|Born||November 21, 1967|
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
|Alma mater||Massachusetts College of Art|
|Occupation||Interior designer, graphic designer, business owner, fashion designer|
|Known for||Hotel interior design, product design, commercial and residential design|
|Television||Top Design judge (2007-2008)|
Kelly Wearstler (born November 21, 1967) is an American designer. After founding her own design firm Kelly Wearstler Interior Design (or KWID) in the mid-1990s, her ensuing work within the hotel industry built her reputation in California, with The New Yorker dubbing her "the presiding grande dame of West Coast interior design." According to The New York Times, "her playful, elegantly over-the-top designs for the Avalon Beverly Hills changed the look of boutique hotels around the world," and her designs for the Viceroy hotel chain in the early 2000s have also been noted for their influence on the design industry. She has designed properties for clients such as Gwen Stefani, Cameron Diaz and Stacey Snider, and served as a judge on all episodes of Bravo's Top Design reality contest in 2007 and 2008.
Wearstler has released four books, and her first, Modern Glamour, was named a best seller by the Los Angeles Times in 2006. Other publications include her second book Domicilium Decoratus and her most recent, Rhapsody, in 2012. Her eponymous luxury lifestyle brand incorporates her own designs as well as pieces she finds at auction houses, and she sells her own furniture, lighting, home accessories, jewelry and objets d'art collections out of the Kelly Wearstler flagship store opened in 2011 in Los Angeles. Wearstler is currently designing interiors for the Proper Hotel Group, a new hotel chain, as well as the $800 million renovation for Westfield Century City in Los Angeles. She was a regular guest editor with InStyle Magazine in 2014. In early 2016 an exclusive line of her homeware debuted in Harrods, and soon after she launched a bridal registry featuring designer products for the home.
Early life and education
Kelly Wearstler was born in 1967 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Raised in Myrtle Beach, her father was an engineer while her mother was an antique dealer. Her mother's interest in design had a major influence on Wearstler at a young age; she would come home from school to often find rooms painted new colors. Wearstler and her older sister would accompany their mother to thrift stores, auctions and flea markets when they were young, which helped develop Wearstler's early interest in fashion. She started collecting vintage clothing at age fifteen. She attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, where she took architecture classes, and obtained her bachelor's degree in interior and graphic design. Paying her way through college by working as a waitress, she held internships at the design firms Cambridge Seven Associates in Boston and Milton Glaser in New York.
Wearstler moved to Los Angeles in her mid-twenties, hoping to work in the film industry as a set decorator. In 1992 she was a production assistant on HouseSitter, and the following year she served as an uncredited assistant art director on So I Married an Axe Murderer. After working small roles on several sets she decided not to pursue a film career, though the experience did lead to an interior design commission from a film producer. While working as a hostess at a Beverly Hills restaurant in 1994, Wearstler was scouted by Marilyn Grabowski, who at the time was a photography editor for Playboy. The meeting led to Wearstler being featured as the September Playmate of the Month under the name Kelly Gallagher, in what The New Yorker described as a "neoclassical" shoot by photographers Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda. Excluding several future cameos in Playboy documentaries, Wearstler's association with the franchise was relatively fleeting, and she used the money from Playboy to pay off student loans and help start her interior design business.
Early projects and hotel design (1990s-2000s)
In 1995 Wearstler opened Kelly Wearstler Interior Design (Kwid, or KWID), her own design firm. The following year she was introduced to real estate developer Brad Korzen, who hired her to design his house in the Hollywood Hills and several residential properties owned by Korzen's company Kor Realty Group. The first of the residences was the Avalon hotel in Beverly Hills, which re-opened in 1999 with a style described in the press as "a playful take on mid-century modernism." With apartments filled with pieces from modernist artists such as Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen and George Nelson, The New York Times would write a decade later that "her playful, elegantly over-the-top designs for the Avalon Beverly Hills changed the look of boutique hotels around the world." In 2000, she designed the small Maison 40 hotel in Beverly Hills "with a louche black-and-red interior and heavy doses of chinoiserie" for Kor Realty.
