Kelly Wearstler

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Kelly Wearstler
Born (1967-11-21)November 21, 1967
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Residence California
Alma mater Massachusetts College of Art
Occupation Interior designer, graphic designer, business owner, fashion designer
Years active 1990s-present
Known for Hotel interior design, product design, commercial and residential design
Television Top Design judge (2007-2008)
Spouse(s) Brad Korzen
Awards Vogue: Top Ten Best Dressed (2007)[1]
TIME': Style & Design 100 (2007)[1]
Architectural Digest: AD100 (2011)[1]
Elle Decor: Best Designers A-List (2015[2]

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,[3] with The New Yorker dubbing her "the presiding grande dame of West Coast interior design."[4] 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,"[5] and her designs for the Viceroy hotel chain in the early 2000s have also been noted for their influence on the design industry.[6] She has designed properties for clients such as Gwen Stefani,[4] Cameron Diaz[7] and Stacey Snider,[4] and served as a judge on all episodes of Bravo's Top Design reality contest in 2007 and 2008.[8]

Wearstler has released four books, and her first, Modern Glamour, was named a best seller by the Los Angeles Times in 2006.[1] 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.[1] Wearstler is currently designing interiors for the Proper Hotel Group, a new hotel chain,[9] and she is designing the $800 million renovation for Westfield Century City[10] in Los Angeles.[11] She was a regular guest editor with InStyle Magazine in 2014.[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Kelly Wearstler was born in 1967 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.[13] Raised in Myrtle Beach,[14] her father was an engineer while her mother was an antique dealer.[15] 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.[15] Wearstler and her older sister would accompany their mother to thrift stores,[16] auctions and flea markets when they were young,[14] which helped develop Wearstler's early interest in fashion.[16] She started collecting vintage clothing at age fifteen.[17] She attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, taking classes in architecture[18] and obtaining her bachelor's degree in interior and graphic design.[3] Paying her way through college[4] by working as a waitress,[4] she held internships at the design firms Cambridge Seven Associates in Boston and Milton Glaser in New York.[4]

Wearsler moved to Los Angeles in her mid-twenties,[4] hoping to work in the film industry[19] as a set decorator.[4] 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.[18] After working small roles on several sets[20] she decided not to pursue a film career,[19] though the experience did lead to an interior design commission from a film producer.[4] 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.[4] 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[4] by photographers Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda.[13] Excluding several future cameos in Playboy documentaries,[4] Wearstler's association with the franchise was relatively fleeting,[19] and she used the money from Playboy to pay off student loans and help start her interior design business.[19]

Design career[edit]

Early projects and hotel design (1990s-2000s)[edit]

In 1995 Wearstler opened Kelly Wearstler Interior Design (Kwid, or KWID), her own design firm.[14] The following year she was introduced to real estate developer Brad Korzen, who hired her to design his house in the Hollywood Hills[4] and several residential properties owned by Korzen's company Kor Realty Group.[6][14] The first of the residences was the Avalon hotel in Beverly Hills,[3] which re-opened in 1999 with a style described in the press as "a playful take on mid-century modernism."[4] With apartments filled with pieces from modernist artists such as Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen and George Nelson,[20] 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."[5] 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.[4]

Her work on the Avalon and the Maison 140 led to a commission designing Viceroy Hotels and Resorts, a new chain of boutique hotels,[3] which she gave an "almost theatrical" Hollywood aesthetic.[14] The Viceroy in Palm Springs became "her most accomplished work" in 2001,[14] 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,[21] and other notable designs include Viceroy Anguilla on the island of Anguilla[22] and The Tides Hotel South Beach in Miami.[23] 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."[6] As of 2002 she had also completed design projects for clients such as Mercury Records, Ben Stiller, and Jeanne Tripplehorn.[20] In 2006 Wearstler designed the restaurant and lounge, BG Restaurant, at the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store.[15][24]

First books and Top Design (2004-2008)[edit]

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.[25] Publishers Weekly wrote that the book's "large, full-bleed color photographs do justice to the variety of [Wearstler's] creations."[26] HarperCollins published Wearstler's Domicilium Decoratus in 2006, a style book featuring photographs of her Beverly Hills mansion and herself dressed in evening gowns.[3] 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."[3]

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.[18] Wearstler appeared in all twenty episodes[18] before the show's end in 2008,[3] 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,"[4] 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.’’[5] In 2007 she was named to Vogue’s Top Ten Best Dressed list,[1] and also that year TIME named her to its Style & Design 100 list of international creative professionals.[1]

Retail stores and home and fashion lines (2008-2012)[edit]

In July 2007 Wearstler opened a boutique[27] in Bergdorf Goodman's home-furnishings department,[4] and the following year her office was based in West Hollywood on La Cienega Boulevard.[4] Also in 2008 she introduced a line of decorative home goods for Bergdorf Goodman,[3] which was sold out of her own retail shop in the store.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4] She released her book Hue in early 2010, which features photography in chapters organized by color.[4] 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.'"[28] 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.[1]

