Art & Design

Alexis Brown: Design Cues

The New York-based interior designer behind the Montauk home and store of Ulla Johnson on timeless spaces, swerving design trends and the books and playlists she'll be tuning into this summer

Roberto Matta Seating Stools

@alexisbrowninteriordesign_ // Instagram

What’s going through your design mind right now?

Tapping into the things I love in design: textiles, layers, working with talented craftspeople and being inspired by my community and friends.

How do fashion and interior design converge in your world?

Interior design and fashion share such a common thread. The way we dress and how we live are huge representations of us as people: what we like, what we are drawn to and how we want to be seen. But fashion and design also provide an opportunity to cultivate graciousness and openness to other people, other ideas and other ways of living.

How was it collaborating with Ulla Johnson on her Montauk home?

I love working with Ulla. She is always up to be challenged and to know more, see more and move quickly! We work really well together because she is open to ideas and I know her so well. It’s such a joyful experience working and creating together.

The inspiration for her Montauk home was to create a subtly elevated space that could work for her family life and still be a place of calm and relaxation when they are out East. That was important, making the space easy and elevated without making it too precious. It is really lovely how the interior and landscape are one in this project. The large windows that wrap the back facade do really create a beautiful indoor/outdoor element that has only gotten better with time.

What is your own home like and what were the most important elements when designing it?

I always want design to feel intentional and thoughtful. I like to live, or aspire to, live pretty minimally with comfort and beauty. It is important for me to invest in the furniture and fabrics that I love and not be drawn into this thirst to buy and consume. I like a light, airy and warm environment for my own home.

Ulla Johnson's Brooklyn Townhouse

@alexisbrowninteriordesign_ // Instagram

Details at Cult Gaia's Los Angeles Store

@alexisbrowninteriordesign_ // Instagram

"It is cliche but try not to buy into the trends. I think that we can all create layered spaces that can be honest reflections of ourselves without bending into what is cool for the moment and consumable. Wait and invest in your life and your home. Take time with it. Time makes all the difference."

Alexis Brown

A design piece in your home that means the most?

A vase from the Japanese ceramic artist Shizue Imai.

How do you instil a timeless quality to your work?

I hope to create a timeless feeling through the mixing and layering of lots of fabrics, woods, wall finishes and furniture pieces from many eras.

Artists and makers that continue to inspire you?

Anne Corbierre, Voukinas Petridies, Carol Cassidy. All of the weavers and makers. There are so many that inspire me and without these craftspeople and artists, we would be lost.

Design by Alexis Brown and Anno Mille

@alexisbrowninteriordesign_ // Instagram

Ulla Johnson's Amagansett Store, Long Island

Alexis Brown

Do you have a most memorable project?

I worked on an amazing project with a young family in NY. It was so layered and at times felt that it would be completely off, but in the end it was such an inspiration. We mixed black silk Italian damask with cork floors and hand painted wall papers with Josef Hoffman furniture. It was a great learning experience.

Is there anything you collect?

Textiles and ceramics. I love both!

How do you switch off and what are your daily rituals to keep you sane?

Exercise and long walks in nature.

The question you most often ask yourself?

What would Rafael Pimentel do? He was my mentor, great friend and a design maverick. I worked with him for many years at Peter Marino and he was an inspiration.

How will you be spending this summer?

Traveling to Greece, The Cape and Portugal with my family.

On your summer playlist/reading list?

Charlie Feathers, Tiniariwen and Steely Dan. Summer reading picks are books from friends; “Jesus’ Son” by Dennis Johnson, “Famous Hermits” by Stacy Szymaszek, “Second Place” by Rachel Cusk and “Liberation Day” by George Saunders.

Ulla Johnson's Brooklyn Townhouse

@alexisbrowninteriordesign_ // Instagram


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