March 16, 2017

Q&A with Interior Designer and Architect Wesley Moon

Wesley Moon, of the eponymous design firm, talks about his aesthetic, living in period rooms, and starting his own firm at the height of the market crash in 2008.

by New York Spaces

Wesley Moon, Park Avenue
Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by William Waldron.
Wesley Moon by William Waldron
Wesley Moon; Photograph by William Waldron.

NYS: You came into the design fold at a young age! How did your mother's career as a designer influence your direction?

Wesley Moon: My mother has always been a very creative person in many ways. She's an amazing decorative painter more than anything else and she's still doing that today. What she taught me wasn't an aesthetic. She taught me to never accept anything in life I don't like, but to do whatever it takes to make it better —and it's okay to take chances and experiment along the way to get it right. She was always changing up our home, her cooking, her hair... She always wanted to learn something new and to improve everything. And sure, not every attempt worked out the way she hoped, but most of the time it did, and when it didn't she just tired again. I got my drive, ambition, and inability to accept "no" for an answer from those lessons.

NYS: We love that you studied both architecture and interior design. Which of the two fields are you most drawn to and why?

Wesley Moon by Peter Murdock.
Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by Peter Murdock.

Wesley Moon: That's a tough answer. Before interior design became a true profession in the early 20th Century, the architect did it all... And that makes sense to me. Today, it seems most architects (and architecture as a field of study) tend to ignore decoration or even how people will live in the space. Most new construction apartments I see don't even consider where the bed will go or a good place to put a sofa... I'm working on a project now where we're redoing all of the ceilings in a new building because no consideration was given to the lighting plan, not to mention the aesthetics. Having a background in both fields gives me the tools to correct these sorts of issues so that the architecture and interior design can meld together as one cohesive unit. To me they are inseparable.

Wesley Moon, Peter Murdock
Fire Island Bungalow by Wesley Moon; Photograph by Peter Murdock.

NYS: How did your past working for firms and designers such as Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Thom Filicia influence your design views?

Wesley Moon: SOM was my first job in New York. There I learned that a big corporate environment wasn't for me. It's an amazing firm and I'm honored to have worked there, but I love what I do now because it's so personal and intimate. However, I'm very thankful for SOM because I honed my AutoCAD skills to perfection, which kept me very marketable as I searched for my future jobs. After SOM, I worked for several big name designers. That's where I really learned how to be a designer. I've always had my own aesthetic ideas, but working for several high-end firms before starting my own showed me what works and what doesn't when it comes to the business and client services side of interior design—which is honestly the most important part. You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you don't know how to run a business or deal with clients, then you're not going to get very far.

NYS: When and why did you start your own firm?

Wesley Moon by Peter Murdock
Fire Island Bungalow by Wesley Moon;
Photograph by Peter Murdock.

Wesley Moon: I started my own firm in 2008—yes, just before the market crashed! At the time, I had a great job with an amazing firm which I was very happy with, but I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and the opportunity to take on a big project on my own fell in my lap. So I took it. It was a big risk, especially in those financial times, but thankfully it all just dropped into place. One project lead to a referral for another and it grew from there. It wasn't easy and I learned a lot of rough lessons in the beginning, but eight years later I'm so glad I did it. I also think the timing was perfect because clients didn't want to be very conspicuous with their spending in that 2008—2010 timeframe, so they would hire me instead of big name to stay under the radar. This allowed me to quickly build a name and a great client base.

Fire Island Bungalow by Wesley Moon; Photograph by Marco Ricca
Holiday House Hamptons by Wesley Moon;
Photograph by Marco Ricca.

NYS: What is a basic tenet of your firm?

Wesley Moon: That it's not all about us. We are in the design business. People are hiring us to create their home, so our designs need to be focused on their needs, and the rooms need to reflect the people that live there. Happy clients are our main concern and we can't let our ego get in the way of that.

NYS: Is there a period or style you are most drawn to? If so, why?

Wesley Moon: I appreciate aspects of most every period or style, but I can't think of a single historical style that I would want to live in just as it is. It's great to see period rooms in museums and movies, but for living, I love interiors that tell a story about its inhabitants. Not a time capsule.

NYS: Do you believe in mixing periods of design and decoration in your projects? If so, what do you think the art of the mix might add to a space?

Wesley Moon: One hundred percent! However, many designers talk about mixing styles and periods, but for

Wesley Moon
Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by Tom McWilliam.

me, it's more involved than just pairing an Edwardian table with new B&B Italia dining chairs for shock value, or because that's what everyone else is doing. That can create tension in an interior that's uncomfortable... And while a little tension can be good, a home should be a place to rest, to get away, to entertain, and to be with family. All of the items in a room should hum together to create that peace. This doesn't mean rooms should be boring and recede into the background. Au contraire! It just means that the volume around the room should be at the same level and everything has to be balanced. Color, proportion, visual weight—they all have to work together to create a harmonious environment. Mixing styles of furniture and textiles, if done in a balanced way, gives the feeling that the room has evolved over time, which is comforting and personal. That makes a room truly contemporary and timeless because it can keep evolving without destroying the design intent. My ability to bring all of these aspects together to create interiors that are elegant yet comfortable, beautiful yet practical—and most importantly livable—is what I bring to the table.

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

Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by William Waldron.
Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by William Waldron.

Wesley Moon: I have a few, but if I had to pick one, I would say my favorite project to date is a Park Avenue apartment that I did for a photography collector and her family (Featured in the Feb 2017 issue of House Beautiful). That was the first really big project that I did on my own. The client truly wanted to get it right so we weren't in a rush. We took our time and found the perfect piece for everything. It was a great collaboration and we learned from each other, becoming friends along the way. That project illustrates all of the qualities that I listed above perfectly. It incorporates many periods and styles, but that aspect doesn't jump out at you. It all comes together into one peaceful, beautiful, and cohesive space. Every time I look at the photos, I hear angels singing. HAHAHA! Well, I kind of do.

NYS: What would your dream project consist of?

Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by William Waldron.
Design by Wesley Moon; Photograph by William Waldron.

Wesley Moon: I dream of being turned loose on a big ol' gilded-age mansion that's fallen into disrepair and needs me to bring it back to its former splendor, but in a 21st-century context. I would love nothing more!

NYS: What are you working on now?

Wesley Moon: I have several great projects in the works, but my favorite one right now is a West Village Penthouse where I'm getting to really stretch my design legs on both the architecture and the decoration. It's going to be more modern than anything else in my portfolio, which I'm very excited about, but it will still be warm and inviting. Everything is being commissioned or customized in some way so that feeling of quality and craftsmanship will make it extra spe

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