If you’ve caught any of our recent Seminar Series, you’ve likely spotted interior designer Kati Curtis in the crowd. A self-professed devotee of the arts, Curtis is always eager to soak in something new. Curtis’s worldly ambitions are mirrored in her approach to interior design. There is nothing soulless about a Kati Curtis design. Her rooms daringly combine modern aesthetics with an array of colorful global prints and heirlooms—be it a pair of temple doors lugged home from Bali, or a shapely, hand-me-down tiger-upholstered chaise nicknamed simply, “The Tigress.” To go along with Curtis’s recent collection of DECASO favorites, we caught up with the New York designer to learn more about her design approach, including her favorite way to pump up the drama in a room and the riskiest design move she’s ever made (and why it paid off big).
Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a room:
My favorite way–and one of the easiest ways–to work a bit of vintage into a room is to use vintage textiles or pillows. I’ll create wall hangings with vintage textiles that I’ve collected from my travels. I also can’t get enough vintage throw pillows. Mosaik in L.A. is a great one-stop-shop for throw pillows. I especially love the ones made from cactus rugs, as I was just in Morocco and traveled to the High Atlas mountains where those are woven.
Favorite way to add drama to a room:
Wallpaper! We’re working on a project right now where we’re using DeGournay’s Rousseau–cheetahs and monkeys included. It’s dramatic and exotic.
Favorite way to mix high and low:
I’ll purchase a good quality vintage sofa and upholster it in a commercial-grade fabric. We have a lot of clients with pets and kids and we want to give them luxury that’s also going to stand up to abuse. Silk velvets wouldn’t last a second. Although we love high-end fabrics, sometimes they’re just not practical.
Favorite decorating trick?
Deep, dark paint colors or wall coverings to give small rooms more depth and to make them feel larger.
Favorite design risk you’ve ever taken?
Installing a dramatic floral wallpaper behind a two-story steel staircase. The client says to this day that he “never approved it,” but, thankfully, in the end he was thrilled with the result. We needed the feminine floral to balance out the hard masculine edges of the stairs.
Most unusual piece you’ve ever sourced for a project?
Temple doors that I brought back from Bali to create a client’s mini-bar and storage cabinet. Truth be told, I was scared they’d never arrive in one piece, but it all worked out beautifully and we were able to create a custom built-in that’s now a show-stopper.
Favorite paint color:
St. John Blue from Benjamin Moore. I painted our new office with it. It’s serene, yet energizing and works with everything.
Favorite pattern (and how you love to use it):
I tend to gravitate towards Middle Eastern patterns, but stylized florals are the my go-to for window treatments. I would like to say that I’ve never met a pattern I didn’t like, but I typically stay away from stripes and herringbone patterns. Visually, I think they can be harsh.
Favorite color combo:
Deep teal and plum. Although, this will change tomorrow depending on what I’m working on!
Favorite furniture makers:
Too many to name! Tommi Parzinger and Sergio Rodrigues for Mid-Century. However, I am currently focused on the Wiener Werkstätte movement and sourcing pieces from Josef Hoffmann. I’m also adding in some 1980s pieces from the post-modern master Ettore Sottsass. I love the element of fun that one or two of these pieces can provide. All of this being said, I’m still happy with Louis XVI dining chairs in any of our projects. It’s the mix that’s key!
Favorite room in your house:
My bedroom. We have a breathtaking view of Central Park. It is always changing and is so inspiring.
Favorite piece of art you own:
A framed silk embroidered tapestry I brought back from a trip to Morocco.
Favorite project in your portfolio?
The next one! I’m always coming up with new ideas. There are so many special things in each project. Honestly, it’s the vintage finds and the stories behind them that are most meaningful to me.
Tell us more about your experience with DECASO!
DECASO has made shopping for projects a joy because they offer a curated selection of dealers who resonate with my aesthetic. I’ve also been to several installment of DECASO’s Seminar Series, which have provided me with behind-the-scenes insight into some of the best makers around, including the Haas Brothers and Anthony Morris Studio. I’m all about knowing where things come from and how things are made, so I jump at any chance to broaden my knowledge. I’ve previously spent years building relationships with vendors, so even in the age of technology, I want to work with people I both know and trust.
What’s your favorite part of DECASO?
I love the Arrivals Lounge since it alerts me to new items as they come in. Since I’m on DECASO so much that sometimes I need an edited view showing me what I haven’t already discovered already.
Any special projects you’re working on and browsing DECASO for?
Currently, my team and I are on the hunt for a vintage disco ball. Also, we currently have a client who loves Art Nouveau, so we’re considering a number of items from Newel. I love pretty much everything from Elizabeth Pash as well. She has such a keen eye for mixing the classic and modern, which is what I’m all about. I know anything she has is going to work in my projects.
Favorite item on DECASO right now:
George III Lacquered Secretary
Favorite travel destination:
Everywhere! Travel is what feeds my soul. If I had to single out a couple of favorites they would be Morocco and India.
Favorite hotel to check in to:
The Leela Palace in Dehli.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Getting on a plane to some place far away.
Favorite entertaining essential:
Vintage table linens.
Egon Schiele (I do have a dark side).
Favorite thing to collect:
I collect miniature Indian paintings. The intricacy and detail are so inspiring to me.
YOUR CITY: NEW YORK CITY
Favorite hotel to recommend to visiting friends:
Favorite local flea market/vintage hunting ground: I head south for vintage finds:
214 Modern is one of my secret sources. I guess after this it won’t be a secret anymore!