ELLE DECOR's 2012 A-List

Photographer: William Waldron
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Photographer: William Waldron

“We don’t have a particular style,” says Bill Brockschmidt, partners with Courtney Coleman since 2001. “Our goal is to represent our clients, but also to give them something unanticipated.” Both principals are trained as architects, which means a harmonious balance between a space and its contents no matter the style idiom. Particularly fluent in the world of antiques, the pair enjoy unusual color combinations—“one shade off the expected,” says Brockschmidt—and an interesting mix of patterns, particularly in wallpapers and fabrics. Up next for the New Yorkers: a whitewashed brick Georgian in Nashville and a contemporary farm in Vermont.

A Manhattan library.

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Photographer: William Waldron

The five partners behind New York architecture and design firm B Five Studio—Ronald Bentley, Salvatore LaRosa, Franklin Salasky, Victoria Borus, and Charles Capaldi—design meticulously detailed, intensely personal contemporary homes. Whether an urban apartment or country compound, a B Five Studio residence is often conceived from scratch, from initial designs through to the custom-made furniture and fixtures. Although having five creative minds in the office provides plenty of opportunities for experimentation, “there’s a signature way that we approach things,” says LaRosa. “We view our work as portraiture. We take our cues from our clients and their interests, think about their point of view, and then translate that to the physical world.”

A living room in Miami Beach.

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Photographer: Eric Piasecki

“Our work has never been trendy,” says James Aman, a veteran of Ralph Lauren who aims for the timeless rather than the au courant in his interior designs. “Great art and fine antiques,” Aman says, “never go out of style.” He and partner John Meeks draw on their backgrounds in store design, visual display, and fashion (Meeks had an eponymous line in the 1990s) to create elegant, lively rooms. The designers are especially adroit at fashioning a look of tailored luxury that evokes both past and present. Case in point: the Manhattan apartment the duo share is part Edwardian men’s club and part contemporary art gallery—their own modern take on everything good about history.

A New York City living room.

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Photographer: Pascal Chevallier

Australian-born, New York–based Emma Jane Pilkington has been busy giving traditional elegance a fresh interpretation. Attracting clients like Ivanka Trump and Chris Cuomo and Cristina Greeven Cuomo, she is known for pairing an edited selection of clean-lined classic furniture with lavish textiles and targeted hits of color— which makes sense, given that the designer, who started out in fashion, spent her childhood judging clothing by the feel of the fabric between her fingers. “I love the soul of antiques, but prefer mi them with contemporary art,” says Pilkington, who believes there’s always room for objects with a sense of history. “Even if it’s a super-contemporary space, an incredible antique almost becomes a work of art—I find that modern.”

Pilkington’s library in Manhattan.

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Photographer: Grey Crawford

Andrew Fisher and Jeffry Weisman like glamorous, unique, deeply layered interiors—with a dollop of whimsy. “Why be repetitive when you can be original?” Weisman asks. “Every room needs a surprise, something unexpected”—like a bathroom’s shell-encrusted chandelier that conceals a ceiling-mounted tub filler. Given the partners’ penchant for the baroque, it comes as no surprise that fisher’s mentor was the master of “more is more,” Tony Duquette. The stylish San Francisco–based designers recently completed a house for themselves in San Miguel de Allende and have just finished photography for a monograph to be published by Architecture/ Interiors Press in spring 2013.

The master bath in a Sonoma County home.

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Photographer: William Abranowicz

Steven Harris and Lucien Rees Roberts are proud that their work has no identifying look. Since their first collaboration in 1988, the architect and designer have partnered on modernist projects that are anything but dogmatic—from colonial barns to contemporary bauhaus villas. “Two adjectives I love are effortless and inevitable,” says Harris, a Yale University professor. “Our palette tends to be subtle,” adds Rees Roberts, a painter by training, “but lately we’ve been seeing more clients who enjoy bright color.” They are currently transforming a deserted medieval tower in Croatia into a modern home.

Harris and Rees Roberts’s dining room in upstate New York.

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Photographer: William Waldron

Timothy Haynes and Kevin Roberts are more than just interior designers—they’re also collectors and curators. While each Haynes-Roberts project, from Manhattan apartments to French châteaux, has its own atmosphere, the pair’s interiors almost always involve a selection of blue-chip antiques, top-tier modern furniture, and covetable contemporary art. “We’re not decorators who just like to put pretty swags and colors in the background,” says Roberts, who worked for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture before partnering with Haynes, an architect who worked for Robert A.M. Stern. “It’s curated— never fussy,” says Roberts.

A New York City living room designed by Haynes-Roberts.

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Photographer: Tim Street-Porter

Clients like Marc Jacobs and Richard Gere call this English-born, Los Angeles–based designer when they want warm, inviting interiors with an unpretentious sense of style. Fortune’s work is “for people who know how to live,” says the designer, who got his start creating sets for music videos before founding his firm in 1982. “They’re not showhouses. They’re for people who actually have lives, as opposed to a lifestyle.” In today’s age of mass-market design, fortune often goes to elaborate lengths—like sourcing ancient stone from a former monastery in southern Italy rather than buying distressed reproductions—to compose his interiors. “You have to get the real stuff,” he says, “or it will just look like a catalogue, at best.”

A Los Angeles bathroom.

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Photographer: Joshua McHugh

Houston’s Randy Powers takes much of his design inspiration from antiquity, so don’t be surprised to find a klismos chair or an obelisk in one of his rooms. “I covet all things classical,” says the loquacious Texan. “I covet symmetry and clean lines.” He also knows when enough is enough, which translates to rooms with an unfussy, contemporary air. He’s no stranger to color, but likes his walls—and sometimes many of the furnishings—neutral. These days he’s finishing up a Spanish colonial–style home in San Antonio, and is about to have his way with an ivy-covered château in Houston that he’s had his eye on since he was a kid.

A Houston bedroom by Powers.

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Photographer: William Waldron

The daughter of Palm Beach decorator Mimi McMakin, Celerie Kemble grew up among furniture showrooms, fabric swatches, and construction dust. After a brief flirtation with film production, she joined the family firm, Kemble Interiors, and opened its New York office in 1997. Currently working on homes from Houston to the Hamptons, as well as a beach club in the Dominican Republic, Kemble brings color, gloss, and glamour to spaces that feel serenely livable. “I’m good at mi high and low, youthful and formal,” says Kemble, who also has a rug collection with Merida Meridian, a new wall covering line with Schumacher due out this fall, and a furniture collection with Henredon expected next year. “I’m always trying to blend what feels current and of our time with things that are more enduring.”

The living room of a Manhattan townhouse designed by Kemble.

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Photographer: Simon Upton

A room by 2010 A-List designer Miles Redd.

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Photographer: William Waldron

A room by 2011 A-List designer Richard Keith Langham.

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Photographer: Roger Davies

A room by 2010 A-List designer Bunny Williams.

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Photographer: Pieter Estersohn

A room by 2010 A-List designer Muriel Brandolini.

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Photographer: William Waldron

A room by 2010 A-List designer Thomas O’Brien.

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Going Dutch

Taking a Shine

The Root of the Matter

This article was featured in the June 2012 issue.

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