Kelly Wearstler on Personal Style & Closet Essentials
“It’s like when you were in high school, and you saw this really cute guy and your heart skipped a little.” Interior designer-turned-aesthetics mogul Kelly Wearstler isn’t talking about a schoolyard crush; this is what she feels when she unearths a new work of art, furniture, fashion or decoration. “When I find something that I haven’t seen or someone has seen from a different perspective, I get really excited and emotional.”
The guideline of his findings is a deliberate sense of error. “I may have seen a chair before, but someone did something to it, like they covered it with some unexpected fabric, and it excites me so much,” she says with wonder. childish. “It’s like a new medium that someone is working with, combining two unexpected materials.”
Consequently, Wearstler has one of the most recognizable and coveted aesthetics in the creative field; it’s like everything she touches gets cold. Step across the threshold of his recent project, the Downtown Los Angeles Proper Hotel, and you’ll notice that each element can be considered a work of art in its own right (as is the case with any of his spaces). . Whether it’s a lavish leather chair that threatens to envelop those who sit on it, a column outfitted with ceramicist Morgan Peck’s tactile tiling, or a sculptural floral arrangement by Isa Isa Floral that rivals with any paint on the walls, even the locally inspired kitchen gives in to its aesthetic prowess.
That’s what Wearstler does: she invites you into her world with design as her medium. And unlike the multi-hyphenated designer’s residential projects, the hotels allow anyone to enjoy a glimpse of her Midas-esque aesthetic touch. “Hotels are like an extension of someone else’s living room,” Wearstler says, “if done right.” The praised esthete creates multifaceted windows on a city, celebrating culture through collaborations with local artists, chefs and architects.
There is a sense of anonymity as you weave through the halls of the DTLA proper. Wearstler intentionally did not neglect these intervening spaces. On the lower level, a dandelion-hued hallway tucked behind the restaurant not only provides a second entrance, but a dynamic portal for traveling from place to place. Checkerboard carpets and sultry mauve paint cover the upstairs passageways that guests use in anticipation of their suites. And in the hall, a mural by Abel Macias invites participants to take the elevator.
Wearstler’s voice comes alive when I draw his attention to this emphasis on the in-between. “I believe every space in someone’s home should be considered,” she says. Every aspect of his projects is useful, right down to the hangers in a closet. She approaches a hallway with the same attention to detail as a room, but notes the special challenge and wonder in these often overlooked areas.
The symbiotic partnership between Wearstler and Proper Hotels debuted the San Francisco location in 2017 (though the downtown Los Angeles location was actually in the works before this one). Its spirit aligns with the ethos of a boutique hotel, a concept aptly pioneered by Ian Schrager of Studio 54. These smaller, trendier hotels are based on the synergistic ideas of escape and discovery, two words Wearstler knows well.
Despite the distinct look of a Kelly Wearstler project, she’ll tell you her aesthetic is ever-evolving. She has a thirst for discovery that is never quite quenched, but her curiosity translates into a more enduring form of novelty that emphasizes discovery rather than production. Anything can be new to her, whether it’s an old photo in an out-of-print book or an emerging artist.
Wearstler continues to delve into interior design – the adjacent art world, which serves as a mainstay of inspiration in his process. “I was really curious,” she says of her affinity for galleries. “We collaborate with a lot of artists outside of the design world, and that’s been really inspiring.” Sophia Moreno-Bunge of Isa Isa Floral is on Wearstler’s list of frequent collaborators, as they share a similar approach to infusing common objects with an artist’s touch. “What I love most about working with Kelly is her inherently fun and collaborative process; she is never afraid to try unexpected combinations and is always open to experimentation.
Working with contemporary talent in new spaces, Wearstler must have felt comfortable admitting gaps in his knowledge. “I’m not afraid to say I don’t know what it is or who it is because we all learn,” she explains in a sentence that says a lot about her approach to consumption. “There are so many incredibly talented people in the world, and honestly, it can get overwhelming.” This constant gathering of knowledge is what allows Wearstler to identify an anomaly in the design.
