The Style Files: Benjamin Vandiver

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Benjamin Vandiver is an in-demand, young designer based in Nashville, Tennessee. I first came across his work about around this time last year and have kept an eye out for new projects of his ever since. His style is versatile, beautifully layered, and refreshing. Benjamin originally worked in the music industry, but made a career change to feed another side of his creativity– interior design. Since founding his eponymous design firm, Benjamin has designed homes for a bevy of celebrity clients in Nashville including Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere of the hit TV show, Nashville and Kings of Leon’s Nathan Followill. Drawing inspiration from the past from such legendary designers as Billy Baldwin and Albert Hadley, Benjamin looks to the future, crafting spaces that feel at once modern, yet timeless.

Benjamin is definitely one to watch having recently been named one of “5 Young Interior Designers to Watch” by Vogue, one of “14 Best Interior Designers on Instagram” by Harper’s Bazaar (follow Benjamin @benjaminvandiver), and a “Designer to Watch in 2014” by Architectural Digest. I am confident that this is only the beginning of a long trajectory of inspiring work and exciting projects that we will see from Benjamin, so I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to interview him at this promising stage of his career. Enjoy!

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Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Benjamin Vandiver: That’s a challenging question, maybe one of the most challenging. I’d like to think of myself as a tastemaker – I have clients who come to me for chintz and others for a modern loft with french modern pieces. At heart I’m a minimalist, with a love for anything considered classic. Classic pieces, with a luxury fabric – I’m sold.

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PC: Has living in Nashville influenced the way you decorate at all?

BV: I would think it has influenced me tremendously – I think Nashville, the South, in general appreciates comfort. Comfort can be executed in a stylish way with use of proportions.

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PC: What does your home say about you?

BV: My home says that I live very simply – a purge generally occurs at least once a month. I’m inundated on a daily basis with color, messes, construction zones – when I come home, I want the opposite. Give me a nice set of white sheets, a few, usually old things I love and I’m happy.

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PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

BV: I have a collection of design books from the 70s and 80s – to be honest, they inspire me just as much as anything produced today. The furniture grouping and space plans always make me think outside of the box.

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PC: Who are your personal style icons?

BV: Billy Baldwin, Lee Radziwill & Vincent van Duysen

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{An Iconic Space by Billy Baldwin}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

BV: A martini at lunch!

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PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

BV: I admire honesty – in every facet of life and work.

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PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

BV: No one person comes to mind, but instead a myriad of people I encounter on a daily basis. My friends, designers I admire, family – even the people I encounter that I don’t really enjoy can teach me something. More than anything, desire has been my biggest influence.

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PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

BV: My idea of “la dolce vita” is not taking anything too seriously – myself or my work. Happily stepping away from pressing responsibilities to have tea parties with my niece and nephew – that’s my sweet spot.

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PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

BV: I’m currently working on two new restaurants with Strategic Hospitality in Nashville. They have been responsible for Pinewood Social, Patterson House and the well-noted, Catbird Seat.

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Go-To Outfit: APC Denim & Black Acne T-Shirt

Style Mantra: “make sure it fits”

Scent: Bois D’Orage by Frederic Malle

Piece of Jewelry : Vintage 1980 Rolex

Color I Never Tire Of: Black

Flower: Hyacinth

Indispensable Design Element: the use of scent!

Era for Design: early 1980s

Dream Project: The White House

Fabric/Textile: Holland & Sherry anything

Hostess Gift:  Frederic Malle “saint de saints” candle

Meal: very simple salmon on the grill

Drink: martini

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: hot yoga

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3 Things I Love About My City: culture, people & kindness

Weekend Destination: Sag Harbor

Hotel: The Marlton NYC

City: New York

Museum: MOMA

Artist: Christopher Wool

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood:  “You don’t have to be a star” by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr

Actor/Actress: Meryl, always.

Prized Possession: Although they aren’t a possession, my niece Violet and nephew Yoby – I think they actually own me.

Risk Worth Taking: love

Go-To Color Palette: Black/White

Movie Set Design: Nancy Myers

I can never have too many… Uni Pin 05

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