It’s not an overstatement to say that Kelly Wearstler is among the most prominent interior designers in the world. Born in Myrtle Beach, Wearstler attended college in Boston at the Massachusetts College of Art before moving to New York to intern for Milton Glaser. Upon graduating, Wearstler moved to Los Angeles where she opened her own interior design firm in 1995. Uniquely, a year prior to opening her firm, Wearstler posed as September’s Playmate of the Month, which helped her pay off her student loans and open her own business.
Shortly after opening her firm, Wearstler decorated the home of real estate developer Brad Korzen, whom she later married. This project led her to design many of the residential and hotel properties owned by Korzen’s Kor Realty Group, including the Avalon in Beverly Hills. Her design of the Avalon caught the eye of The New York Times, which said that, “her playful, elegantly over-the-top designs for the Avalon Beverly Hills changed the look of boutique hotels around the world.”
Wearstler has offered her bold style to an ever-growing portfolio of elite clientele, including boundless hotels and residences of celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, and Gwen Stefani. She also published four design books and created her own line of furniture, lighting, decor, and jewelry. So to say she’s busy would be an understatement.
Given Wearstler’s unique talent, it’s easy to see why she’s become so successful. Her designs are playful, eclectic, and packed with personality without sacrificing sophistication. She uses contrasts like masculinity and femininity, new and vintage, and raw and refined to create dynamic designs rich in compelling layers. She's also committed to organic elements, telling Interior Design that, “Growing up near the beach helped inform my love of natural materials, textures, and colors. An element of nature—stone, luxe woods, patina metal—is always part of my designs.”
To help you get a feel for Wearstler's innovative designs, we highlighted a few of our favorites below.
Wearstler designed this 10,000-square-foot Bellagio residence from its studs. Her bold point of view is clearly demonstrated in this space’s striking use of color, texture, and light to create an equally unique and compelling space.
Wearstler’s beachy background can be seen in this Malibu Beach residence, which uses organic materials and shapes to blend the indoors with the outdoors.
Speaking of shapes, Wearstler applies them flawlessly to create intrigue and continuity in her spaces. The sumptuous curves of the furniture in this Manhattan residence juxtapose beautifully with the bold black-and-white lines.
Layering is among Wearstler’s foremost design techniques, which this space in San Francisco Proper exemplifies. She layers a variety of materials and periods to tell a dynamic design story.
Wearstler’s never been afraid of color, which is a big part of why major hotels, like Viceroy Miami pictured here, enlist her to create branding that’s full of unforgettable personality.
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