First Person: Eileen Kathryn Boyd

Cara Gibbs

02 April 2021
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EILEEN KATHRYN BOYD

Interior designer Eileen Kathryn Boyd is known for her colorfully clad interiors that speak to haute couture, laced with fashion details throughout. But when it comes to her commercial work, she often casts texture and more subtle palettes as the main characters, opting for bold artwork and accents to satisfy her appetite for the unexpected. Here, the New York-based designer dishes on fashionable, but never fussy interiors, commercial design at its best and thoughtful spaces that talk back.

Image credits: Patrick Cline

UNDER CONTRACT

I come into each project with the eye of an artist. I like to transform spaces to become visually alive and ultimately evoke a sense of well-being. That approach extends well into my commercial projects. A natural extension of my residential work, contract projects often start with a clear direction and message that has to be conveyed along with a working business plan. It challenges me to still be creative but work within commercial guidelines, codes and permitting. I really enjoy collaborating with the diverse talents of the trades that commercial projects offer. Often the clients will take more risks, and the team that is assembled is very important to ensuring the success of those risks. Commercial design tends to move at a faster pace than residential, due to the systemized timelines set up. You see a beginning, a middle and an end.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Restaurants are one of my favorite spaces to design because it’s all about creating a fully immersive experience. I think the pandemic has shifted everyone to thinking about being in environments that they feel safe in. I bring to the table a strong residential background and that adds a lot of value to the project because I know how to make people feel good in a space. I can translate the feelings of residential materials and reimagine them in a large setting of a restaurant. The trick is to get the wow-factor upon entering the space and then keeping it throughout the dining experience, enticing the patrons to come back by layering in the attention to detail. I try to touch on all 5 of the human senses when people experience my design work. I believe that being a successful designer is about being a good listener and communicator. We all feel relevant when our design perspective is heard.

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CREATIVE SPARKS

It’s very exciting to be a part of a talented, creative team that works well together—a team that takes a spark of an idea on paper and works endlessly to see it come to fruition. I always say the best part of the project is the beginning when the ideas are just forming and starting to take life. It’s a very rewarding experience to see a commercial project through to its end. We always start by asking the client a lot of questions.  What is the brand? How do we convey that brand throughout the many platforms? We work as a team to create a clear vision of what they are looking to achieve. We set a timeline and budget for the project, create floor plans with the architect and come up with a set of drawings that we can start to get bids for. We can then start to suggest materials and finishes for all the spaces and guide the client to make the best decisions that fit the budget.

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NATURAL CURIOSITIES

One of my favorite pastimes is research and allowing myself to go down the rabbit hole of an idea on the internet or in a book and discovering new ideas while revisiting old ones. I love to learn and stay forever curious. When it comes to motif, I am attracted to simple, graphic patterns and bold colors. I like to design interiors with artwork and unique accessories. I find that the graphic, patterned textiles are a great foil to layer in artwork and other curiosities, making a space feel storied and interesting. We use lots of textured papers to add depth to a space—I often say that a wallcovering gives a room a hug and softens the walls in contrast to the trimmings and millwork. In addition, I often will select a highly figured, bold, graphic wallcovering to add that touch of theater to a room and take it from ordinary to extraordinary. Always fashionable, never fussy.

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"Perfect knubby neutral that has an oversized chunky weave. Can be applied on a large modern sofa or a chic tailored headboard."

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"I like the watercolor, artistic vibe that feels very spontaneous and modern. Perfect for drapery panels in a dining room or family room."

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"A great geometric that’s a classic boho pattern, I can see it on chairs and on a large ottoman in a room setting."

 

 

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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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