Thanks to Donna Sapolin of Decorati.comfor the post
Interiors Without Rules: Barclay Butera
Posted on Jan 5, 2010
By Donna Sapolin
Barclay Butera is on a whirlwind, multi-city travel jaunt delivering keynote addresses on behalf of Kravet Collections, for which he has just created substantial carpet and fabric lines, and signing his latest book- “Living in Style” (Assouline, 2008), a retrospective of his residential work featuring 90 photos.
His speaking and book-signing schedule would leave most people breathless-just the two week itinerary surrounding this interview places him in Phoenix, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles, Florida and Houston. But today, Butera is squeezing in two meetings in one with a residential client in Deer Valley and another with Sundance Institute staff members in Park City to plan the opening gala of the 2010 Film Festival. As both a sponsor and the Creative Director of this inaugural event, he’s out to inject a ‘Wow’ factor into the décor and entire feeling of the party. “It’s quite an honor to be asked to do this,” he says, “and I intend to be the best I can be for myself and the venue.”
This “emphasis on excellence” ethic has guided him from the start-from the moment he launched his Los Angeles design firm in 1993, making it a point to accept any work that came along, to today when the company employs 56 people and executes residential projects all over the country; creates numerous product lines embodying luxury at various price points; maintains showrooms in Newport Beach, Los Angeles and Park City; and is building a burgeoning hospitality business.
The firm recently completed the 26-million dollar renovation of the “L’Auberge del Mar” hotel in Del Mar, CA and is in the process of designing a showcase room at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. It is the first interior design of a room at the castle since 1947 and is used for overnight stays by winners of the Hearst Castle Overnight at benefit auctions held by Friends of Hearst Castle.
Butera gained exposure to the interior design field early on via his mother’s design firm in Palo Alto. “I was organizing and updating her sample library at the age of eight and was able to learn from the ground up,” he says. “She was an extremely hard worker and demonstrated a high degree of integrity.” In college, Butera pursued a degree in political science and economics and followed his undergrad education with a year of law school before recognizing that his true passion laid in the creative arts and design.
He returned to his mother’s firm, opening a southern California office for her and eventually launching his own with the goal of redefining the look and feel of luxury. “My mother and I both emphasize luxury but she prefers a more formal rendition and I’ve gone in the opposite direction. ” says Butera.
“I aim for an approachable, livable elegance that springs from a fashion sensibility.”
In his public talks he underscores his roots and the qualities he feels made him successful-service, positive energy, and a deep connection to his clients. “Designers are basically therapists for the home,” says Butera. “We’re in their bedrooms and baths and closer than a family therapist would be.”
“I have a client-for-life mentality; I believe we need to develop long-term friendships with clients, give them luxury in whatever dose they need initially, and then grow up together with them.”
“We should remember their birthdays, acknowledge all their special occasions and be there for whatever they need, be it small, say, a single room, a few pillows, wallpaper and paint, or a larger job. This is what service is about and doing the small things leads to referrals and bigger work. A single sofa can turn into a fifth home down the road.”
Butera likens his perspective to that of the luxury automobile companies like BMW who hook younger clients on their simpler cars (300 series) and continue to cater to them with larger, more decked out vehicles (the 500 and 700 series) as they mature and gain resources. He’s given his point of view a concrete manifestation in highly diversified product lines in all the key home categories “that have something for everyone,” he says.
“I’m looking to be a complete brand. Through licensing, people can get a piece of my vision and a piece of luxury at whatever level they buy.”
The higher-end Barclay Butera Collection incorporates Barclay Butera Home upholstery and case goods, Kravet Collection textiles (four lifestyle-focused collections for town & country, mountain, city and beach) and area rugs, coordinating paint collections from Benjamin Moore, and custom upholstery and pillows for The Hearst Castle Collection. In the coming year, the designer will develop lighting, accessories, wallpaper and broadloom wall-to-wall carpeting as well as outdoor textiles for Kravet.
For more price-sensitive consumers buying at retail, the designer has created Barclay Butera Lifestyle offering home fragrance and candles from Archipelago and wall art from Wendover Art Group. The April 2010 High Point market will see the introduction of 100 more skus of wall art and over 200 skus of case goods and upholstery. Butera will also introduce natural jute, sea grass and sisal wall-to-wall floor coverings and area rugs, accessories, lighting and occasional pieces.
