Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

In Conversation

In Conversation : Sylvia Melián Randolph

Sylvia Melián had previously worked as a stylist and collaborator of renown interior design magazines before joining forces with her sister Victoria (who had been working as an interior designer since 1988) Melián-Randolph was founded in 2000 and since then, this successful interior design duo have been synonymous of colourful, comfortable and sophisticated interiors. Based in Madrid and with an international clientele, Sylvia and Victoria have been leaving their unique mark in every project they do.

Discover Sylvia Melián inspiration, childhood memories, thoughts on what’s like to work with her sister and more in today’s conversation.

Sylvia Melian is co-founder of Melian-Randolph a sucessful interior design studio based in Madrid

Sylvia Melián Randolph. Photography Clara Urquijo 

Dear Sylvia, how would you define your style?

It is: intuitive, reflective, flexible, eclectic, spontaneous, humorous, unpredictable.

It is not: trendy, gimmicky, unattainable, over-thought, complicated, rigid, over-referenced, flashy.

A home in Sotogrande designed by Melian Randolph | Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez A home in Sotogrande designed by Melian Randolph | Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

A project in Sotogrande. Photograpy Martín García Perez

What’s the most inspiring interior that you have ever visited?

I am inspired by all interiors that are personal and that reflect the personality and needs of the owner. I am drawn to interiors that enhance the culture and traditions of the place where it sits, be it a humble family home in a village in Andalusia, a modern loft in an American city or an artist’s studio on a Mexican beach. I am inspired when I am transported into an environment that has soul and therefore is daring, whimsical or even austere…interiors can be simple too! Everything inspires me and makes me curious, even the simplest things. Finding beauty in that is what becomes interesting; like a great catch, like an “aha” moment. With the abundance of visuals on the internet everyone tends to have the same easy references. “Good taste” is everywhere; I find that predictable, boring. I like character, it’s like owning a big nose and not wanting surgery to fix it.

Hotel Roommate Valeria  in Málaga designed by Melián Randolph.  Hotel Roommate Valeria  in Málaga designed by Melián Randolph. 

Hotel Roommate Valeria  in Málaga designed by Melián Randolph. Photography Martín García Perez

What’s the most challenging part of working with your sister Victoria? And the most rewarding?

What is important in every partnership is to understand where your partner’s strength lies. My sister Victoria has the capacity of anticipating the possibilities as soon as she walks into a space that needs renovation. She can look at floor plans, immediately seeing the potential and she can imagine the layouts according the client’s requirements. She is very good with volumes and wise with spaces so that that the client will always have what he needs to live comfortably. This job requires the knowledge to be able to adapt the sensible with the wow factor; in other words: to live comfortably but in a unique space. My sister Victoria is very good also at solving complex technical requirements, it’s a challenge that she thrives on. Contractors love her!  Our work as a team is crucial and must be coherent so that the container my sister builds can live with the content that I want to propose for the client. The resulting interior that is harmonious and flows visually is the challenge and the reward.

Sylvia and Victoria Melian Randolph, the sucessful interior design duo Melian Randolph | Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

Sylvia with her sister, Victoria Melián. Photograpy Martín García Perez

In terms of decorating, what was the most valuable lesson that you have learnt from your mother, Mary Melián?

The elegant mix of textures, cultures, origins, colors, proportions. She also brought nature into the house: palm leaves flat on the tables, branches in simple vases, dramatic shells, corals. She could make the most rustic objects appear chic. She had that flair and the panache to carry it off. I always remember her love of wrought irons and elaborate adorned tiles set against stark white walls, empty unadorned spaces, heavy earthenware, white canvas sofas, exotic fabrics….That mix between masculine and feminine elements was very poetic.

A project in Marrakech by Melian Randolph | Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez A project in Marrakech. Photography Asier Rua

A kitchen in Sotogrande designed by Melian Randolph | Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

A kitchen in Sotogrande. Photography Martín García Perez

I adore the photo of you and your sister Eugenia in your home in Sotogrande by Slim Aarons. How was the experience of being in front of Slim’s camera? How do you remember Sotogrande in the 70s?

Slim was a good friend of my mother, Mary Melián. They met in Andalusia, Spain, in the late 60’s when he was on assignment for Holiday magazine in Marbella and Alfonso Hohenlohe, the founder of the Marbella Club, introduced him to my mother and Sotogrande. Sotogrande was a new resort that was being built in the province of Cadiz and already attracting interesting people escaping the bling crowds because of its rural feel and the fantastic golf and polo facilities, a first in Spain.

