If you ask me, there is arguably more design talent in Atlanta than in any other U.S. city. The stately architecture, rolling green lawns, and cosmopolitan nature of the city seems to have created an incubator for talented interior designers and architects. Among them is one of my favorites, Robert Brown, whose handsome, tailored interiors would be just at home in the South as they would be anywhere else. Like so many other designers, interior design is a second career for Robert who spent twenty years in fashion, an influence which can certainly be felt in the interiors he creates for his roster of clients. Robert has amassed over twenty ASID awards and was recently awarded the Southeastern Designer of the Year Award by Veranda. In addition to his eponymous design firm, Robert also owns one of the chicest shops in Atlanta, Townhouse, which is filled with antiques, unique finds, and interesting art. Enjoy!
Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?
Robert Brown: The juxtaposition of modern and traditional pieces excites me. We take beautiful items and mix them well. Our work has a decidedly masculine touch that stems from my years working in fashion. The details in our work really set us apart. Our boutique, Robert Brown Townhouse, is filled with bespoke upholstery, art, accessories, and antiques I source from all over the world. It’s constantly being re-merchandised, so it’s the best place to get a feel for our current state of mind.
PC: How has Atlanta influenced your aesthetic?
RB: I appreciate having grown up in the South. People here really live graciously. We have beautiful architecture and gardens and we love to entertain in pretty environments. Atlanta is becoming such a hub for modern design too. I really like that the two worlds are colliding. I think our design is influenced by this new melting pot.
PC: What does your home say about you?
RB: My home is always in a state of chaos. My children and their friends use our home as their “headquarters.” I really should put in a revolving door. I also have a habit of using my home as a “lab” and “warehouse.” To the displeasure of my wife, I may send a commode to a client or switch out a painting at the drop of a hat. Right now, I am experimenting with a chartreuse alpaca sofa. I think my restlessness might add to the chaos too. Ultimately, my home says that while we are fortunate to live among beautiful things, nothing is too precious. The comfort of friends and family takes precedence over an artfully arranged coffee table. This feeling of ease is something I strive for in my work as well. I want my clients to feel comfortable in every room, surrounded by beauty but not afraid to put a drink down or curl up on the sofa.
PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?
RB: Travel and Fashion. You really must see and experience things to produce fresh ideas. Ideas come from everywhere. I could be walking through the spice market in Istanbul and see a new color, or see a new shape in a sidewalk storm drain. This is the reason I profusely pin on to Pinterest so I have a catalog of ideas. Having spent my early career in the apparel industry, I love fashion. Gleaning ideas can be as simple as adding a pick-stitch detail borrowed from a jacket lapel that I added to the edge of a pillow or adding chain to the hem of a drapery like the hem of a Chanel jacket. You will find many of these references in our work.
PC: Who are your personal style icons?
RB: Tom Ford, Mark Hampton, Hubert de Givenchy, and Oscar de la Renta
PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?
RB: Honesty, compassion, loyalty, and humor. These are the best traits of my awesome wife, Kim, and my long-term work associate, Lanah.
PC: What is your guilty pleasure?
RB: Buying shoes
PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?
RB: I admire the work of Billy Baldwin, Mark Hampton and John Saladino. John-Michel Frank’s work is incredibly inspirational.
PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?
RB: What I do every day: enjoy my amazing family and do the work that I love. This career has afforded me the most thrilling experiences. I meet amazing people, travel to interesting places and see the best that the world has to offer.
PC: What can we look forward to next from you? (This is a great opportunity to mention your latest projects, new products, books, etc.)
RB: I’m so proud of my furniture collection with Holland Macrae, which is opening a new showroom in Atlanta this Fall.
Go-To Outfit: Levi’s, Loro Piana navy blazer, Proper Cloth shirts, loafers (no socks ever) and a crocodile belt
Style Mantra: Mix and edit and then remix and edit one more time
Scent: New favorite is Tom Ford’s Fucking Fabulous
Piece of Jewelry: Cartier Basculante Wristwatch
Color I Never Tire Of: Charcoal Grey
Flower: Alba Plena Peony
Indispensable Design Element: Obelisks: it’s one of the few things I collect
Era for Design: Now
Dream Project: Boutique hotel
Fabric/Textile: Fox Linton because of the beautiful colors. I love colors that are hard to describe.
Hostess Gift: Dior or Hermes playing cards
Meal: Dover sole, lobster butter and Irish oysters from Scott’s London
Drink: Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne or St. George’s Terrior Gin with Fevertree Tonic
Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Sign on to LiveAuctioneers and shop
3 Things I Love About My City: Historical architecture, the people and our amazing airport
Weekend Destination: Sea Island
Hotel: Blake’s London by Anouska Hempel
City: Paris, of course
Museum: Musee Marmottan in Paris (especially getting caught there in the rain on Valentine’s day)
Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Anything Motown
Actor/Actress: Rene Russo in The Thomas Crown Affair
Prized Possession: My dad’s Omega Seamaster de Ville wristwatch
Risk Worth Taking: Opening your heart to adoption
Greatest Extravagance: I better not say!
Go-To Color Palette: I love to start with grey, taupe or black
Rule to Break: All of them
Movie Set Design: The Great Gatsby
I can never have too many: Design books