A conversation with Andrea May

Andrea May Interiors,, La Jolla, CA

Photos: Andrea May Hunter/Gatherer, Bauman Photographers

(1) What is your design philosophy?

I was a writer for 15 years, so I approach a design project as if I'm writing a story. Every detail matters in the telling of this story. It needs to have a distinct voice and a well-defined vocabulary. Editing is key. I want it to be engaging, entertaining, authentic, unpretentious and timeless. My philosophy, I suppose, is not to fill up a space with a lot of stuff, but to really consider the quality, detailing and individual statement of each item so that it enhances the narrative.

(2) What is something people may not know about your firm?

We're passionate about Slow Design. Slow Design is to the home what Slow Food was to the plate. It's about mindfully choosing heirloom quality, hand crafted goods and antique, vintage and "upcycled" pieces with a smaller carbon footprint and a bigger heart and soul. It's inheritable design as opposed to disposable, mass-produced design.

(3) What is your favorite part of a home to design and why?

I would have to say the kitchen, because this is the not just the "heart" of the home; it's the life force. It's where my clients start their days with their families every morning and where they gather with friends in the evening. A lot of living happens here and a great kitchen can foster and reflect that. You can't keep people out of a fantastic, convivial kitchen.

(4) Three design resources you can't live without?

1. I'm always energized and inspired and come away with treasures at flea markets, estate sales, antique, vintage and second-hand stores.

2. I consider travel an indispensable resource. Whenever I travel, I come back with a suitcase or carton full of terrific objects and a head full of new ideas.

3. Companies like the Urban Electric Company and the local craftsmen and custom workrooms that provide beautifully detailed, handcrafted products are vital to of my work and I learn so much from them.

(5) Best design tips you have learned from experience?

1. Well, probably the best design tip I have learned is that it is better to scale down the scope of a project and get better quality than to try to do too much and skimp on quality. "Cheap is cheap," as Helen says in Midnight in Paris.

2. Also, as a native Texan, I would have to say that another great tip I embrace is, "Go big or go home." Generally speaking, when it comes to art, mirrors, chandeliers, ottomans and rugs, bigger usually is better. I hate to see a sofa hanging on to the edge of a rug for dear life or a lonely little painting swimming on a wall of nothingness.

(6) What do you collect?

At times, I'm afraid I might wind up on the next episode of Hoarders, but since you asked, here's a partial list: vintage pagoda chandeliers, Pol Bury engravings, books, vintage bar glasses, mid-century French champagne buckets, vintage brass Virginia Metalcrafters leaves, Italian gilt tables and lamps, Japanese woodcuts, original vintage French textile designs, antique French nature posters, brass owls, fish, birds and other assorted animals and faux bamboo trays. I'm like a magpie, attracted to shiny objects. Is it okay to mention that I will be launching a retail section on my web site soon?

(7) What are your favorite paint colors to use?

My go-to neutrals are Farrow and Ball's Lamproom Gray, Pavilion Gray and Clunch. Recently, I went to a color workshop and saw a mock-up of the new Benjamin Moore Color Stories deck. These are full-spectrum paints using anywhere from five to seven pigments and no black or grey tints. The complexity of these colors is spectacular. I wanted to lick Elderberry Wine CSP-470, it looked so juicy—but I held back. (It is zero-VOC paint, though!)

(8) What are your favorite design books?

I'm a fan of all the classics, like Billy Baldwin Decorates and The House in Good Taste by Elsie de Wolf. I just picked up Katie Ridder's Rooms, which is full of great details, pattern and color. And Bryan Batt's new book, Big, Easy Style makes me smile—and ultimately, isn't that what design should do?

(9) What UECo light do you like to use the most and why?

I'm torn. I'd like to use both the Campion Hanging and the Orpheus, but I haven't had the opportunity yet. Soon, I hope! I'm equally enchanted with each of these fixtures. The fixture I have used the most, however, is the Altamont Wall Large. It's such a chic, simple, versatile fixture that I tend to think of it as my lighting L.B.D.

(10) Your six picks of favorite UECo lights?

Only six?


1. Campion Elegant, graceful and timeless.
2. Parallel I love this sleek fixture in heirloom silver (my favorite finish); it's like a gorgeous piece of classic modern jewelry.
3. Orpheus Where do I start? This fixture has one foot in the past with fantastic beading above its lyre-shaped base, but a modern curved glass shade and a metal mesh inlay to keep it firmly planted in the present.
4. Gwenwood Love this fixture in a clean white painted finish for a little modern pop.
5. Garrison Fantastic scale and the etched glass shade is beautiful.
6. Savvy Graphic and wonderful in every finish (have sampled several), but my favorite is unlacquered brass with heirloom silver reflector.


The Gingerbread Man


A conversation with Patricia Gaye Tapp

P. Gaye Tapp Interior Design and little augury, , Raleigh, NC

1. What UECo light do you like to use the most and why?

Urban Smokebell. It's a perfect balance of modern and period design- a real design chameleon.

2. What is your design philosophy?

I like to find inspiration in the past and adapt it to today's needs and avoid trends like the plague!

3. What do you collect?

My collecting is erratic. I see something endearing and add it to the house-sometimes it fits into a collection, sometimes not. The collection is not as important as bringing things into the house that I love. I have collected textiles consistently for many years. Whether a scrap of some old silk rescued from an upholsterer's scrap heap or an 18th century French lampas; I gravitate to fabrics of every kind. One of my favorite finds is an Indian coat from Chessy Rayner's personal collection and my luckiest find was a stack of Chanel Italian wools from the 1950's.

