“How do you come up with these cool custom designs?”
This is a question that we get all the time as we are designing more and more custom items for our clients. With that in mind, I thought I’d write a bit about the process of designing something special, from start to finish.
Designing furniture and accessories can be one of the most fantastic and satisfying experiences for an interior designer. You start with a creative vision and then work through all the details to see it come to life. When Margery Wedderburn Interiors (MWI) designed the Living Room for the DC Design House in 2017 in Potomac, Maryland, I wanted to create something in one of the corners that felt lyrical and fluid while still feeling textural. I went to the Niermann Weeks furniture factory in Millersville, Maryland, and they generously assisted in fabricating this vision.
I started by drawing sketches and really thinking through exactly what this incredible screen should look like. Because it was custom, I could consider the scale and proportion of how it would fit into the corner in this huge Living Room that I designed. I then discussed it in great detail with the Niermanns, and we brainstormed just how this vision would become reality.
Once the screen was finalized on paper, we needed to start the finish details for the screen and then for the leaves as well. The screen base needed to be interesting with many tones of gold and gesso. See the image above for the final faux finish, which includes many layers of paint and gold.
Working with Eleanor and Claire Niermann of Niermann Weeks was such a treat as they have this incredibly vast knowledge of furniture-making, the history of furniture design and super high-end style and finishes. I soaked up all the information I could while there with them creating this vision. We created these leaf patterns which were made of very thin malleable metal so that we could bend them any way we wanted to get this complete movement in the leaves.
I can’t even begin to tell you how rewarding this custom piece was to design. Creating this absolute flow of the leaves and ensuring that there were enough leaves and that they were placed in exactly the right spot took hours. I stood on a ladder for much of that time to get a bird’s eye view of what this piece would look like when complete.
One of the challenges of adding these leaves was that they had to be nailed in one-by-one, which was labor-intensive for the NW team, but also it meant that we needed to ensure that each leaf covered part of another leaf so that the nails would not show.
And then the final reveal was actually at the DC Design House where this screen “Held Court” in the Living Room for the entire month that the showhouse was open.
We’ll have some more custom “Work In Progress” articles in the weeks to come.
Until then, stay inspired!