By early 2011 KWID had designed rugs for the Rug Company[16] and fine china for Pickard China,[29] and KWID would also for a time[12] continue designing a line of wall treatments for F. Schumacher & Co. and exclusive bed sheets for Sferra.[16] 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."[30] The Wall Street Journal called her ready-to-wear clothing and jewelry "reflections of her modern, but also classic and opulent, aesthetic,"[16] 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.[31]

As of July 2011 her home furnishing,[3] clothing and accessories continued to be sold at Bergdorf Goodman, as well as through Neiman Marcus, Holt Renfrew, Net-a-Porter,[16] and her website.[16][30] Her new fashion collection debuted at those same stores in August 2011,[16] and was shortly afterwards sold through a new flagship boutique she opened on Melrose Avenue on September 1, 2011.[30] 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."[8] 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,[32] with Phelps describing Wearstler's spring 2012 line as featuring clashing patterns and a mod-glam look.[33] As of late 2012, Wearstler's home furnishing continued to be available in the Kelly Wearstler Boutique at Bergdorf Goodman.[1]

Rhapsody and recent buildings (2012-2015)[edit]

Main article: Rhapsody (book)

Her fourth book, Rhapsody, came out on October 12, 2012.[8] 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.[8] 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."[8] 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."[34] By that time Wearstler had also written monthly advice columns for publications such as Domaine, The Coveteur, InStyle, and The Huffington Post.[1] In May 2014 her work studio in Los Angeles was featured in The New York Times,[35] and in 2015 her Malibu beachfront home was featured in a photoshoot by Elle Decor,[6] with Vogue[36] and In Style following suit.[37]

External video
Kelly Wearstler on visiting Australia and her design advice (Vogue, July 2015)[38]

In early 2015 Brad Korzen officially launched Proper Hotels, a new hotel chain[9] that according to Travel Pulse will attempt to "create an environment that is both culturally sound and keeps some elements of the classic grand hotels intact."[9] 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,[9] and Austin, Texas, where she is designing a 35-story Proper hotel announced to open in 2017.[9] Wearstler was also commissioned to design the $800 million renovation for Westfield Century City,[10] a shopping center in Los Angeles. According to the developers, construction will be complete by 2017.[11]

Lifestyle brand and furniture line (2014-present)[edit]

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.[12] 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."[39] The store contains antique and modern pieces, as well as home furnishings and jewelry designed by Wearstler.[39]

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.[40] As of 2015 she was involved in a number of collaborations and designing lamps with the Italian furniture company Kartell.[12] KWID also has ongoing partnerships with The Rug Company, E.J. Victor, and Pickard China,[12] and as of 2015 she designed collections of fabrics, wallcoverings, and trims for Lee Jofa. She also has a lighting collection with Visual Comfort[40] and has designed a line of linens to be sold at Bloomingdale's, for a time exclusively,[41] before also being sold at her boutique, website, and other stores.[1] 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.[42] The June 2015 edition of Elle Decor named her to a shortlist of the world's best designers.[2]

Style and impact[edit]

Wearstler has described her own design work, particularly her interior design for hotels, as "romantic" in style.[14] 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."[6] In 2008 she was deemed a "mega decorator" by Domino, with her hotel interiors described as reaching out to "the hip design public."[3]

"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)[8]

With a style periodically described as maximalism,[3] she has been one of several designers credited with bringing "the decorative back to interior design" and mixing modern and historical designs.[3] 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)."[4]

In 2009 Dana Goodyear of The New Yorker dubbed Wearstler "the presiding grande dame of West Coast interior design,"[4] 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."[4] 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."[19]

Influences and methods[edit]

Wearstler credits Peggy Guggenheim[16] and Doris Duke[15] as being her style icons.[16] As an interior designer, Wearstler finds influence in Modernism and old Hollywood glamour as created by Dorothy Draper and William Haines.[31] Jacque Grange is cited as her favorite designer, in part for "the way he puts things from different periods together so beautifully,"[14] and she also names David Hicks, Mark Rothko, and Piero Fornasetti[20] as among her aesthetic influences.[14] She has furthermore cited the work of architect Aldo Rossi as an influence,[31] as well as artists Sheila Hicks and Yaacov Agam.[31] Wearstler visits auction houses to collect furniture and decor for projects, as well as designing her own.[31] She believes clutter to be a big faux pas in home decor,[16] 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."[14] 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."[14]

Personal life[edit]

Wearstler and her husband Brad Korzen[36] married in 2002, and the couple have two sons, Oliver and Elliot.[3][5] The family has remodeled and sold a number of houses in Southern California,[4] for example moving into and renovating the former Beverly Hills estate of film producer Albert Broccoli in 2007.[4] Continuing to work primarily out of Los Angeles,[16] as of 2015 Wearstler and Korzen maintained a home in both Malibu and Beverly Hills.[36] Wearstler is active on social media, and in early 2014 Architectural Digest included here on a list of 15 Must-Follow Designers and Architects on Instagram.[43] The Telegraph also noted her Instagram account as "must follow."[44]