Her work on the Avalon and the Maison 140 led to a commission designing Viceroy Hotels and Resorts, a new chain of boutique hotels, which she gave an "almost theatrical" Hollywood aesthetic. The Viceroy in Palm Springs became "her most accomplished work" in 2001, and the design of the Viceroy that opened a year later in Santa Monica also earning praise in the press. By that time she was also working on the Viceroy Miami, and other notable designs include Viceroy Anguilla on the island of Anguilla and The Tides Hotel South Beach in Miami. Elle Decor would later write that "her luxury hotel interiors" featured "elegant bergère chairs, unexpected lacquer finishes (glistening lemon yellows, Amazon parrot greens) and old-style stately wallpapers." As of 2002 she had also completed design projects for clients such as Mercury Records, Ben Stiller, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. In 2006 Wearstler designed the restaurant and lounge, BG Restaurant, at the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store.
First books and Top Design (2004-2008)
Wearstler published her first book of design in March 2004. Titled Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style, it was co-written with Jane Bogart and released through Regan Books. Publishers Weekly wrote that the book's "large, full-bleed color photographs do justice to the variety of [Wearstler's] creations." HarperCollins published Wearstler's Domicilium Decoratus in 2006, a style book featuring photographs of her Beverly Hills mansion and herself dressed in evening gowns. David Colman of the New York Times described it as "a kind of lavish brochure for Ms. Wearstler’s vision (she has a fabric line and has carpet, furniture and china lines in the works), which involves a decadent Hollywood riposte to Martha Stewart’s stolidly tasteful East Coast domesticity."
With filming starting in 2006, she served as one of three primary judges on Top Design, a reality show contest that premiered on Bravo in January 2007. Wearstler appeared in all twenty episodes before the show's end in 2008, and attracted a fair degree of attention in the press with the outfits she wore while judging. The New Yorker wrote in 2009 that "most people, including her fellow-judge Jonathan Adler, say they watched just for Wearstler’s getups," with The New York Times writing that "Wearstler’s fondness for pastiche in fashion garnered a lot of attention... but those hats aren’t calculated." The latter article quoted Wearstler stating that "sometimes I might look a little crazy, but sometimes beautiful things happen. I don’t take it too seriously.’’ In 2007, she was named to Vogue’s Top Ten Best Dressed list, and also that year TIME named her to its Style & Design 100 list of international creative professionals.
Retail stores and home and fashion lines (2008-2012)
In July 2007 Wearstler opened a boutique in Bergdorf Goodman's home-furnishings department, and the following year her office was based in West Hollywood on La Cienega Boulevard. Also in 2008 she introduced a line of decorative home goods for Bergdorf Goodman, which was sold out of her own retail shop in the store. In late 2008 she started working on a line of jewelry, scarves, bags, and belts, with plans to expand into women's apparel at a later time. By 2009 she had designed the top suite of the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel and a home for Stacey Snider of DreamWorks, and was in the process of decorating a large contemporary house for Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. She released her book Hue in early 2010, which features photography in chapters organized by color. Wrote the Los Angeles Times about the book, "Hollywood glamour, neoclassical ornamentation, pattern and texture prove to be Wearstler signatures, but color, she writes, 'is everything.'" In 2011 she was named to Architectural Digest's AD100 list, which is also dubbed the Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design list. The French version of the publication would also name her to its World's Top Interior Designers list.
By early 2011 KWID had designed rugs for the Rug Company and fine china for Pickard China, and KWID would also for a time continue designing a line of wall treatments for F. Schumacher & Co. and exclusive bed sheets for Sferra. Wearstler announced her own eponymously named fashion line, Kelly Wearstler, in spring 2011. Her first fashion collection was four years in the making, incorporating patterns and design aesthetics seen within Wearstler's interior design work. Booth Moore of the Los Angeles Times said the collection had the "appearance of being handmade or one-of-a-kind, even if not." The Wall Street Journal called her ready-to-wear clothing and jewelry "reflections of her modern, but also classic and opulent, aesthetic," while magazine W described that season's fashion collection as "a bold mix-and-match collection of hand-painted blouses, cropped jackets, full-legged pants, and pouf skirts," as well as "stone-laden metal clutches and sculptural jewels" for accessorizing.
