I have admired Calgary-based interior designer, Nam Dang Mitchell’s chic style for several years now. Nam’s aesthetic is polished, tailored, and glamorous. She uses mostly neutral, subtle color palettes and layers furnishings, accessories, and fabrics from various aesthetics and eras beautifully. The projects in her portfolio are quite different from one another, but they each carry a common thread of her cool, tailored style and are all so chic and interesting, thanks to her perfect use of restraint. Nam’s sophisticated esthetic brings to life classic style, through a modern lens. Her work has been published extensively in various Canadian shelter magazines including Canadian House & Home and Style at Home. I recently had the opportunity to get to know Nam a bit better through our Style Files interview. Enjoy!
Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?
Nam Dang-Mitchell: I am a classicist at heart but it’s all about mixing genres and eras for me in order to create something fresh. I love a tailored room with a bit of edge or moment of sumptuousness. I’m not a minimalist, but I do like a certain spareness. Ease is the highest form of elegance for me.
PC: How do you feel that living in Calgary has influenced the way that you decorate?
NDM: We live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. They are incredibly majestic and yet they have a very grounding effect on the people here. I love glamour as much as the next girl, but I am always looking for ways to make things feel authentic, grounded. I like an earthier kind of glamour.
PC: What does your home say about you?
NDM: People are often surprised at the formality of our home but I like living informally in formal surroundings. We really use our home; the dining room has a lot of wear and tear and the kitchen just looks better with age. I guess my home says I care about art and books and furniture, but I am not precious about any of it.
PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?
NDM: Where can’t you turn for inspiration these days? We live in an age of imagery overload. What hasn’t been pinned, tweeted or instagrammed a thousand times? I think it’s important to unplug from the chatter sometimes in order to have a point of view. Having said that, I keep a file on my desktop called ‘cool stuff’ where I drag random images I like into. I turn the contents of it into collages that I post on my blog. It’s been a great visual exercise for me, allowing me to experiment and play. Most importantly, it’s revealed to me what it is that I believe in.
PC: Who are your personal style icons:
NDM: Jane Birkin, David Bowie, Tina Chow
PC: What is your guilty pleasure?
NDM: Justin Bieber.
PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?
NDM: Passion, fearlessness, humor, kindness.
PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?
NDM: The work of Cy Twombly, Jean Michel Frank and Jacques Grange have really made an impact on me. I studied Stephen Sills’ first book Dwellings when it came out in 2003 like the Bible. His rooms have a poetry and sobriety like no other. I also love the super chic mixes of Delphine Krakoff, she is a real inspiration.
PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?
NDM: Cooking and feasting with the ones you love.
PC: What can we look forward to next from you?
NDM: More home designs of course and I am also working with my husband who’s a developer, on some mixed-use building designs. I’m trying to talk him into building a hotel so I can design it!
Go-To Outfit – Jeans, jeans and more jeans
Style Mantra – Never met a romper I didn’t like
Scent – Byredo Bal D’Afrique
Piece of Jewelry – Vintage 1970 gold Rolex given to me by my husband
Color I Never Tire Of – Grey
Flower – Flowering branches
Indispensable Design Element – Serge Mouille fixture, Asante stool, Hermes blanket
Era for Design – 1930’s and 1970’s
Dream Project – Hotel
Fabric/Textile – Grey velvet and African Mudcloth
Hostess Gift – What’s wrong with wine? Nothing.
Meal – Steak Frites
Drink – Gin and Tonic
Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work – Hot bath, Scandal or Suits
3 Things I Love About My City – the mountains, the people, the airport
Weekend Destination – Vancouver
Hotel – Hotel Raphael in Paris, so old school you might just run into an African dictator in the cage elevator.
City – Lisbon
Museum – The Frick in NYC, the Natural History Museum in Paris
Artist – Twombly, Goya, Ruscha
Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood – Video Games, Lana Del Ray
Actor/Actress – Charlotte Rampling
Prized Possession – None
Risk Worth Taking – Love
Greatest Extravagance – Travel, no wait, Celine.
Go-To Color Palette – Gray & Beige
Rule to Break – That you shouldn’t park there…
Movie Set Design – The Lover
I can never have too many… – Shoes, handbags, magazines