Sylvia and Eugenia Randolph at her home in Sotogrande photgraphed by Slim Aarons | Directorio Deco by Gloria Gonzalez

Sylvia with her sister Eugenia photographed by Slim Aarons at their Sotogrande home. Eugenia Melián, who works in the fashion industry, is the author of  must-read blog Fashion Sphinx (she has a very interesting article about Slim Aarons) and she has recently published her first novel ‘Wildchilds’

Both my mother and Slim had strong personalities, very firm visual codes and bold narratives. The only small difference was that my mother only wanted to be surrounded by hues of blues, whites and greens. And Slim was the opposite.

My mother and Slim instantly became good friends and she also helped Slim for many years, introducing him to the Sotogrande families: she would take him to the golf club, have a cocktail party for him, take him in the afternoons to the polo matches, introduce and introduce. If he was missing a shot, he would shoot it at our sunny and spacious home.

I remember him very cheerful, charming, tall and slim but after a bit of chitchat he was down to business…‘who is in Sotogrande, who is playing polo, who is having a party, any Americans, any Maharanees?’

Slim LOVED color, and my mother always said, “Slim, this is not Palm Beach! He just reiterated: “I want more color!”

Our Mother enjoyed Slim’s company, as fellow Americans, but it was also hard work, and Slim was very much a demanding photojournalist. Finally, after many years of friendship, he asked Mother if she would like a family picture as a gift and she said she would love a picture to use as the family Christmas card. I remember she set up the shot, and he asked her to remove her white shirt and wear pink AND worst of all, to put colorful flowers in the shot…when she prepared a vase with white oleanders or something even more discreet, he made her change them for bright pink ones and rust-colored bougainvillaea! She almost had a heart attack, never, ever, did she wear pink nor put out bright bougainvillaea anywhere. Slim won that battle.

I personally remember that shoot as excruciating. In it are my 2 sisters Victoria and Eugenia, my brother Arturo and my parents. Even our dog Jackie looks grumpy and uncomfortable. We probably had to sit there FOR HOURS while Slim moved things around and reorganized the props as he always did. And we were surely told to change clothes ten times because Slim did the styling and had to control everything.

Sylvia with her parents, brother and sisters and their dog Jackie in Sotogrande photographed by Slim Aarons

Sylvia with her parents, brother and sisters and their dog Jackie in Sotogrande photographed by Aarons

As you probably know, I have worked styling shoots for interior design magazines for eleven years. I posed for Slim four times. He was a hyperactive and extremely hardworking man. He had a clear idea in his head of what the shot would or should look like and he made it happen at any cost, working on it for hours and hours until the shot was perfect, and this is something that you can see in his photos. Nothing was left to chance, every vase, every plant, dog or person was placed and replaced and replaced until it found its place and the photo was well balanced out. I can understand his obsession with having color…one thing is what you, the person posing, likes, and another is what looks best in the magazine. He wanted color because the resulting photographs would be more appealing, festive and attractive. I have lived this myself as an interiors stylist for so many years. Photos that have color in them are more desirable and have more impact.

Sylvia Melian in Sotogrande photographed by Slim Aarons

Sylvia at her family home in Sotogrande photographed by Slim Aarons

I remember once he shot us in front of the house for Holiday magazine when we were small kids, in 1970. He wanted us on horseback and at the time there were no horse vans in the area so the horses had to be ridden all the way to the house which took two hours and was a huge hassle, and then he wanted the grooms that were riding those horses to pose in full  “traje corto” garb with “Cordobés” hats and all. I have no idea where they got those outfits then because at that time in the Spain of the 60’s and early 70’s no village sold those because there was no money for such frivolity, but what Slim wanted Slim obtained, like the iron bench in another shot he took of me in the guest room patio at home, where he had me pose lying on a solid wrought iron bed which weighed hundreds of pounds and had to be carried over the rooftop of my house from one patio to another because it could not fit through the doors….that operation took all day, with long ropes and lots of strong men pulling and hauling…just for one shot, but that was how it was with Slim.

Shot by Slim Aarons for Holiday Family at Sylvia Melian Sotogrande Home  Slim Aarons for Holiday Magazine

Last week you presented your first fabric collection for Güell-Lamadrid at Paris Deco Off,  how did this collaboration come to be?