As of July 2011 her home furnishing, clothing and accessories continued to be sold at Bergdorf Goodman, as well as through Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew, Net-a-Porter, and her website. Her new fashion collection debuted at those same stores in August 2011, and was shortly afterwards sold through a new flagship boutique she opened on Melrose Avenue on September 1, 2011. David A. Keeps of the Los Angeles Times dubbed the store "a sleek atelier where Art Deco meets 1970s Minimalism and the 1980s Italian style known as Memphis." Her winter 2011 fashion line was sold exclusively by Bergdorf Goodman, and featured ready-to-wear, clutches and jewelry. This debut season was described as having a"feminine sensibility" by Nicole Phelps of Style.com, with Phelps describing Wearstler's spring 2012 line as featuring clashing patterns and a mod-glam look. As of late 2012, Wearstler's home furnishing continued to be available in the Kelly Wearstler Boutique at Bergdorf Goodman.
Rhapsody and recent buildings (2012-2015)
Her fourth book, Rhapsody, came out on October 12, 2012. Wearstler explained that the book is about combining varied textures, scales, and time periods, opining that mixing "antiques, vintage and contemporary design pieces and art" leads to a more "soulful" interior. According to the Los Angeles Times, the book's photography demonstrates how some of her interiors are "kaleidoscopic confections while others have a classical elegance." The review further opined that the book is "Art Deco meets 1980s Italian design," and that it "explores how the worlds of fashion and décor merge." By that time Wearstler had also written monthly advice columns for publications such as Domaine, The Coveteur, InStyle, and The Huffington Post. In May 2014 her work studio in Los Angeles was featured in The New York Times, and in 2015 her Malibu beachfront home was featured in a photoshoot by Elle Decor, with Vogue and In Style following suit. Wallpaper* named her one of its Top 20 Interior Designers in October 2015.
|Kelly Wearstler on visiting Australia and her design advice (Vogue, July 2015)|
In early 2015 Brad Korzen officially launched Proper Hotels, a hotel chain that will attempt to "create an environment that is both culturally sound and keeps some elements of the classic grand hotels intact." Wearstler was announced as interior designer for a number of upcoming Proper Hotel properties, including locations in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Brooklyn, Miami, Napa Valley, and Austin, Texas, where she is designing a 35-story Proper hotel announced to open in 2017. Wearstler was also commissioned to design the $800 million renovation for Westfield Century City, a shopping center in Los Angeles. According to the developers, construction will be complete by 2017.
Lifestyle brand and furniture line (2014-present)
Her clothing is no longer sold at Bergdorf Goodman or related retailers, as Wearstler no longer has a fashion collection, instead focusing on the jewelry and accessories sold at her flagship store and website. She continued to operate her Los Angeles boutique as of July 2015, with Architectural Digest writing at the time that the store "showcases the breadth and daring of her creative output." The store contains antique and modern pieces, as well as home furnishings and jewelry designed by Wearstler.
Wearstler collaborated with Los Angeles-based confectioner Compartés on a line of chocolates in 2014. According to Architectural Digest, both the flavors and Wearstler's "whimsical" packaging are inspired by features and locales of Los Angeles. A second line of flavors debuted in May 2015. As of 2015 she was involved in a number of collaborations and designing lamps with the Italian furniture company Kartell. KWID also has ongoing partnerships with The Rug Company, E.J. Victor, and Pickard China, and as of 2015 she designed collections of fabrics, wall coverings, and trims for Lee Jofa. She also has a lighting collection with Visual Comfort and has designed a line of linens to be sold at Bloomingdale's, for a time exclusively, before also being sold at her boutique, website, and other stores. Her Kelly Wearstler Furniture Collection, described by Elle Decor as her "first comprehensive portfolio of furniture" and produced by North Carolina-based furniture company E.J. Victor, will be released in October 2015.
In March 2016 an "exclusive 'London edit'" of her designs debuted in Harrods, with Wearstler calling the arrangement a "dream come true." Her collection was the first Californian homeware brand to be stocked at the store. Opined Wallpaper*, "all the pieces are imbued with personality. From the brushed copper through to the walnut that coats the inside of the furniture pieces, a particular ardour resides in the wares." In June 2016 Wearstler launched a new bridal registry featuring designer products for the home. Also in June 2016, Elle Decor named her to its A-List of the world's best designers for the second year in a row.
