département de l'information)
“The home should be the treasure chest of living.”
Nationality: Charles-Edouard Jeanneret was Swiss-born but became a French citizen after moving to France in 1917 where he adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier.
Best known for: Being a pioneer in modern architecture and urban planning.
His Signature: The visionary put his stamp on the world by designing thought-provoking concrete buildings with open floor plans and maximised natural light. He also created modern, minimal furniture often with tubular chrome structures.
Image Credit: Jean-Louis Deniot
“Luxury is when it seems flawless, when you reach the right balance between all elements. Understated theatricality – that is what my luxury is all about.”
Best known for: Transforming luxurious residential properties spanning covetable locations including Milan, Capri, Chicago, Monaco and Columbia.
His Signature: References to historical design periods, from Art Deco to Seventies chic, are ubiquitous in Deniot‘s work. The tastemaker is also a fan of refined colour palettes, luxe materials and innovative lighting.
Image Credit: Dorothy Draper & Company
“I always put in one controversial item. It makes people talk.”
Best known for: Inventing modern Baroque: a style that added a modern twist to classical rules. Dorothy Draper used her innovative style to redefine public spaces, such as the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as designing the interiors for automotives, cosmetics packaging and fabrics.
Her Signature: Dramatic colour schemes, elaborate wall mouldings, checkered floors and panelled lacquered doors were just some of the designer’s favourite features.
Image Credit: Nicolas Guérin
“A designer has a duty to create timeless design. To be timeless you have to think really far into the future, not next year, not in two years but in 20 years minimum.”
Best known for: Designing everything from hotels and restaurants across the world to electronic bikes, furniture and lemon squeezers. One of Starck’s most famous creations has to be the Kartell Louis Ghost Chair, the clear plastic seating solution that captured everyone’s attention.
His Signature: Applying his ‘democratic design’ concept to his work to make quality design available to all, not just the elite, by increasing production quantities and offering attainable price points.
Image Credit: Barbara Barry
“Underneath all I design lies the solid belief that beauty is a positive force.”
Best known for: Expanding her successful interior design firm (which has been commissioned to design some of American’s most high-profile family homes, restaurants, retail spaces and yachts) into an established home furnishings brand.
Her Signature: Barry creates truly elegant, sophisticated spaces often inspired by nature and always filled with relaxed yet luxurious materials and finishes.
Image Credit: © 2015 Eames Office LLC (eamesoffice.com)
“Details are not details; they make the product.”
Nationality: German-born American
Best known for: Making significant contributions to modern architecture and furniture design with his wife Ray Eames.
His Signature: Eames used innovative materials and curving silhouettes to create forward-thinking furniture designs. Some of the most celebrated pieces include the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, and the iconic Molded Plywood chair which was dubbed the best design of the 20th Century.
Image Credit: Vladimir Kagan
“Chairs are uniquely the best expression of design. They encompass more of the challenges by which I live and work than any other single component of furniture.”
Best known for: Designing for prestigious clients including Tom Ford, Marilyn Monroe and Walt Disney. Kagan is also the brains behind countless iconic furniture creations, such as the Cloud sofa, that helped him to earn a place in the Interior Design Hall of Fame.
His Signature: Creating comfortable furniture that fits to the human body. Mid-century pieces sculpted with wood, upholstery and wrought iron make repeated appearances in his design portfolio.
Image Credit: David Collins Studio
“What is quality? Quality design must have a sense of authenticity. My work is not cutting edge, it is not supposed to be, but sometimes, the middle of the road is the most dangerous place to walk.”
Best known for: Being the go-to designer for hotels, restaurants, bars and boutiques in need of a glamorous makeover. Aside from working his interior design magic on impressive retail spaces, such as Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo stores, Collins also designed homes for A-list celebrities such as Madonna.
His Signature: Throughout his career history, David Collins demonstrated a penchant for shades of blue, exquisite textures and antique finds.
Image Credit: Edward J Wormley
“Furniture is needed for practical reasons, and because it must be there, it may as well be as pleasant as possible to look at, and in a less definable psychological way, comforting to the spirit.”
Best known for: Being a longstanding design director at Indiana-based furniture company Dunbar during the 1930s-1960s and a major influencer in modernist furniture during the mid-20th century.
His Signature: Creating modern interpretations of traditional forms. Noteworthy designs include Wormley’s curving Listen-to-Me Chaise (1948) and his tiered Magazine Table (1953).
Image Credit: Kelly Hoppen
“Learn to look not just with your eyes but with your heart. Find the things that connect with you. How else will you know how to design your home?”
Best known for: Building a reputation as a fully fledged interior design Guru. Hoppen is the owner of a home furnishings brand and interior design firm which has worked on homes for the likes of the Beckhams and Elton John, and been commissioned for high-profile commercial projects including a collaboration with Pearl Motor Yachts.
Her Signature: The designer is internationally acclaimed for her neutral palettes, beautiful textures and thoughtful lighting. She’s also noted for integrating eastern and western influences to create a balanced aesthetic.
Image Credit: Milo Baughman
“Furniture that is too obviously designed is very interesting, but too often belongs only in museums.”
Best known for: Being a leader in late 20th Century modern furniture design in addition to lecturing and writing on the benefits of great design.
His Signature: Baughman was a master at creating relaxed residential furnishings typically distinguished by beautiful wood veneers and flat chrome detailing.