20 questions with Shelley Kirsch
Interior designer Shelley Kirsch has become a well-established staple in the design community. Her rich, modern and eclectic aesthetic has been seen time and time again in the Canadian media, especially in the National Post, Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail. Since starting her interior design and decoration firm in 1983, Shelley has transformed numerous spaces of all shapes and forms by providing a full service approach. We take a moment to delve beyond just the designs and find out who and what inspires this stylish talent.
1 If you could shadow any designer for a day, who would it be?
Shelley Kirsch Lee Mindel and his late partner, Peter Shelton, based in New York have created the most thoughtful and beautiful interiors for modern living. Imaginative use of materials, exquisite and original lighting concepts, and the ubiquitous use of glass, allow for sensuous living environments.
2 Where do you look for an obscure source of inspiration?
SK Art Deco textiles create forms and patterns that never date. I love to borrow ideas for marquetry work, for example.
3 Favourite restaurant?
SK Oleana in Boston has managed to combine the exotic flavours of the middle east with the richness of French cuisine.
4 What’s your favourite room to decorate?
SK Kitchens are rooms that are forever evolving. From the technology available that can drive the layout and cabinetry design.
5 What’s your current paint colour obsession?
SK Grey-mauve is a soft and mysterious shade that pairs well with the material palette that I am fond of. Walnut, stainless steel, charcoal tiles and stone work in a strong complimentary fashion.
6 If one song could be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
SK Bridge Over Troubled Water. There are so many challenges in the successful completion of large scale projects, I feel that I often function as the “Connector” that brings both sides of the story together.
7 What’s the one store you could spend hours browsing?
SK Takashimaya, a department store founded in Japan which focuses on man’s and women’s clothing and accessories. It's like an oversized jewel box. Every piece chosen for display is like a gem.
8 London, Paris or New York?
SK Paris continues to burnish its beauty as it ages. There is a taste for living there which always remains civilized but never boring.
9 If money were no object, what one thing would you buy?
SK A Jacques Emil Ruhlmann sofa. I’ve always admired the style and craftsmanship of the furniture by Ruhlmann, a French “Ebeniste”. I would love one of his sofas.
10 What do you consider to be the most iconic design piece of the past century?
SK The Eames chair and ottoman never loses its appeal. It was the first piece of modernist furniture I experienced. My parents bought me the pair when I was 14 and they are still in my family.
11 Favourite movie?
SK The visual and literary poetry contained in the small Irish movie Once is quietly poignant. Not a blockbuster, but far more effective in putting across its message.
12 What’s your favourite movie interior?
SK Adam’s Rib, located in a society apartment in Manhattan in the 1930s, is the epitome of Art Deco splendour. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey fit the scene like a glove.
13 What do you think is the easiest way to update a room?
SK Colour can change the feeling of a room instantly. The key to a successful transformation is understanding how light will affect the tone.
14 Best coffee table book?
SK L.A. Modern by Tim Street Porter. Published by Rizzoli, it is a comprehensive documenting of the best modernist interiors and exteriors beginning in the 1920s up to present.
15 What’s your favourite way to spend a lazy Sunday?
SK Read the NY Times and work in my garden. (Both nurturing activities for the mind and soul.)
16 Do you like to be the entertainer or be entertained?
SK Being the entertainer allows for the opportunity to try out different ideas in food, table settings and the mixing of people. It’s always fun to observe the mix.
17 What do you think is the best renovation you can do to your home?
SK Make a great main floor open plan. It always helps with the transfer of light and improves communication in the home.
18 What is your favourite space that you’ve designed?
SK A powder room can be the most fun to design as being a small space you can take liberties there that you wouldn’t elsewhere. The use of a bold wallpaper on walls and ceiling, for example, always provides for bold impact.
19 What’s the biggest design faux pas?
SK Mixing too many species of wood is a mistake. Wood, a natural material, should be used to provide calm interest and warmth. Too many grain patterns cause visual clutter.
20 Marilyn, Audrey or Jackie?
SK Audrey Hepburn had a timeless appeal. That is what I aim for in my work.