July 29, 2016

Q&A with Interior Designer Denise LaVey

Denise LaVey, often referred to as the 'Destination Designer', answers our questions on traveling to design interiors and how it has influenced her projects and personal aesthetic.

by New York Spaces

Denise LaVey
Rock House. Design by Denise LaVey.
Denise LaVey
Rock House. Design by Denise LaVey.

NYS: You have been referred to as: the "Destination Designer." Why so?

Denise LaVey: I got the nickname on a plane, actually! I was talking to someone en route from Los Angeles to Miami, where I was working on a project, before heading to New York for another project, then back to Cabo San Lucas for yet another project—and they said, "Wow, you're really a destination designer"! I liked it. I think it fits.

NYS: What do you think changes your design perspective when traveling the world or designing in different parts of the world?

Denise LaVey: The great thing about traveling and immersing yourself in different cultures and settings, is that you absorb all the colors, smells, characters, all the essences of that place. You have your core aesthetic, of course. There is a foundation to your style, but the richness of new sights and people create new accents, new inspirations to draw from.

NYS: What has been one of your most favorite projects to date and why?

Denise LaVey
Denise LaVey

Denise LaVey: The Collins Avenue project in South Beach is one of my favorites, partially because the challenge of combining narrow spaces from three different apartment buildings into one personal residence really stretched and inspired me. And it also got me to Asia for the first time, shopping and researching vendors for over a month. What an eye-opening experience!

NYS: Which has been one of your most unique projects to date and why?

Denise LaVey: I've recently finished working on the interior of an FPB yacht (85 feet). They are extraordinary boats: built in New Zealand, bare aluminum exteriors, luxe interiors, only a few built, and they go to the furthest reaches of the world. I've never been on board anything like it!

NYS: Back to your Collins Avenue Residence design (we truly love it): What was your approach here?

Denise LaVey: Thank you! My primary goal was to implement a clean, modern style, while maintaining the historic Spanish/Mediterranean charm on the exterior. Lots of earth tones, parchment furniture, shagreen, etc.

Denise LaVey
Rock House. Design by Denise LaVey.

NYS: In your Rock House design, you truly made us want to be frolicking in the pool of that home. How did you create such an inviting atmosphere? It's colorful without being too much.

Denise LaVey: Well, you have to have color in the Bahamas! Really, I just worked towards making the palette fit the environment—blues and yellows from the beautiful ocean, with splashes of red like you get in the sunsets.

NYS: In Carib Cay, you did a superb job on the design choices in the poolside area. Why did you choose such stark white furniture?

Denise LaVey: The idea with white is to keep your mind open, allow yourself to fall into the setting without the furniture competing for attention. At the same time, white provides the ultimate contrast.

NYS: Your Sunset Harbor Penthouse features such a beautiful dining room. What was your approach here? And who is the painting by (we love it!)?

Denise LaVey
Collins Avenue. Design by Denise LaVey.

Denise LaVey: That is a more traditional styling. The clients' antique Waterford chandelier provided the inspiration around which the rest of the room fell into place. The painting is an antique Dutch piece, artist unknown.

NYS: If you could design a house anywhere, where would it be?

Denise LaVey: I've longed to do a modern barn in the country for as long as I can remember! It's my happy place when I am day dreaming for inspiration. I haven't found the actual project yet, but I can't wait.

NYS: Who would you most like to design a house for?

Denise LaVey: Honestly, right now I'm enjoying the cultural zeitgeist of James Corden so much! I love his shows, his writing, personality, acerbic wit...I would love to find out about his aesthetic and really dive into a project with him!

NYS: What are you working on now?

Denise LaVey: I just finished a new build in Coronado, CA, right on the beach. It's amazing—I'm so excited about it! I'm also working on the offices for a modeling agency in downtown Chicago that's really fun, as well as a pair of condos in Miami.

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