maven46 Meets: Lucy Harris

A talented interior designer creating timeless designs in New York

Words by Síomha Connolly
November 15th, 2016

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Lucy Harris is an interior designer based in New York who creates homes that most of us could only dream of. With a modernist flair to most of them, Lucy leaves a unique signature on each of her projects. We chatted to Lucy about the family roots that brought her to interior design, where in the world she is most inspired and the one piece of furniture that makes a house a home.

On her 9-5…

I love that every day is a little different and I am always exploring new things.

I usually start in my studio in the Flower District in New York City with a cup of tea. I like to get myself organised for the day. Then I might head to a client’s home if I need to check on something or to a showroom to look at some pieces we are considering. A lot of our clients live abroad or outside of NYC so we often do video conferences for our design presentations, otherwise we meet them in our studio or in their home. And of course, I always stop for lunch. I cannot function without good food! And I try to walk everywhere I can, one of the best parts of New York.

On getting into interior design…

Interior design comes naturally for me. When I was twelve my parents renovated our house and worked with an interior designer. I got to work with one for my bedroom. I was very creative and did a lot of art and I loved the idea of picking fabric all day long. But then I forgot about it. Travelling and living abroad in Italy, Greece and Indonesia inspired me a lot and I circled back to it a few years after college. Thankfully! I cannot imagine anything that I would love to do more than this.

The most rewarding part of her job is…

When I see how happy our clients are with their home. I have had clients jump on their sofa! To see how the homes we design become a backdrop for their lives and memories is very rewarding.

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On work challenges she faces…

Balancing career and personal life. This is a field that requires a lot of work. I overworked myself in my early years and really put my body under a lot of stress. I had to learn to take time to exercise, sleep and have a personal life. It’s not easy when running a business. I couldn’t manage without my wonderful team who are very dedicated and work hard. And editing my life to what is really necessary.

On proudest projects…

I am like a Mom who doesn’t have a favourite. I enjoy designing from a client’s vision – I am endlessly inspired by them. The Chelsea Penthouse was designed for a client with a very unique vision and I enjoyed working with her to create something intensely personal for her that has the level of sophistication and artistry that I aim for. But I really have enjoyed all of our projects for different reasons.

On the most important thing to take note of when designing for someone else…

Their lifestyle. You can design the most incredible home, but if their kids spill juice on the white sofa and ruin it, or the furniture isn’t comfortable and they value that a lot then it isn’t a successful design. We get a lot of information upfront as to how they want to live in their home and that is equally important to any aesthetic ideas they have.

On her biggest inspirations…

Travelling. I am endlessly fascinated by how other people live. I love hearing the clink of china in espresso bars in Rome when walking down the street because it represents living a good life.

I am a history junkie and I love seeing art and architecture in person in Europe. I love Paris, London and all of Italy, where my husband is from. Italy is a more traditional society and living a good lifestyle is sacred. Eating with friends or family at each meal, making time to walk in the historic centre of your town every afternoon to see friends: this is part of a continuum of living a good life, which good design is an integral part of.

I am also inspired by seeing artists’, designers’ and architects’ homes. Seeing homes with a vision, even if it is historic and more traditional is incredibly inspiring to me. I want to see what someone with a personal vision has created. I just visited Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts and Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. Totally different visions but equally inspiring.

On her design aesthetic…

Clean lines, sculptural, eclectic.

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On the one piece of furniture that makes a house a home…

A beautiful dining table and chairs. My husband and I have lived without a sofa for the last five months after having smoke damage in our apartment from a fire in our building and tossing our old one and waiting for it to be made in Italy. I have learned that a sofa isn’t nearly as important as a dining table where you share meals with the people you love. To me the kitchen and eating area should be in the same room and should be the centre of the home.

On dream living locations…

Paris or Rural Vermont! I need to get out of the city and Vermont is one of my favourite places. It has an incredible community of people who value things I value (it is a very red state politically) and the landscape is beautiful. I would love to have a house and have the chance to work with a landscape over decades and grow some of my own vegetables like I did growing up. But I am also a true city person and love the energy of cities and the creativity that seems to congregate in some places. I have recently fallen in love with Paris and would love to spend more time there.

On New York must-sees…

The Whitney Museum. The new Whitney has a wonderful new energy and vision. I love visiting early on the weekend when it is quieter. For food, one of my favourites is Romans, a fabulous neighbourhood restaurant in Fort Greene, where I live. Excellent vegetables, which is key! Patrick Parrish and Matter are two of my favourites design stores. Their owners have a really strong vision which translates to very unique collections. For clothing I love La Garçonne. The clothes are sophisticated and chic but not overly girly – perfect for me. I guess that is four places!

All images are taken from Lucy’s website lucyharrisstudio.com which you can visit to see more of her inspiring interior projects.