First/Person: Peti Lau

Cara Gibbs

02 July 2021

GameChangerPETI LAU

Known for her trademarked style as a global, romantic and eclectic designer, self-proclaimed AristoFreak™ (and TV personality) Peti Lau continues to take the world of interiors by storm with each boldly layered and whimsical home she designs for her famous clients. Here, the worldly it girl shares her winding road from opera singer to professional interior designer, casting architecture as the main character when possible, and the power of wallpaper from floor to ceiling.


My journey as a designer has not been your typical story. I was training to be an opera singer when I was a teenager and later realized that being a classical musician just wasn’t for me. In an effort to find my passion, I decided to travel the world in search of my calling. I ended up living as an expat on a tropical island in the gulf of Thailand. While in paradise, I discovered my passion for interior design. From starting a clothing line to owning a restaurant and cocktail bar, I garnered a reputation for style and substance by creating experiences. Before I knew it, I was getting approached to design restaurants and boutique resorts. In many ways I feel like interior design found me while I was searching for myself! After seven years of tropical island living, I decided I needed a change of scenery and I returned back to the states, moved to New York City and attended the New York School of Interior Design. Ultimately, the appeal to the profession came down to one question, Would I still want to do this when I’m 80? My response was an immediate “Yes! I can do this until I’m old and gray because I will always be learning and entertaining”. I’m so proud to be a part of an industry that is enriching and supportive. We can have a positive impact on people’s lives through teaching people how to live beautifully.



At the moment, I’m really into geometric shapes paired with organic materials. I think that the juxtaposition it creates is what makes design interesting and unexpected. I LOVE wallpaper because it creates such a fantastic base to a room. Whether it’s a textured wallpaper or a super bold pattern, it’s a great way to transform a room. I turn to wallpaper in small spaces quite often, completely enveloping the space from walls to ceiling. I love using bold patterns in small spaces and using textural patterns and natural fibers in larger, more expansive spaces such as a living rooms or big bedroom suites. When it comes to trimmings, I gravitate toward using more modern leather cords and fringes. I love ethnic patterns for tapes or extra wide tapes for a leading edge on a drapery window treatment to create that extra oomph.





My source of inspiration comes from three distinct areas: design and art books, travel, and film. My process of getting there starts with seeing something that sparks an idea. Could be something as fun as a vintage car or a hotel that my clients love and have fond memories of staying at. It’s the excitement of another point of view and perspective that inspires me. Though the medium may vary, I’m usually struck by an image—the image creates a vibe, and the vibe creates an emotional story. From there I start thinking about the color palettes and the textures of how I can translate the vibe I’ve conjured to the start telling the story of the space I’m designing. The mood when creating new products and projects is always starting ripe with a story. The main character is often the architecture of the space and how that translates to what the client wants to create within those parameters.



Diving deeper, I like to think that I re-define boldness, elevating romance and Boheme—activating the free-spiritedness which lives inside all of us. It’s that mix of culture, color, pattern, history and global style that tells a story. This is what I believe is the AristoFreak™ Style. A hopeful and lasting effect that happened during the pandemic was the filming of an HGTV show I was a part of, Design Star Next Generation. That experience taught me so much! My biggest takeaway was that I design in real life and designing on the show was geared toward designing for the camera. I hope the lasting effect is that it inspires people to go out and be fearless and have fun with their design choices!








"For the wallpaper I love the Harlem Toile. It tells such a story!"



"I love S. Harris Trims. There are so many global inspired patterns and materials."



"I want my clients to be able to use the spaces in a way that nothing is too fragile and everything is rich in color and texture. The S. Harris Performance fabrics do that!"





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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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