Güell-LaMadrid has supplied us with wonderful fabrics and wallpapers for nearly two decades. They are part of most of our projects and we can rely on them year after year to provide us with a wide array of their well-known basics as well as their seasonal releases. They asked us for this collaboration because they appreciated our “eclectic and sophisticated outlook.” The collection we designed for them is called Bloomsbury and includes linens, linen sheers, velvets, jacquards, cotton in four colorways that range from blues and greens to terracotta and ochres. The idea comes from the Bloomsbury Group, the unconventional close-knit circle of artists, writers and intellectuals in Britain during the first half of the XX Century and who were influenced by a great variety of styles and arts from abroad…Italian Renaissance frescoes, Portuguese tiles, Cezanne’s very modern paintings, the Fauvists wild colors, geometric forms of Islamic design, and of course, the motifs of English Arts and Crafts organic and botanical patterns.

The patterns of this collection range between the delicate and the bold. There is something in this collection for every interior. The collection also includes wallpapers in five colorways. We had a lot of fun working together.

                                                                                                                     Melian-Raldolph's collection for Güell-LaMadrid is called Bloomsbury and includes linens, linen sheers, velvets, jacquards, cottons in four colorways that range from blues and greens to terracotta and ochres. Melian-Raldolph's collection for Güell-LaMadrid is called Bloomsbury and includes linens, linen sheers, velvets, jacquards, cottons in four colorways that range from blues and greens to terracotta and ochres.

Photography Martín García Perez

Thank you so much, Sylvia!

For more information visit  http://www.melianrandolph.com

In Conversation: Kirill Istomin

After completing his fine arts degree in interior design and decoration at Parsons School of Design in New York, Kirill Istomin began his career with one of the leading New York society interior design firms, Parish-Hadley.  He started his own firm, Kirill Istomin Interior Design and Decoration, in 2002 with offices in New York and Moscow. Maintaining the main focus on high-end residential and commercial interior design and decoration, the company manages projects in France, Italy, Russia, Kazakhstan, the United States, and Great Britain.

Istomin has become known for his exuberant interiors filled with colour, sumptuous fabrics and exquisite details. In today’s conversation, we are getting to know the  interior designer with the most opulent eye,

Kirill Istomin portrait by Mikhail StepanovKirill Istomin portrait by Mikhail Stepanov

Dear Kirill, first of all, I would like to know when did your passion for interiors start?

I decided to become an interior designer when I was around 8 years old. I was very much inspired by ‘La Traviata’ movie by Franco Zeffirelli. I was so amazed by the set design, that I wanted to recreate something like this on my own. My first decorating project was sofa throw pillows for my grandparents country house terrace – I designed round ones out of multicolored floral on yellow ground fabric trimmed with red fringe. Back then it seemed to me as a complete sensation! I thought Zeffirelli would have approved :)) ha ha!

Indoor winter garden with daybed by Kirill Istomin Indoor winter garden with daybed by Kirill Istomin

What are your biggest sources of inspiration?             

While studying at Parson’s, I received an internship at Parish-Hadley. It was an unparalleled experience! I was the youngest intern at the time, and the only foreigner to be ever employed by Paris-Hadley. Mr Hadley’s works are still a great inspiration to me. I also admire the whimsy and refined beauty of Russian historical 18th-century decor and architecture. Palaces of St. Petersburg are an eternal source of inspiration.

The dining room of Babe and William S. Paley’s Fifth Avenue apartment decorated Parish-Hadley. Architectural Digest John M. Hall Photography.

The dining room of Babe and William S. Paley’s Fifth Avenue apartment decorated Parish-Hadley. Architectural Digest John M. Hall Photography.

 

When it comes to decorating, how would you define your style?

I work in all styles, and I love color! Even if it’s a very stark, modern space, a touch of color makes it vibrant and inviting.

A storybook country house by Kirill Istomin. The client's collection of Russian icons is displayed in the daughter's study. The throw pillows are Lee Jofa and the cotton woven rug is from Vandra Rugs. WSJ

A storybook country house by Kirill Istomin. The client’s collection of Russian icons is displayed in the daughter’s study. The throw pillows are Lee Jofa and the cotton woven rug is from Vandra Rugs. WSJ

 

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who is trying to start their career in the interior design field?

Interior decorating requires a very broad education, from technical and practical aspects to more fundamental disciplines, like Art History. To develop your own style, you need to train your eye!  From my childhood until today, I’ve always loved looking at books and magazines and absorbing the images. Young designers are so lucky to have Instagram and Pinterest as their tool today…We didn’t have that when I was starting years ago.

