“For me, nature is about enchantment and beauty,” says interior designer Fawn Galli in an interview with Meredith Mendelsohn for Sotheby’s Magazine February/March edition. Galli speaks about her bright, nature-inspired interiors and the fantastical element she adds to her designs.
These are the main points lifted from the interview, in which she defines her style and explains her vision, inspiring the reader to incorporate the beauty of the nature around us into everyday life.
Fawn Galli spent the first 7 years of her life without electricity in a North Carolina commune. To this day, the natural world remains an inspirational element in her design, although she does not work with earthy, rough-hewn materials. For Galli, nature is a way of incorporating a sense of fantasy so that rooms have a transporting quality. Her airy and sumptuous spaces include flora and fauna woven into luxe materials, bronze lion paws, sculpted deer antlers and rich, butterfly-patterned wallpapers. Yves Saint Laurent and C.S. Lewis are two of her biggest inspirations.
In fact when asked about her sophisticated way of alluding to nature in her designs, she said, “I’m deeply connected to nature. It’s a strong motif, and there is so much beauty in it, such as peacock feathers and all their colours and patterns. If nature is used correctly, it’s just fabulous. The nature I’m envisioning comes from the stories of my youth, Alice in Wonderland and C.S. Lewis, but I’ve taken a lot form other sources” – such as the architecture of European cities and the glamorous Parisian discos.
Galli’s style can be deemed as glamorous, bohemian and whimsical all at once, reflecting her personal history. She combines sophisticated allusions to nature with antiques, contemporary art and vivid colours. In her earlier years, while studying abroad, she fell in love with Paris and returned to the city later on to study French at the Sorbonne and decorative arts at the Louvre. The charm of the Parisian flea markets deeply influenced her due to their charm and the mixture of styles and periods. Once in New York, she worked with architect Robert M. Stern and design impresario Peter Marino before launching her own firm in 2007.
Galli has worked in homes with fantastic contemporary art too. How does she balance bolder wallpapers, textiles and vibrant colours used with that art?
“The challenge is not to compete with the art,” she says, “but to have furnishings and fabrics stand strong next to it. Have bold pieces, but not a lot of them – you need air to breathe around the art.”
She also speaks a lot about fantasy and her interiors often have wildly fantastical elements, even around traditional or conventional architecture. How do Galli’s clients react to this?
“It is something I try and ease people into, by finding their dream or fantasy and pulling it out and pushing that. Each room needs at least one thing that’s magical, that has a spark – it could be a tile, a textile, a piece of art or furniture. Anything that makes it unexpected or a little bit weird.”