First/Person: Drew McGukin

Cara Gibbs

04 March 2021


Known for his perfect pattern mixtures and beguiling material applications, New York-based interior designer, Drew McGukin, has paved a creative path all of his own with no shortage of signature style along the way. Here, Drew divulges his secret to unwinding, gut-reaction-creative processes and supporting the design voices around him.


The Pandemic shifted us into constant physical solitude, which has definitely challenged my creativity. Early morning baths have served as a good place for me to recharge and where I mentally sketch. These days, I am more willing and practiced in the art of the Pause—taking that bit of time, for whatever is needed, slowing the roll and beating the panic.

Alta_2002-02 156


The genesis of interior design is experience—connection to a space. I like to believe there’s a strong balance between freshness and timeliness in my work. I’m always designing toward comfort, experience and storytelling. I like to create things, moments, rooms that have appreciating value over time—the deeper you sink in, the more you love it and want to stay. When it comes to material mediums, I love wallcoverings. I go from bold to textural pretty easily. I think wallcoverings, much like fashion, don’t necessarily have to be forever, or they could be. But the big goal in using them is impact, depth, dimension, personality, or point-of-view. Using a wallcovering is a design statement declaring intention: I want this. I am speaking to you. I want better than average. Congruently, I think a good trimming resembles a strong punctuation. I love leather cording, welting, endless color options—it’s a strong material reference and the look is clean with a nice richness.





My process nearly always extends from a gut reaction—like a flash vision, blink reaction—then I work backwards to formulate, articulate, authenticate, manipulate into a Design that meets the standards, programming, functional needs and aesthetic desires for the task at hand. Historically, humans are my number one source of inspiration. People-watching, studying activities of clients, discussing functional needs with anyone who’s interested. I always pick up design notes from other humans as well as travel. Again, the Pandemic challenged my top two sources of Inspiration.

Drew McGukin SF Low Res for Web-15


I talk a lot about voice with my team when it comes to process and inspiration. We’ll talk about honoring a voice, respecting a line or quality in something. For me, this speaks to depth and intention, resonance and, ultimately, value. Now, it could be my voice, the client’s voice, a historical voice, or a maker’s voice—and all are valid and important. Sometimes, it’s the combination of voices where you find the perfect harmony and narrative. So, when you are focused on voice, there’s an inherent listening that is required. The listening bit is where folks get tripped up—too much talking and not enough listening drowns out voices and beats down the natural part of the inspiration.




"I love a
ribbed velvet"



"I’ve been attracted to all kinds of cork fabrics for different kinds of uses for a bit now"



"Artistic, painterly patterns always grab me"





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Cara Gibbs

Cara is a freelance design and lifestyle writer, editor, and stylist residing in Manhattan. Formerly the principal style editor at Luxe Interiors + Design, she now is a regular contributor to Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Wallpaper, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. She is also the co-founder of the artisan marketplace, In The Pursuit, a platform that marries content with commerce through a lifestyle lens.

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