Sweater: Vintage, Scout / Jeans: Y/Project / Heels: Gucci/ Hat: Stetson
Sweater: Vintage, Scout / Jeans: Y/Project / Heels: Gucci/ Hat: Stetson
A testament to the all-consuming prowess of her personal style, Wearstler is almost as well known for what she wears as she is for her designs. In fact, the taste cultivator often cites fashion examples to make sense of the design. “I dress as I conceive,” she repeats. “I love textures. I love things raw and refined. I love contemporary fashion designers but I also love incorporating vintage. In terms of signature aesthetic, “I would say there is always something old, and there is always something new.”
Wearstler keeps telling me she’s do not a girl in uniform. Her own ensembles range from space-age layered pieces — products from fashion brands like Vetements and Balenciaga — drenched in various purple hues to distressed oversized denim, a baggy vintage t-shirt and a pair of Nike Air Force 1s. .
“I’m a bit of a fan of sneakers,” she notes, “because they all have their own story. I like things that are really sculptural and have their own point of view. His collection therefore has a vast range cultivated through decades of hunting. “I keep going to vintage clothing stores and thrift stores, and I love it. Finding this diamond in the rough, this treasure, is so amazing.
In addition to sneakers, Wearstler also collects vintage clothing, out of print books, art and of course antiques – she has a “chair fetish”. There is magic in this collector’s approach. She’s constantly on the lookout for her pieces to fulfill all of her projects, and if she doesn’t have room for something right now, she goes to a 15,000 square foot warehouse in Los Angeles where she houses her treasures like buds waiting for spring. “It’s like when you’re shopping for fashion, and you have to buy a dress for something and you can’t find it. When you see something you like, you should just buy it because there will be a when and where it will be ready to be shown. (Ideas for ideas are never so good.)
Collecting, says Wearstler, is the best way to foster taste, a sometimes elusive concept. “Whether it’s art, chairs or clothing, I think collecting is something that represents us,” she says. “It doesn’t give us a goal but a perspective of what we might like.”
In all areas of design, she likes to fall in love, whether it’s crashing on a sofa or vibrating with a palette. “I always say living without color is like living without love,” she continues on a complementary tangent. “Color is everything. It’s finding your way. It says something about how people feel. It’s emotional. It can alter your mood. It can give you direction. She then encourages me to prepare to a revival of colors to combat the blues of the pandemic in recent years.
This love crisis reveals a kind of rare passion that triumphs over modern burnout, and it encourages the same in its collaborators. “The environments she creates are truly an artist’s dream: spaces where color, texture, form and history collide,” reiterates Moreno-Bunge. “His design language is so open to creative dialogue and transformation; it’s so easy to play with.
Puffer: Clothing via The Webster/ Bustier: Dion Lee/ Top: John Elliott/ Leggings: Clothes/ Boots: Alexandre Birman/ Hat: James Perse/ Necklace: Vintage, Current Deal
The quintessential renaissance woman, Wearstler feels very lucky to have such a desire, which she attributes simply to loving what you do (there’s that word again) and taking care of herself- same. A working mother, her day is meticulously planned to fit everything into the waking hours. She starts every morning at 5:30 a.m. with a glass of lemon water and spends about 10 minutes reading articles from the New York Times Where the wall street journal while sipping an espresso. She trains and then comes home to wake up her boys and take them to school. Wearstler often takes meetings in the car as she ventures from school to the studio, where she stays until an afternoon pilates class. Then it’s back to the studio, dinner with the family and often more emails while her boys do their homework. “I try to put everything in say 9”, she ends with a resumption of your interrogative.
As someone who often struggles to turn off the creative charge in my own head, I wonder if she has trouble sleeping. “I sleep really well, and I attribute that to putting all my technology aside early,” she notes of her methodical practice. “To be creative and have energy – because I’m constantly busy – you have to sleep well.” And don’t forget the exercise. “Running a business, yes, it can be stressful. Things happen, but I’m pretty resilient. And what’s the worst thing that can happen? We are all healthy, so you just have to cope,” she says. “I try not to get super emotional. I really attribute that to the exercise. It’s really my relief.
Although she assures me that waking up in the morning isn’t always very exciting, Wearstler loves having that moment to herself. “My brain is so on fire in the morning. I’m really creative and super into it. Synapses fire immediately, every day presents a new opportunity to create, collaborate, be inspired.” And I love my espresso “, she laughs. “It gets me out of bed too.”