A Summer cottage decorated by Istomin. Tour this chinoiserie filled home here. Fritz von der Schulenburg photography.

A Summer cottage decorated by Istomin. Tour this chinoiserie filled home here. Fritz von der Schulenburg photography.

 

Do you have any tips for mixing different prints in the same room?

I’m a huge fan of mixing different prints! It’s fun but requires an eye for edit.

Perfect Pattern mix by Kirill IstominDetail of a vibrant pattern mix on a project by Istomin shared on his Instagram

 

Who are the past or present interior designers that you admire the most? 

Among design legends that I admire are Henri Samuel, John Fowler, Rose Cumming, Mario Buatta, William Haines, and Stephane Boudin of Maison Jansen.

A Palm Beach bedroom by Mario Buatta. Architectural Digest. 
A Palm Beach bedroom by Mario Buatta. Architectural Digest. 

 

For more information visit http://www.kirillistomin.com

In Conversation: Rococo Interiors

ROCOCO Interiors describes it’s style as ‘classic English with a twist’ creating homes, not houses. Rococo loves nothing more than sourcing antiques, trawling through reclamation yards, auction houses, online platforms and flea markets to unearth great pieces to create rooms that people want to live in rather than reflecting a show home. Her approach to interiors means no budget is too big or too small, no task unimportant. From finding chairs to match a dining room table, to unearthing the perfect door knocker, Rococo takes pride in creating warm and welcoming home environments as well as sourcing items for them.

 In today’s conversation, we get to know the life and work of Rachael ‘Rococo’ Davis.

Rococo interiors

 

Dear Rococo, first of all I would like to know when did your passion for interiors start?

 My mother has always worked in the antiques and textiles business, so I have constantly been surrounded by creativity which has strongly influenced my style today. I grew up on the wilds of Exmoor where our home was filled with a mix of William Morris covered sofas, rustic farmhouse furniture, inherited pieces and numerous tapestries designed by my talented mother who was commissioned to produce work for many notable designers. My father was also an art dealer and specialised in sporting prints, so the art world and picture hanging was another area I must have subconsciously learnt. In fact I think a lot of this rubbed off on my siblings too. I am the youngest child and one of six and all bar one work in creative fields. My oldest brother has a joinery business (Lethbridge Lines) and two of my other brothers have a building and decorating business (Lethbridge London), so I guess you can say it’s in the genes! It’s really wonderful to share such a passion with the entire family. I’m certain my 7 month old daughter, Mimi, is getting an early fabric education when she is with me as my unofficial design assistant. She regularly accompanies me to markets and she seems particularly in love with the colourful interior at home – Robert Kime’s Sunburst wallpaper and Soane Britain’s Dianthus Chintz fabric are particular favourites!

Rococo interiors

My mother always involved me in choosing wall colours and helping to organise her office. So, the first room I essentially designed was my own bedroom – aged eight –  which was a dark blue and, funnily enough, similar to what I’ve recently had our kitchen painted at home. I think being brought up in a creative household allowed me to dream about creating stylish spaces for other people.

It was really in my late 20s however when I was spending a great deal of my spare time giving style advice and finding furniture for friends and family that I realised that while many people knew what they liked or wanted, they sometimes lacked the eye (or time) to be able to create the style or look they were after.

 

 What are your biggest sources of inspiration?

 Every day I find I am surrounded by inspiration, it is an essential ingredient to how I work. This might be an early morning walk in the park with our cocker spaniel, Edie, which gives me a chance to reflect on the day ahead, walking through the streets of London, visiting the V&A or at one of my Designer’s networking lunches at home where I meet so many other talented people in the industry. It might even be reading the latest copy of The World of Interiors or a new design book to add to my growing collection (Patrick Baty’s ‘The Anatomy of Colour’ being my latest).

 stunning table setting by Maria Castellanos for Rococo interiors 's last networking  lunch at home.A stunning table setting by Maria Castellanos for Rococo’s last networking  lunch at home.

Traveling is always a huge inspiration and it is no surprise that I am armed with oversized luggage on my return! Sussing out where flea markets are is the first thing I look up and my husband is now particularly used to the packing panic when it’s time to leave. Inspiration, setting goals and making a day as productive as possible is really important to me, especially when you are setting up on your own.

