Interviews

A Conversation With the Designer Behind our Favorite LA Restaurants

2/5/2020

We recently chatted with Wendy Haworth, the mega-talented owner and designer of Wendy Haworth Design Studio in LA. Wendy talked to us about what her career path has looked like, the best advice for someone looking to get into the design field, and how she designs spaces to tell a story all on their own.

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You own and operate Wendy Haworth Design Studio based in Los Angeles. Tell us a little about how you got to where you are with owning your own design firm. 

Well, it wasn’t obvious from the start.  I grew up outside of Detroit and moved to NYC after college.  When I arrived I just wanted to get a job, period. I was interested in photography, fashion design or interior design and the photography job happened first. I first worked at a photo agency that represented fashion photographers and then after as a photo editor at Elle and Vogue magazines for about 4 years (1 & 3 respectively).  After realizing that my boss was never going to leave Vogue and I wouldn’t be moving up anytime soon (subsequently he stayed on for about 16 more years I decided to try another field and I took a position at a showroom in NYC called Room, which is in Tribeca (and now also in Westport, Connecticut).  In 2001, I moved to LA (for love and a change of weather) where I enrolled in a handful of courses at UCLA’s ID program.  After working for a couple of designers I eventually got my own projects (with some great clients) and set up my own shop, which was pretty great.

The interiors you design have so much life to them and tell a story all on their own. How do you achieve that look without it feeling overwhelming?

Wow – thank you, That’s very nice to hear! I really try to design from instinct and what feels right for the space/client. I do look at spaces two-dimensionally from my photography background, which helps in creating a balanced room by filling up voids and balancing spaces.

Your designs often feel modern with a traditional twist. How would you describe the signature look of Wendy Haworth Design?

I love things that feel authentic and timeless and try to make sure there are a mix of elements and textures in the room.  I love the contrast of finishes and materials – rough with smooth, light with dark – black and white is always sexy. ;)

You live in LA! What are a few of your favorite places to go and see right now?

I spend most of my time in Silver Lake where I live.  I like to have coffee at Lamill and shop along Silver Lake Blvd at Lake, CP Shades & Rubbish.  Small Town is great as well as Adamae in Echo Park, Dune in Atwater.  I also love going to the Rose Bowl flea market, hiking in Griffith Park.  And there are so many great architectural tours that you can take in LA – I always am inspired when I visit the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock house or Neutra’s VDL house. 

What is your best advice to someone who is trying to make it in the design world?

Be a sponge and learn as much about architecture, furniture and design as you can.  Knowing history is just as helpful as what is hot right now. Take classes and definitely learn to read plans and draw to scale whether it’s by hand or computer – ideally by computer.  Work for a couple of firms – small and large – so you can see how things are run and your preference.

You design residential, commercial and hospitality spaces. Do you have a favorite?

I really enjoy them both – they are different for sure but that’s what makes it fun being able to exercise different design muscles and styles. 

Is there a piece or element in a room that you think makes a room?

A good focal point.  I like being able to enter a space and know what I should look at first as a point of reference and then take the rest in from there.  It might be a fireplace or a great view but there is typically something that is the star and then everything around it serves a supporting role.

 What is a design faux pas you see all too often?

Too many ideas in one space; pick the big concept or idea and build around it.

What is next for you and your business?

We’ve got some great projects in the works and I’m working on doing a couple of lines that have been in my head forever.  I’m excited for 2020!

All photos provided by Wendy Haworth Design Studio

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