“Right now I’m very focused on how I’m going to merchandise the 14,000 square feet that will showcase my April launches,” says Butera whose richly accessorized spaces, rife with tailored furnishings and pattern-on-pattern arrangements, recall Ralph Lauren’s take. “We both approach interiors through the lens of fashion,” he says. “I do a lot of tufting details and nickel nailhead and layering, in the vein of adding a pocket square and cuff links to a shirt.” Butera can be counted on to evoke complete lifestyle visions with his wide-ranging product offerings but these are decidedly not trend-driven, he says.
“I’m often asked to cite new trends. For me what is stylish is what I’m designing at the moment and that stems from where I’m designing.”
In the living room in a very large Laguna Beach home occupied by a single man, Butera focused on making the most of sand and cliff views and creating a casually elegant atmosphere with a touch of formality. To that end, he eschewed heavy drapery treatments and tinted the windows with a UV coating, painted the millwork in an airy high-gloss white and the walls in Dunn Edwards’ Fool’s Fossil-a rich taupe tone.
To shape the seating area, he placed a pair of Barclay Butera Home Sussex Sofas on each side of a Ralph Lauren coffee table. The sofas are wrapped in raffia and feature nailhead detailing and a linen bench cushion lined with an array of blue-and-white paisley and striped blue pillows. Barclay is a huge proponent of using spectacular area rugs to ground his arrangements-the one underlying this setting is an antique.
The home’s breakfast nook struts a round mahogany veneer table from Baker circumscribed by four Ralph Lauren Home chairs sporting striped upholstery. A fan of symmetry, Butera placed small round side tables on each side of the bay window. “Everything is in the details,” he says, pointing out the beading on the shades of the chandelier (a found piece) and the striped upholstery on the inside of the chairs. “A focus on minutiae transforms objects and layers visual richness into the room,” he says.
In a family vacation house nestled in the mountainous terrain of Park City, Utah, Butera assembled a mix of relaxed and more formal pieces in an earthy palette of browns, rusts and reds. For him, a room is about laying the groundwork with the bigger pieces and then having fun with the smaller objects that flesh it out.
In this case, the framing is established by means of a great carpet, a pair of Barclay Butera Home Somerset Chairs with dressmaker flounces, a Grant Wing Chair with an open bracket brace, and a leather Manhattan Sofa, all surrounding a Ralph Lauren Home wicker basket cocktail table. “The basket draws the eye to the center of the room,” says the designer, “and then the tray gives it another dimension. Filling in a room is where the true talent lies. What my company is doing is creating Garanimals for the home with the objective of making it easy to mix and match and put together a beautiful interior.”
In this neutral-toned bedroom looking out over the desert landscape outside Zion National Park in Utah, Butera flanked a custom bleached oak platform bed with large zinc containers filled with branches gathered on the property. “These are simple dramatic features that make the room pop,” he explains. “The occupants are retired and this is their third residence so the goal was to provide a walk-in/walk-out, maintenance-free lifestyle. Minimal accessories and no live plants.”
A stack of towels rests on a table, intended for use of the Jacuzzi located just beyond the window. A slightly textured wool carpet preserves a calm atmosphere. The trio of antique tree prints above the bed act as a counterpoint to the desert terrain. “This room works beautifully in Utah but because it is restful and urbane,” says Butera. “And so, it would work just as well in New York City.”
Butera shaped an entertainment room with multiple seating areas for a married couple with no children residing near the beach. “The palette is quite unexpected for a waterside home,” he says. “We went for taupe, brown and ebony to fuel a sense of laid-back elegance.” Here, custom-designed pieces-the coffee table and the round side table-join forces with a Barclay Butera Home zebra-covered ottoman and neutral sofa and a pair of found British colonial-style rattan chairs.
Using a pair of canopy chaises from Janus et Cie, two found bamboo chairs and a Ralph Lauren Home coffee table, Butera created a year-round gathering space for a penthouse with 1600 square feet of terrace offering up views of the Coronado Bridge. Barclay Butera Home pillows spice up the neutral setting and a seagrass-like indoor-outdoor carpet anchors it.
“There are no rules in interiors,” says Butera. “Blue and white works just as well in the desert as it does at the beach.” Proving his point: this Palm Springs home’s irreverent mix of pillows, glassware and lamp bases in a blue-and-white palette with Zen touches, a rustic wooden table and ceiling insert, and a whimsical chandelier. “By fusing different sensibilities or merging your tastes with those of your clients, you teach them a different taste level,” he says.
Headshot courtesy of Barclay Butera Inc.
All other photographs by Mark Lohman.
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