“It can feel like things are falling apart, but if you open yourself up to opportunity with a creative eye, amazing things can happen,” said celebrated interior designer David Phoenix.
Recognized by House Beautiful as one of “America’s Top Young Designers,” the Los Angeles-based designer known for a quintessential American point of view and a look rich with classic haberdashery details told an audience at the High Point Market recently about how his career took off just as he thought he’d reached his lowest point.
David Phoenix shared about his career beginnings, inspirations and philosophy in a discussion with Newell Turner, editorial director of Hearst Magazines.
Born in Boston, David left home early “with no game plan” and moved to the Hollywood area, which he had “fantasized about as a kid.” After an initial job with a Pierre Deux shop, he was hired by the flagship Ralph Lauren store on Rodeo Drive, where he worked several years while also starting his own slipcover business on the side.
While at Ralph Lauren, he impressed many celebrities, among them Maria Shriver. Unfortunately, an economic downturn resulted in Phoenix losing his job at Ralph Lauren. Unemployed, he fell back into his slipcover business and was working on a small job when he ran into Shriver at the Los Angeles Design Center. “I was trying to reach you at Ralph Lauren, and they told me you weren’t there,” she exclaimed. “I replied, ‘I’ve got two hours before my next appointment; I’ll help you find some things.” One thing led to another, and soon David Phoenix found himself standing in a new Chalet-style house Maria and her husband at the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had purchased in Sun Valley. They commissioned Phoenix to design the new home. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, David’s interiors have graced the pages of leading shelter magazines like Architectural Digest, California Homes, Veranda, LUXE and the Robb Report, and he was selected by Hollywood Reporter as one of the top influential designers of Los Angeles.
Both the two settings above were from a master bedroom retreat he designed for the Kips Bay Showhouse at New York’s Upper East Side.
At the most recent High Point Market, David launched his latest venture, the David Phoenix Collection for Hickory Chair. “Rich materials, tailored haberdashery details and engaging comfort are at the heart of every David Phoenix interior,” said Skip Rumley, VP and Creative Director for Hickory Chair.
Noting that he was attracted by Hickory Chair’s 125-year history and its made-in-American pedigree, Phoenix added, “I love classic, meaningful design, rich with tailor-like details, exceptional craftsmanship and unique material combinations. Being surrounded by those considered choices inspire us to live our best — comfortably, graciously and gratefully every day.”
The influence of his New England roots and his years in California both impact his design vision. “Yes, I’m from New England and am traditional, but I was very influenced by Michael Taylor, who was the grandfather of California Style and color palettes. What California did for American style is to introduce the sense of casual living. That is something that didn’t come from Europe.”
Hickory Chair’s Rumley believes that David Phoenix’s designs “mirror his own personal demeanor — generous, thoughtful and welcoming.” At the heart of Phoenix’s optimistic vision is an underlying thankfulness. “Being grateful is so important,” he said. “At night I have a ritual in which I write down 10 things that I was grateful for that day. Some friends and I text each other what we were thankful for that day. I believe it is hard to be upset and anxious when you are grateful.”
Added Newell Turner, “And what could be more important to our Thanksgiving than home?”
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Editor In Chief
Leslie Hendrix Wood Interiors
Gracious Living. Timeless Design. Family Traditions.
Photos 1 & 2: Courtesy David Phoenix Designs
Photo 3: by author
Photos 4-6: David Phoenix
Photos 7-9: Courtesy Hickory Chair
Photo 10: David Phoenix
Photos 11-12: Hickory Chair