CAENLUCIER: How did you come to the profession of interior design?
Mead Quin: I stumbled into it. After studying Fine Arts at Vanderbilt University, I worked for years as a professional portrait artist. Life circumstances necessitated a change, and I found myself drawn to the field of interior design because of its creative qualities. I find there are many similarities between composing a painting and composing a space.
CL: How has your design work benefited from your scholastic training as a fine artist?
MQ: I approach a room as I would a canvas, using line, shape, color, value, texture and form to compose space. I have no formal training as a designer and rely completely on my intuition and artistic skills. My amazing team fills in with technical brilliance and helps me pull it all together. It’s quite fun!
“Anything Loro Piana. I would design an entire home with only Loro Piana textiles if I could.”
CL: Talk about your Pacific Heights project with Andy Skurman and how you two married your contemporary design feel with his classical architectural sensibilities.
MQ: Working with Andy Skurman was an incredible opportunity and inspiring from start of project to end. He is a brilliant architect, meticulous in his work and immensely respected in our industry. Our client, while appreciating classical architecture, wanted Andy to reach for a contemporary interpretation of it. Between the two of us, we were able to create a space that honored the classical “heart” of the space/building while feeling contemporary and fresh for the young family living in it.
CL: You recently worked with homeowners who have a noteworthy art collection. How do you approach interiors to seamlessly integrate artwork?
MQ: When working with client’s who value art, interiors become the backdrop. They set the stage. I love finding ways of creating rich and livable spaces that support the art in one’s home rather than detract from it. It can be tempting as a designer to make your own “art” the story. I, however, find myself gravitating to design that considers the human first, no matter what is most important to them, whether it is the way they live or the art they collect.
CL: Looking to the past and present, who are some designers that inspire you?
MQ: John Pawson is always the front runner. I adore his minimalist approach. The attention to detail, line, form, necessity, and palette inspire my work. When wondering how to edit wisely and reach essence, I often pull his work out for guidance. I also love Joseph Dirand. Another minimalist at heart with a manner that is relaxed, elegant and poetic. If given the opportunity to hire anyone I want to design my own home, he’d be a front runner. Ilse Crawford for her human centric design. Rose Uniacke for her brilliantly understated interiors, use of color and antiques.
CL: Where are you getting your design inspiration from these days?
MQ: Salone del Mobile in Milan is at the top of my list. The convergence of brilliant designers, manufactures, thinkers and makers in one of the most beautiful cities is the epitome of artistic inspiration. The beauty literally takes my breath away. The fair is wonderful, but the city streets are indescribable, crawling with inspiring moments at every turn.
CL: You visited the Salone del Mobile in Milan earlier this year. What were your impressions from this season’s trends and offerings?
MQ: Outdoor living. Furniture so beautifully designed, it could/can be used for indoors. It felt as though manufacturers were really understanding the value of connecting with nature, outdoor living, by designing comfortable, well-made and beautiful furniture to enjoy it in. Another theme was sustainability. Considering how production impacts our environment and how to minimize waste were key themes among many artists, especially at Rossana Orlandi… a must, must visit on your next trip to Milan. Most inspiring was the commitment to quality and good design while staying cognizant of how production and consumption impact our planet.
CL: Are there any furniture lines that you have an affinity towards?
MQ: There are so many wonderful lines. Flexform, a family owned Italian manufacturer, is at the top of my list. Everything is handmade and of the highest quality. The designs are beautiful, the craftsmanship exquisite and longevity exceptional. When working with clients, I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to purchase the highest quality possible. Buying well-made furniture that has timeless characteristics is better for our planet and easier on your wallet (long-term). I could go on… A smaller, local shop I’m enthralled with is Gary Hutton’s furniture. Some of his simple, metal tables are my very favorite. They are beautiful designed and crafted, have great proportion, are understated yet have impact. I just love them.
CL: What would your fantasy project be?
MQ: A home on the ocean. The sea is my happy place… there is nothing more beautiful to me than the large expanse of water, the cadence of the waves making their way to shore and the soft shades of blue, grey and green fluctuating with the time of day. It would be a dream to work on a home situated at the ocean’s edge with a client who wanted to experiment with softening the lines between indoors and out.
CL: Favorite weekend getaway?
MQ: Right now, honestly, home. Life is full. There is nothing better than getting to Friday and knowing I have a whole weekend at home. I love resting, reading, working on our space, spending time with friends and family, walking to the local farmers market, sleeping in, starting the day with coffee, ending it with wine, enjoying all that Oakland has to offer in between. It’s a pretty good life and I’m grateful.
CL: Favorite restaurants?
MQ: Bartavelle Café in Berkeley. A sweet, little, European-inspired café, positioned between Acme Bread and Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, is hands down my favorite food in the East Bay. I could eat the Persian Breakfast, full of herbs, soft cheeses, cucumber and house made jam every day for the rest of my life and be happy. They are serious about their coffee, discerning about their wine and make a killer olive oil cake. It’s a must try and a can’t go wrong.
CL: What are you reading?
MQ: I am rereading Healing Spaces by Esther Sternberg. She is a scientist who explores environmental influences on mental and physical health. I am fascinated with the notion that the space we create can impact health and happiness in profound ways. In the book she suggests, “people who have learned to associate a place with a positive feeling – or with hopes that the place will heal – will benefit from simply being in that place.” This excites me more than anything else about the work we do… that we might be creating homes in which our clients can thrive, feel happy, heal, connect with nature, find solitude and community, etc. is what drives me to keep learning, exploring and creating.
CAENLUCIER would like to extend a BIG thank you to Mead for her work on this feature with us.