4. What are your favorite paint colors to use?

Honestly-the project dictates the choices I make for paint. I vow to return to this one or that, but inevitably I don't. The paints of Farrow and Ball are lovely-but for me impractical, I can't order again and again for trying paint color possibilities. I want them accessible and easily tweaked. My personal favorites are smoky, 'undefinable' colors. I used a color from Duron called Drifting Spirits for a room in my house. I could have it in every room and it would evoke something unique to each space. It is completely enigmatic.

5. What is your favorite part of a home to design and why?

The places where family gather. Some call it the den or the family room, others, the living room, but whatever one calls it, it is a place where the family could huddle together when the power goes out. This room was such an important part of my home growing up. We spent family time in the den, but the formal living room was used for very informal family gatherings as well.

6. What are your favorite design books?

It's impossible to be objective about my books! There are so many favorites, but a few I will mention: Billy Baldwin Decorates, Rooms by Carl Skoggard and Derry Moore, Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler both by Martin Wood and Roomscapes The Decorative Architecture of Renzo Mongiardino. For the most sound advice on interior design I've read Edith Wharton & Ogden Codman's The Decoration of Houses. This fall I've added The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture of Studio Peregalli to the list.

7. Three design resources you can't live without?

I really could not work without a good showroom and its representatives. Living in a small town, I continue to rely on showrooms like Ainsworth Noah, Grizzel and Mann and others in Atlanta to find what I need instantly. I find blogs full of resources and inspiration and many times the inspiration is the more valuable! Charlotte Moss's website is full of inspiration and the design firm of Nicky Haslam writes a blog that is an endless source of inspiration. Lastly, I am always considering important rooms from the past that relate to current projects. Historic Rooms and houses hold a wealth of inspiration.

8. What is something people many not know about your firm?

People are likely to be introduced to my firm for the first time with this interview! The firm is ME. After leaving a design firm many years ago, I have been my longest, best and most loyal employee. Other than a terrific assistant for several years, I've stayed small with "intention."

9. Best design tips you have learned from experience?

For me creating a vocabulary for each project is essential. Some to add to every project's list are: Timeless and Individual.

10. Your six picks of favorite UECo lights?


• Obviously Urban Smokebell is one.
• The Campion Hanging light is a close second as my favorite. Again, it's a wonderful balance of modern and period design.
Shaw is ideal for hanging in a nearby room to Campion.
Morris Ribbon- I instantly want to start singing "I'm putting on my white tie- brushing off my tails."
The Balfour sconce is so sleek in all white.
• Finally I must add Punch in my six picks; it makes me smile!


A Conversation with Tim Campbell


1. What is your design philosophy?

While my design philosophy is rooted in a modernist, minimalist genre, I love beautiful things that help to create a narrative about the spaces we create for our clients. The tension between what is needed and what is desired, and how that plays out visually and otherwise, in a space is what I like about the work we do most. So in some ways my design philosophy is torn between designing what is needed for a space to be beautiful and at the same time filling it with disparate objects that when viewed as a collective, create a narrative that speaks to my clients lives.

2. What is your ideal client relationship?

One of collaboration and respect.

3. Who is your design inspiration?

First off, my client- we get to work with very interesting, accomplished people and their stories are always fascinating to me. From there I love the work of Andree Putman, Tadao Ando and Axel Vervordt.

4. What do you collect?

Contemporary Political and Social art and artifacts from my travels.

5. Favorite place you return or visit for your design inspiration.

Africa. My husband and I go every year and it renews me in a way like no other place. We have been to Northern Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa and to me there is a quality of knowingness about the place that is comforting.

6. What is something people may not know about your firm?

I think many people are surprised to find out that we are only five people. We turn out a lot of work on a wide variety of project types but we are very much a boutique operation.

7. Your five picks of favorite UECo lights.


Gwenwood Hang
Antique Rectangle


A conversation with Martha Angus

MARTHA ANGUS,, San Francisco, CA

Who is your design inspiration?

Alexandre Biaggi in Paris

What is something people may not know about your firm?

We have designers who come from a fresh point of view: from a fine artist to an architectural historian to an ex-teacher, we even have a former manager of rock bands.

Best design tips you have learned from experience:

Never judge a paint color by a small chip. Do a big test and study it day and night. Interiors look best as an envelope of color: keep the drapery, walls, and carpet similar, then, add an accent of color. Don't allow yourself to be swept away by the latest fads, rather learn what is timeless and interesting.

What are your favorite colors to use?

Farrow & Ball's "Arsenic" and Charlotte's Locks

What is your ideal design philosophy?

Timeless, serene, and clean spaces accented with color and blasts of graphic art.

What are your favorite design books?

All David Hicks books

What do you collect?

Contemporary Art

What are the three design resources you can't live without?

Urban Electric Co., Soane in London, March in San Francisco.

What is your favorite part of a home to design and why?

The art collection as it brings personality to the space.

How have you incorporated our lights into one of your installations?

We've recently incorporated UECo sconces into an Atherton, CA powder room. (*Shown in picture provided.)

What is your favorite UECo light and why?

Venetian v2 I'm crazy about the Venetian V2 with its vibrant two-tone colors inside.

Your six picks of favorite UECo lights.


Dorothy It reminds me of the pendants that hung in the old Metropolitan restaurant.
King's Road
Morris Ribbon We just installed this in a chic closet.
Sagaponack We are putting this in a new home in Napa very soon.
Lyford Wall