Los Angeles–based Kristen Buckingham discovered her passion for design while working on a dream home for her family (she and husband Lindsey Buckingham, from Fleetwood Mac, have three kids). Her Wallace Neff–inspired house led to decorating an actual Neff homestead for actress Reese Witherspoon, as well as to an eponymous shop along the La Cienega design corridor, where she showcases antiques and modern art, as well as her line of bespoke furniture. "Everything I gravitate toward is traditional at heart but has an edge to it," says Buckingham. "I like things fresh and clean—nothing is worse than a home where no one could possibly be comfortable."
In 2010, ELLE DECOR named Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller as designers to watch—but over the past three years, the husband-and-wife team has gone from emerging to established. Ever since a boost from Vogue editor Anna Wintour, an early high-profile client, the New York couple has been turning out a stunning string of interiors for clients in places from Connecticut to Florida, each with a distinctly different vibe. "Every project is shaped to fit the user—we don't have a stamp or a look," says Carrier. "What we maintain," adds Miller, "is a point of view that's edited, light, and tailored." This fall, that vision will extend to product design, with a collection of carpets for Studio Four NYC. .
The Franco-American husband-and-wife team of Laurent Champeau and Kelli Wilde has been creating sophisticated interiors since 2011. Fluent in spaces of all kinds, the Paris-based couple is as adept at designing a New York white-box penthouse as an ornate apartment on the Seine. "Every home you design is a collaboration," says Champeau, "between your taste, the client's taste, the location, and how the client lives." While they don't have a signature look, the phrase "understated chic" resonates for them, says Wilde. "When you walk into our rooms, you are not afraid to sit down," she adds. Currently working on a loft, a pied-à-terre, and a house in Paris, they will open a U.S. office this year. .
With a gifted sense of scale and proportion, Jean-Louis Deniot creates interiors with classic architectural details that have been cleaned up and sharpened for today. "I've always loved history—every period," says the Parisian designer. "But even when I use academic details, I come out with my own versions of them." Frequently working in muted colors, Deniot adds drama with showstopping finishes and materials, and no shortage of sculptural and textural elements. His current projects include residences from New York to New Delhi, as well as furniture and lighting collections for Jean de Merry, George Smith, Bronze d'Art Français, Marc de Berny, and Pouenat. .
"I'm deeply interested in history, but employ it in a contemporary way," says Thomas Jayne, a go-to designer for grand interiors with an impressive sense of age. "I think of tradition in an active voice, not a passive voice—because it's not a tradition if it's dead." After his training at the Winterthur Museum and brief stints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Historic Deerfield, Jayne brings a curator's depth of knowledge about American decorative arts along with a top designer's eye to each of his commissions. It's an ideal mix for projects like the President's House at Yale University, which Jayne is currently designing with selections from the school's art gallery. .
"My work is classic, but with a surprising twist," says designer Larry Laslo. "There's that edge that tells you it's 2013, not 1998." He creates crisp interiors that pull freely from different periods, and the unexpected elements often come from striking contemporary artworks or bold combinations of colors—hardly a surprise given Laslo's background. He worked as a painter and fashion illustrator before landing his first big interior design commission: overhauling Bergdorf Goodman in the 1980s. Since then, in addition to homes for private clients across the country, he has designed furniture, fabrics, and other products for companies such as Robert Allen and Guy Chaddock & Co.
The New York–based designer Brian J. McCarthy draws inspiration from the culture and elegance of European living, but "distilled through an American thought process," he says. That translates into eclectic spaces grounded by an understanding of history, but realized with a focus on functionality, comfort, and sumptuous materials. McCarthy, a former partner at Parish-Hadley, frequently strikes just the right note in his clients' homes by creating custom elements with far-flung artisans—from a Japanese textile designer to a Parisian atelier that normally specializes in appliqué and embroidery for haute couture. His first book, aptly titled Luminous Interiors, is due out this fall. .
Although this native New Yorker has a degree in architecture, he prefers the term "decorator." "We've lost confidence in the power of decorating," he says, "which is the part of design I like best." He's calling his upcoming book Tom Scheerer Decorates, an homage to inspiration Billy Baldwin. "I like to think of my rooms as cheerful," he says. They also tend to be tailored, textured, and tonal rather than heavily embellished, although his "relaxed modernism" can also embrace the occasional antique or saucy textile. New projects include a house in Antigua, a resort in Panama, and a home on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. .
The Milan-based duo of Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini specializes in baronial rooms that are steeped in history without being tied to any period. Working with salvaged fragments and highly skilled artisans, they fashion dramatic spaces "that do not live in the past but interpret it," says Peregalli. "We match the past with something that lives now," continues Rimini, "but gives the impression of having always been there." The firm's American projects include a Manhattan apartment for style arbiter Hamish Bowles—who wrote a foreword for their monograph, The Invention of the Past—and a Gramercy Park townhouse for artists Rachel Feinstein and John Currin. .
"I don't think I have a signature look," says Illinois native and Harvard-trained architect Alan Wanzenberg. "It's more like a sensibility," he adds, describing his work as confident, spontaneous, and edited. It's also elegant, understated, and serene. Common to his clients, he says, is "a high commitment to art and exceptional furniture." His work is modern, but far from cold or sterile. Currently on his calendar is the renovation of an apartment in Manhattan's famed Ansonia building and the conversion of the Toy Center building into condos. He's also designing a line of fixtures for Remains Lighting and working on his first book. .