Style and impact
Wearstler has described her own design work, particularly her interior design for hotels, as "romantic" in style. Elle Decor wrote around 2015 that "Wearstler encapsulates contemporary sophistication and wit, with a nod to the past and a wink at the future. The mix is altogether her own and is tailored to every job." In 2008 she was deemed a "mega decorator" by Domino, with her hotel interiors described as reaching out to "the hip design public."
|"Wearstler was an early proponent of Midcentury Modern, decking out the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills in that style long before Mad Men hit the small screen. Her subsequent designs for hotels and homes epitomized the Hollywood Regency look that influenced pre-recession interiors for years. By the time Regency peaked, Wearstler had moved on, embracing the organic modernism of California studio artisans, such as ceramist Stan Bitters, and creating 1970s-inspired rooms that glimmered with metal and glass."|
|— David A. Keeps for the Los Angeles Times (October 10, 2012)|
With a style periodically described as maximalism, she has been one of several designers credited with bringing "the decorative back to interior design" and mixing modern and historical designs. The New Yorker opined that since the late 1990s, "her style has evolved from mid-century modern to glammed-up Hollywood Regency to an ornate, layered look inspired in part by the late Hollywood set decorator and interior designer Tony Duquette. She uses intense colors, David Hicks-like graphic patterning, and contrasting textures (lacquer, parchment, shagreen)."
In 2009 Dana Goodyear of The New Yorker dubbed Wearstler "the presiding grande dame of West Coast interior design," explaining that "Wearstler represents the uninhibited side of Los Angeles, the part that celebrates how far the city is from strict East Coast notions of good taste." Mayer Rus, the design and culture editor for Los Angeles Times Magazine, stated that "I think for many people around the world Kelly's work exemplifies this fantasy of beautiful sun-baked life, glamour in California. Kelly's genius is her ability to mix elements from all different eras, styles and periods. There's a certain bravery in what she does that flirts with going over-the-top, but always stands just back from the edge."
Influences and methods
Wearstler credits Peggy Guggenheim and Doris Duke as being her style icons. As an interior designer, Wearstler finds influence in Modernism and old Hollywood glamour as created by Dorothy Draper and William Haines. Jacque Grange is cited as her favorite designer, in part for "the way he puts things from different periods together so beautifully," and she also names David Hicks, Mark Rothko, and Piero Fornasetti as among her aesthetic influences. She has furthermore cited the work of architect Aldo Rossi as an influence, as well as artists Sheila Hicks and Yaacov Agam. Wearstler visits auction houses to collect furniture and decor for projects, as well as designing her own. She believes clutter to be a big faux pas in home decor, as well as "somebody buying all their furniture from one place. The result just looks flat; it has no depth or dimensions, like a showroom." She has also criticized the trend of "too much oversized furniture," explaining that "to create a successful design you need to play with different scales."
Wearstler and her husband Brad Korzen married in 2002, and the couple have two sons, Oliver and Elliot. The family has remodeled and sold a number of houses in Southern California, for example moving into and renovating the former Beverly Hills estate of film producer Albert Broccoli in 2007. Continuing to work primarily out of Los Angeles, as of 2015 Wearstler and Korzen maintained a home in both Malibu and Beverly Hills. Wearstler is active on social media, and in early 2014 Architectural Digest included her on a list of 15 Must-Follow Designers and Architects on Instagram. The Telegraph also noted her Instagram account as "must follow."
|2007||Vogue||Kelly Wearstler||Top Ten Best Dressed||Won|
|TIME||The Style & Design 100||Won|
|2011||Architectural Digest||AD100: Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design||Won|
|2015||Elle Decor||A-List Designers||Won|
|Wallpaper*||Top 20 Interior Designers||Won|
|2016||Architectural Digest||AD100: Top 100 Architecture & Interior Design||Won|
|Elle Decor||A-List Designers||Won|
|Yr||Book title||Wearstler's role||Publishing details||ISBN|
|2004||Modern Glamour||Author along with Jane Bogart||New York: HarperCollins||ISBN 0-06-039442-0|
|2006||Domicilium Decoratus||Author||New York: HarperCollins||ISBN 0-06-089798-8|
|2009||Hue||Author||Pasadena: AMMO Books||ISBN 1-934429-35-X|
|2012||Rhapsody||Author||New York: Rizzoli||ISBN 0847838587|
|Year||Series/film||Release details||Wearstler's role|
|2007||Top Design season 1||TV series by BRAVO||Judge for all ten episodes|
|2008||Top Design season 2||TV series by BRAVO||Judge for all ten episodes|
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- Kelly Wearstler on Facebook
- Kelly Wearstler on Twitter
- Kelly Wearstler on Instagram