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Today I am so excited to share an interview with celebrity interior designer, Mark Cutler. He is very well known in the design industry. Some of his clients include Jennifer Lopez, Vanna White, and Steve Carell. I love designer Mark Cutler because he creates designs that are free of fads, which will last for many many years.
LAMPS PLUS: How would you describe your style?
MARK CUTLER: My style is somewhat eclectic. I like to create environments that tell the story of the people who live there. It is important that my projects reflect the history, values, and outlook of the families who inhabit them. Therefore, some of my projects are a little more formal, others totally casual. I guess my ideal client has a great sense of humor and a somewhat relaxed outlook with a bit of a modern edge.
LAMPS PLUS: What is your current inspiration?
MARK CUTLER: I am doing some projects in Northern California at the moment, so I am very inspired by that early California hill country. I like the casual yet elegant lifestyle, as well as those beautiful colors that you see in the California Plein Air paintings. My philosophy of The Luxury of Simplicity informs a lot of my work, so we are always looking at ways of streamlining and distilling ideas down to their bare essence.
LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite color? What does this color mean to you?
MARK CUTLER: Color is a great tool for any design; it is a great way to create mood and feeling in a space. My color palettes tend to be pretty neutral; I gravitate more to textures than pattern. My color of the moment is probably a grey/blue/lavender. My eye goes to those less expected colors that are hard to describe, rather than to the usual blues, reds, and greens.
LAMPS PLUS: Right now, I am obsessed with...
MARK CUTLER: Wood finishes. I am trying to find that perfect charcoal black, smoky color. I am tired of all the usual ones and so my search continues.
LAMPS PLUS: How important is lighting to your design?
MARK CUTLER: Lighting is extraordinarily important to all our designs. Whether its daylight or artificial light, how you can use it can make or break a project. From the first stages of any of our projects we think about ways that we can shape the space using a variety of lighting techniques. The light that falls on horizontal surfaces (mostly from ceiling and recessed light) must be balanced with light falling on vertical surfaces (mostly from lamps and hanging lights). The infinite variety of these combinations can make an ordinary space very dynamic.
LAMPS PLUS: What is one "trick of the trade" that you implement in your designs?
MARK CUTLER: I shy away from the word trick, but I think the more tools you have in your bag the more you can find ways to create that vision that is in your head. For instance we are doing an office at the moment and it has floor to ceiling bookcases on each wall and I was looking for a way to introduce something that would creat an unexpected moment. The solution was cowhide on the ceiling; it's unexpected, but reads almost like marble at some times of the day and velvet at others. It's a good example of thinking about resources in fresh ways.
LAMPS PLUS: What are some tips for creating a design that will last for many years (free of fads)?
MARK CUTLER: Well, I think simplicity and integrity is the key. Create designs that are true to who you are, not because you saw it in a magazine. My work is very neutral and pared down, I like that, that's who I am. We add some color and pattern of course, but to me timelessness is a way of looking at the world, design shouldn't be a statement that you scream, it's a backdrop for your life.
LAMPS PLUS: What is the most common decorating mistake people make?
MARK CUTLER: Scale is always problematic. I think when people are buying online or in a store they lose touch with the scale of their room. I always suggest creating brown paper cutouts and laying them on the floor of the space, so you can see how it really feels. We do this for our clients; it can help avoid some costly mistakes.
LAMPS PLUS: It doesn't matter if the budget is large or small, it still influences the decor selections. What is your advice for keeping a design project within budget?
MARK CUTLER: There is no subsition for good planning. One of the first steps in the process of designing a home is budget. We will do a rough furniture plan and then create a line item budget showing each peice, down to the dinnerware. We will then take the client shopping and present items at the cost point, higher and lower, to see where their point of comfort is with pricing. We then adjust the budget and use it as a tool throughout the whole process. By staying in touch with that we not only create designs that reflect our client, but we also prove to be good stewards of their money as well.
LAMPS PLUS: What are your top two favorite floor lamps at Lamps Plus?
Robert Abbey Saturnia Floor Lamp
Eangee Giant Tower Durian Shade Nino Vines Floor Lamp
Images: Mark Cutler Design