L'hotel Marrakech by Jasper Conran

L’Hotel Marrakech by Jasper Conran is among Rococo’s favourite destinations

Plates from Rococo interiors's ceramic collection. She bought these ones in person from the artist's studio on her  honeymoon on Italy's Amalfi coast.  Plates from Rococo interiors's ceramic collection. She bought these ones in person from the artist's studio on her  honeymoon on Italy's Amalfi coast. 

Plates from Rococo’s ceramic collection. She bought these ones in person from the artist’s studio on her honeymoon on Italy’s Amalfi coast. 

 

Any tips to adapt the English Country Style to modern times?

I find the best way to do this is to be brave, blend old pieces with new and never go by the book or what is seen as  ‘on trend’.

That’s why I like to describe my style as ‘classic English with a twist’, injecting plenty of colour and layering pattern where possible. Someone once told me not to change anything about my style and that has really stuck with me. My key to any design is making someone feel at home. Design is about bringing a room to life, creating warm and welcoming environments and filling it with pieces you love.  I am confident that all the treasures I bring into a home, whether it be matching, clashing, expensive or inexpensive will all work together.

I love to experiment with new ideas in my own home, I am forever changing the house around! You can make a flea market find or an old inherited chair look a million dollars in the right setting. You need to help bring pieces to life! I was brought up in the traditional English country style but when I had a home to decorate and make my own I didn’t necessarily want it to look like a dated country house or a junk shop full of clutter – I wanted it to be a wonderful balance full of the things I would enjoy seeing on a daily basis.

Here are a few of my tips to adapt the English Country Style to modern times:

Layer and mix everything, so long as you love it! I find this really makes a room unique and one you’ll naturally enjoy being in, which is the opposite of the overdeveloped five star hotel look which is so common nowadays. I find some things can take a while to find the right home, but there is always one eventually and if in doubt, store it. I mix old books with new books, bold patterns with simple patterns, bright colours with subtle tones. I usually focus on one element in the room in question and start from there. This might be a particular colour in a piece of artwork, a lampshade or detailing in a fabric.

Soane’ Britain’s Dianthus Chintz looks wonderful in this headboard designed by Rococo.

Take your time buying pieces (or hire me!) I can’t stress this enough. What I call ‘tick the box pieces’ might mean you have furniture to sit on at the end of the day, but those pieces are usually the ones you grow bored of quickly, are expensive and rarely good quality. I have heard so many people complaining that they’ve bought a sofa in a hurry and regretted it! Instead buy an old one and get it upholstered or perhaps change the cushions on your current sofa to give it a new look. Sometimes the small changes can be the most effective.  Our current old sofa has already lasted years and I know it will last many more. The seat cushions however were looking very tired so I have had new covers made in a wonderful Robert Kime ticking fabric which I snapped up at a fabric sale.

Brown furniture has had a lot of bad press recently. I don’t know why but it does mean there are now bargains to be had. It’s always a key ingredient in a room. You need to understand how much is too much, but you can also alter a piece to make it more contemporary. There is nothing more satisfying than picking up a beautiful piece with an irreparable cover (like they so often have) and getting it upholstered in a beautiful fabric you’ve had your eye on. You don’t even need that much fabric for a dining chair and it will transform the room.

 

Has Social Media helped you to develop your business?

Undoubtedly. Instagram in particular has given me an opportunity to share my style, finds and general inspiration. It was never going to be easy entering a competitive industry and I have done everything myself from designing my website to designing furnishings and now, a piece of furniture in the pipeline. I have also met many talented designers because of it so I have a lot to thank it for!

 

On her Instagram, Rococo shares glimpses of her beautiful home, travels, latest finds, and handpicked pieces for sale like these vintage brass shell sconces.

 

Favourite London store?

I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say Liberty (if it was worldwide Svenskt Tenn in Stockholm would definitely be a close runner up!)

It is the most wonderful Grade II* listed, Tudor revival building, full of history and home to many unique and decorative pieces. I love its homely atmosphere where’ll you’ll even see fireplaces dotted around. It has also been a special place which I have many fond memories – from taking my niece on her first shopping trip in London to look at the Christmas displays, to sharing trips with my mother who always tells me something I didn’t know about the building.

It is guaranteed to be one of the first stops on a day out in London and at Christmas it turns magical (just so long as you don’t visit in peak times!)

 Thank you so much, Rococo!

Images: Tom St Aubyn and  ROCOCO  interiors