Friday, September 24

Profile: Kevin Isbell

As a general rule, I like to write profiles on people who I have met or have had a chance to speak with a great length. I feel as though I can write a much stronger and personal profile if we’ve had a chance to sit down together and exchange ideas and stories. That said, when my friend Elizabeth Blitzer introduced me to the work of Kevin Isbell I knew that I had to learn more about him and his work.

Kevin founded his New York based design firm in 2009. And while his firm may be young, he is no stranger to the world of interior design. A native of Ohio, Kevin earned degrees in both Business Management and Art History at Ohio State University before moving to San Francisco to pursue his life long passion for design. After graduating from the Academy of Art with a degree in Interior Architecture and Design, he began working for the renowned California designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy.

After relocating to New York City in 2001 he became the Senior Designer for Celeste Copper, working on projects from Pied-a-Terre apartments to Palm Beach estates, as well as a coveted room in the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse in 2002.

In early 2005 he joined Bilhuber & Associates as Design Director. In the four years he worked with Bilhuber Kevin managed numerous projects in the Hamptons, Nantucket and the Caribbean.

What I admire most is his highly curated and edited style. The interiors come across as fun, not fussy. I also like the way he weaves unique objects into his rooms, never giving in to over-decoration.

I will be in NYC the week of October 4 and will finally have a chance to meet Kevin in person. I look forward to learning more about his passion for creating artful and interesting living spaces.

How would you describe your personal style?
Collected and unexpected. I like to mix high and low. A great pair of shoes, with Levis. I find it much more interesting to find stylish pieces at every price point. I approach my design in the same manner.

What is your most prized possession
Although not exactly a possession, I would have to say my Basenji’s, Simon and Rita. I wish everyone in my life were as excited to see me walk through the door.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Being surrounded by people and things that I love. My New York City apartment is full of things that I love or represent someone special. From a clock given to me by my father, or a shell I picked up on the beach, it all comes together to tell my story.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without
My integrity

What inspires your creativity and designs?
My design is a highly personalized process which I view as storytelling. I try to inject the client’s personality into the space to tell the story that is their life. For example, I have a client who is smitten with Napoleon. For her dressing room, I have lined all the drawers and closet interiors in a Napoleonic bee patterned wallpaper. It’s a special touch that only she experiences.

Who are your style icons
Axel Vervordt, Yves St Laurent, Jacques Grange, Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
I would love to collaborate with the sculptor Richard Serra. His pieces have a quiet, subtle strength in their simplicity.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
A first edition copy of the 70’s monograph of Syrie Maughman which I just scored on eBay for next to nothing, Leo and His Circle, the autobiography of gallerist Leo Castelli, and the ubiquitous stack of shelter magazines, naturally

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Freshly ironed sheets.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
In every major life changing moment there has been someone who helped influence and guide me through that change. I believe that people are brought into our lives at certain times to teach us a lesson. Currently, that would be my partner, Patrick.

Profile by Ronda Carman


Anne said...

I can see why you wanted to do a profile. His work is wonderful.

Lisa said...

Not only is Kevin incredibly talented, he's one of the nicest designers in our industry!

Casey said...

LOVE the lobster lamps. Nice profile.

Casey said...

LOVE the lobster lamps. Nice profile.

Cristin // Simplified Bee said...

Great interview Ronda! Love his answer to this question:
Q - What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
A - My integrity


Shauna said...

Love this.

Love PERSONAL decor. If it doesn't tell the story about who lives there, what's the point?

Carrie Waller Watercolors said...

Terrific post! Such beautiful interiors. One thing I can not live without are my memories. I try to have things in our space that remind us of our travels, our friends, our children. Everything has a story!

ALL THE BEST said...

I agree! Kevin's rooms have a great personal feel. I would love to sit in one of those rooms and talk for hours.

Artworx Interiors said...

Really enjoyed the lovely images, beautiful design, and great interview!

Bridget Beari said...

Great interview! I love the high and low mix. I like to do that in my designs as well.

La Petite Gallery said...

Being from Maine I love lobsters.


Kimberly Grigg said...

I love how non-pretentious he is! Refreshing and delightful! "Collected and unexpected" is such a fabulous quote, and I could not agree more. Adding decor "treasures" from all price points and styles makes a space feel so much more customized and comfortable. Love your blog! Thanks for sharing this interview!

designchic said...

Beautiful designs AND him already. Heading to his website now!

VICKY said...

Wonderful profile!Definitely stunning designs!It's casual and easy to live with, and the colors He uses are to die for!!I wish you the very best of luck.Great interview. thanks for posting. love it.

Suzanne said...

You really are an inspiration for me, I discover so many talented and interesting people, it is very enriching.

Thanks Ronda, love your Proust questionnaire.