Year Award Nominee Category Result
2007 Vogue Kelly
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[2] Won

Publishing history[edit]

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[18]
2008 Top Design season 2 TV series by BRAVO Judge for all ten episodes[18]

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "biography". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  2. ^ a b c "Meet Elle Decor's Newest Class Of A-List Designers". Elle Decor. May 19, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Colman, David. "Kelly Wearstler: The Decorator, the House and the Deal-Breaker". New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Goodyear, Dana (Sep 14, 2009). "Lady of the House: Kelly Wearstler’s maximal style". The New Yorker: 60–65. Retrieved 2011-04-27. 
  5. ^ a b c d Muhlke, Christine (April 27, 2010). "Kelly Wearstler". Design, Travel (New York Times). Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Kelly Wearstler's Ultra-glam Beach House". Design + Decorate. Elle Decor. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ Hackett, Kathleen. "Creating a Scene: Cameron Diaz's Manhattan Apartment". Elle Decor. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Keeps, David A. "Kelly Wearstler on her latest 'Rhapsody'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Rudnansky, Ryan (January 23, 2015). "New Proper Hotels Brand Celebrates Innovation Districts". Travel Pulse. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  10. ^ a b Hamanaka, Kari (August 20, 2015). "Westfield Ramps Up Work on $800 Million Century City Remodel". WWD. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  11. ^ a b Alcala, Natalie (August 24, 2015). "Westfield Century City's $800 Million Facelift: Kelly Wearstler Design, Purple Line Access". Racked LA. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Partnerships". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  13. ^ a b "Playmate data". Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "There’s Something About Kelly". Design Unplugged. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Profile: Kelly Wearstler". All The Best. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Kelly Wearstler". Fashion (Wall Street Journal). July 16, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Her Roving Eye". The New York Times. April 27, 2010. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f "Kelly Wearstler". IMDB. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  19. ^ a b c d e "Kelly Wearstler's Over-the-Top Glamour". CBS News. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d Phillips, Ian (June 9, 2002). "California dreaming". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  21. ^ Schellenbaum, Amy (June 26, 2013). "Design Powerhouse Kelly Wearstler on the Future of Hospitality, Being 'Under the Radar,' and Fierce New Competition". Curbed National ( Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  22. ^ Alleman, Richard (December 8, 2009). "Travel: Viceroy Anguilla". Vogue. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  23. ^ Schellenbaum, Amy (June 26, 2013). "Design Powerhouse Kelly Wearstler on the Future of Hospitality, Being 'Under the Radar,' and Fierce New Competition". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  24. ^ Cintra Wilson (August 2, 2007). "Prada’s Sassy Sister Knows How to Party". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  25. ^ Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style Hardcover – Regan Books - March 16, 2004 (by Kelly Wearstler and Jane Bogart) ISBN 978-0060394424
  26. ^ "Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style review". Publishers Weekly (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  27. ^ "Flagship Boutique". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  28. ^ Keeps, David A. (January 7, 2010). "Interior designer Kelly Wearstler discovers a new 'Hue'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  29. ^ "Kelly Wearstler Tableware". Kelly Wearstler. Pickard China. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  30. ^ a b c "Kelly Wearstler's designs on fashion". All the Rage (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  31. ^ a b c d e "J’adore: Kelly Wearstler". Art & Design. W. Retrieved September 19, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Kelly Wearstler". Winter 2011 Ready-to-wear. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Kelly Wearstler". Spring 2012 Ready-to-wear. Retrieved September 18, 2011. 
  34. ^ A. Keeps, David (October 9, 2012). "Kelly Wearstler's new 'Rhapsody'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  35. ^ Landes, Max (May 16, 2014). "Inside Kelly Wearstler’s Studio". The New York Times (T Magazine). Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  36. ^ a b c "At home with Kelly Wearstler". Vogue. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  37. ^ Kaufman, Dean (2015). "At Home with Kelly Wearstler". In Style. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  38. ^ "Watch: Kelly Wearstler for Vogue Living July/August 2015". Vogue. July 8, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  39. ^ a b Monoky, Anne (July 2015). "Kelly Wearstler’s Store Opens in Los Angeles". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  40. ^ a b Keller, Hadley (May 28, 2015). "Kelly Wearstler and Compartés Debut the World’s Most Stylish Chocolate". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  41. ^ "Kelly Wearstler Zuma Collection - Bloomingdale's Exclusive". Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  42. ^ McKeough, Tim (August 7, 2015). "Kelly Wearstler's New Line Is A Gold Lover's Dream Come True". Elle Decor. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  43. ^ Branca, Alessandra (January 2014). "15 Must-Follow Designers and Architects on Instagram". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2015-09-29. 
  44. ^ "The Telegraph's must-follow Instagram accounts". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-09-22. 

External links[edit]