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Behind the Walls of Kelly Wearstler's Ultramodern Design Studio

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Images by Allen Zaki

Kelly Wearstler grew up in South Carolina and studied architecture and interior design at the Massachusetts College of Art. After graduating, she moved to LA to start her company, which is more than just fashion and interior design (she describes it as "a whole way of living"). The extraordinarily successful Kelly Wearstler brand encompasses everything from furniture, interior and wallpaper to fashion, jewelry and fabrics. At the pace she is going, anything could be next.

A mother of two boys, ages 9 and 10, Wearstler is a pro at switching from one area of expertise to another, or what she calls "exercising my brain." In fact, when she finally decided to move into ready-to-wear, she was also designing the interiors of not one but two Miami hotels and another in Anguilla. "It was like learning a new language," she said of the venture. "Like starting from ground zero."

We visited the designer's 6000-square-foot studio—located just a short distance from her flagship boutique—where she gave us the grand tour and a little preview of what's next in the World of Kelly.

Why did you decide to move to LA?
"I went to school in Boston and NY and after being in New York, I wanted to be in a place outside where it's warm. So, really the environment.

Does the LA aesthetic inspire your designs?
"Oh yeah. I love vintage and I love things that are older and have more soul and are spirited, there's just so much of that here. And all of the mid-century architecture, and sculpture, and artists, just everything."

How did you make the transition from interiors to ready-to-wear?
"I have a lot of friends in the fashion business and they really pushed me for probably six years, 'You need to do fashion, you have such a DNA and you have a voice.' At that time I was doing three hotels and tons of interior projects and designing the furniture. Then, I just said, 'I'm gonna try it.'"

Why did you choose to have your design offices in West Hollywood?
"I had a little bungalow on Kings Road. My office was there and I was there for probably five years and then totally grew out of the space. We added on, because I loved it there, but just grew out of it and had to find something else. This is a Craig Ellwood building, he's an important modernist architect. This building was actually empty. I took this and Sally Hershberger ended up taking the space upstairs, so there's only two tenants in the building."

What inspires your RTW designs?
"Everything around me. We'll design a metal staircase and I'll go into my next meeting and it's jewelry and I'll say 'That metal staircase could be amazing for the chain that we're going to use in the fall collection.' Or taking a piece of jewelry and saying, 'Let's do this for door hardware on this project.' Then we'll do a beautiful texture or wash or print and that could translate into a carpet. It's just constant."

Describe your design process.
"It changes. Everything starts with an idea. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and I started thinking about something and then I thought, 'Oh that could actually be cool in this townhouse we're doing.' So, it just happens all the time. It could be anything from being in my library at home, which is filled with great books I've acquired over many years. Then, I take that thinking and do vibe boards and I'll put inspiration together and then sketch. I do a lot of sketching. You then keep meeting on it and it gets more refined and the idea gets a little more worked out.

What's next for Kelly Wearstler?
"Just giving so much love to the ready-to-wear and all the projects and it's going to grow. Everything has happened naturally and it's just going to keep evolving. It's getting better. The RTW gets stronger and stronger every season, so just keep chugging along."
· Kelly Wearstler [Official Site]
· My Vibe My Life [Blog]
· Kelly Wearstler LACMA Toast Spring and Rhapsody on Melrose [Racked]
· Ryan Holliman Finds Inspiration in the Moon, Ocean and Venice [Racked]

Kelly Wearstler Flagship

8440 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069 323-895-7880 Visit Website