Becky Shea is a “turn key” interior designer who is inspired by the simple things in life. Her work is dominated by natural materials that create calming atmospheres and beautiful, comfortable living spaces.
Q: Not everything in a space has to be designer, but we all hope to have at least a few special pieces. What unique or custom elements of art/design do you think are worth buying?
I completely agree and always push to have a good mix of high/low in our designs. If you go the other direction and have everything designer, spaces tend to feel too much like a museum and lack the warmth and coziness that comes with being able to entertain guests and kick back without worrying as much. When sourcing those special pieces, authenticity in both material and story are what matter most to us. As lovers of the environment and Mother Earth, sustainability is a core focus of our studio, though we believe it’s also important to think about economic sustainability concurrently if we are going to continue to have generations of incredible craftsmanship. That’s why whenever we have the opportunity to do so, we seek out small, talented makers who have honed their respective trade and take true pride in their work, while also respecting best practices around material sourcing. You end up with a truly unique design no one else will have, and also get to support small businesses that are so important to authenticity in design. Those are the special pieces that live on with their maker’s energy in them, and in our view, are priceless.
Q: As a professional interior designer, you play the role of visionary, curator, and project manager. What aspects make it challenging to find unique art/designs? What’s good and bad about the process of working with Creators on custom pieces?
I actually love the process of working with Creators on custom pieces. As a creative myself (I also design custom furniture, millwork, lighting etc), collaboration with our team of makers is a rewarding experience since there’s so much talent out there. We’ve worked hard to find specialists in the various trades utilized in our designs, and we all work well together. The challenges lie when you really push the envelope on design with mixed mediums, since you’re often using trial and error to get the perfect end product. In the end, it’s the collective insight of the team that gets it done.
Q: How often do your clients request something unique or custom? What do they typically ask for and what are their criteria/priorities for bigger budget items or focal pieces? (ie. they want to buy local, made-to-order or sustainable goods)
Since we specialize in high end, residential full builds and gut renovations, every one of our projects has requests for one of a kind, special pieces. Requests truly vary, though clients come to us for our focus on organic modernism and commitment to sustainable design, so those principals are woven into each of our custom pieces. Some of the more interesting custom pieces have been rugs where we choose the exact color for the weave, lighting where we work on using mixed metals, vintage glass and leather to add dimension and of course the millwork. I love when my millworkers and I have a hay day and find ways to mix metal, steel, wood and leather into pieces. It’s those layered elements that truly make a piece stand out and shine in a room.
Q: Does buying unique make a positive global impact? How do interior designers play a role?
I think one of the most important roles a designer plays in the client relationship is in helping to ensure there’s a mutual positive impact in the end-product. Often our clients are way too busy to be thinking about the details of their projects, so it’s our responsibility to do our best to make decisions that lead to a net positive both economically and environmentally. We support small makers from right here in NYC all the way to South Africa, Scandinavia and Nepal.
Q: While they’re both creatives, Creators sometimes don’t understand the challenges of accomplishing projects as an Interior Designer. Do you have any advice for Creators (like painters or furniture designers) who’d love to connect and collaborate with designers like you?
Interior Design, especially in the way we approach it as not just designers, but also project managers working on every single detail, is a monumentally complex undertaking that can sometimes take years from concept to move-in. As a result, there are long periods of time when we aren’t even beginning to think about anything but architectural and mechanical details. Furniture, art and accessories are the last items designed since there are often changes onsite throughout the build, and we need 100% accurate measurements before those designs can begin. Our advice to Creators is to be patient if we don’t respond right away, as it may be that we’re quite some time away from having one of our projects ready for discussing those types of pieces. Specific to painters or sculptors, we would like to point out that our influence is actually less strong in this area, since it is very much a subjective part of the process that our clients typically want to take the lead on using our guidance on dimensions, colors, and placement.
Q: What are your top 3 favorite items or Creators you spotted on Wescover?
1. Carney Logan Burke Architects – Based in Wyoming with a thoughtful eye for design, they make me want to get out of the city and relax with a nice fire.
2. noa* network of architecture – Their work is beautifully integrated into the italian and german landscape and strikes a nice balance in design.
3. VERDI – They created such a cool, experiential showroom in Bogotá that you can tell was built and designed to evoke a sense of care for their craft.