interior designinterviews

design on a dime interviews: nathan thomas

by Grace Bonney

today i’m continuing with a series of short 10-question interviews i’m conducting with some of the designers participating in this year’s housing works‘ “design on a dime” event. on monday we’ll be hosting a little thrift-shop inspired contest and giving away VIP tickets to the event, so stay tuned for that next week! until then, i wanted to share an interview with designer nathan thomas.

if you’re a tv nut like me, you’ll probably remember nathan as the winner of bravo tv’s top design season 2. nathan created a series of beautiful rooms on the show, incorporating his love of everyday materials and surroundings. after working as a senior designer at NathanEgan interiors, nathan went on to open his own design practice, nathan thomas studios. today nathan is going to share some of his design tips, favorite affordable shopping spots, and stories about his favorite projects- i hope you’ll enjoy his interview. thanks to nathan for taking the time to chat with me!

CLICK HERE for the full interview after the jump!

[images above: nathan’s work on top design, and his magazine feature in elle decor]

1. How would you describe your personal style?

This is always a difficult question to answer for me – I feel like my style is always evolving in new directions and changing. I like to think for the better. I take cues from many around me – in fashion, design, music, and architecture. I think living in NYC exposes one to an abundance of fantastic attitudes, and style. At the end of the day, I think I am sort of a melting pot of various styles.

2. What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on during your career?

My tenure in New York has been varied. I started out as a make-up artist here in Manhattan while working towards obtaining my degree. Through those experiences I have to say that working on the As Four (when they were still four) show during Fashion Week was an enlightening experience. At that time they were sort of the dolls of the Fashion World, known for their edgy designs and creativity as a collective. Will always be memorable. As far as interior projects – all of them have been interesting to some degree and entertaining. DELUXE Salon in Brooklyn was a lot of fun for me as it was a chance to involve local artists and commission original work from them for the wall mural installations. In fact, the mural was recently revised by Aaron Johnson who I have always been a fan of for his sort of biomorphic, nightmarish sort of paintings. Currently I am working on my second collection of rug designs with SACCO and having a gay ol’ time working that out. This collection has more color, contrast, and shape than my first. Stay tuned…..

[image above: nathan’s design for deluxe salon in brooklyn]

3. Moving on to new projects, how did you become involved with Design on a Dime?

Funny you should ask – when I was still with my much beloved previous firm NathanEgan Interiors, I had the opportunity to work on the Design on a Dime events with Wayne Nathan and Carol Egan when DOD had its kick-off year. So I do have some experience with the event. After leaving the firm and launching my own, I was contacted by the foundation’s president Richard Vorisek to get involved with Housing Works and their causes. Housing Works is such a important foundation in the cause to raise money, create jobs, provide housing and education for men , women, and children living with HIV and or AIDS. When I was asked by Richard to be a part of DOD I jumped at the chance.

4. Is there a theme or goal with your display at this year’s Design on a Dime? If so, how did you decide on that theme?

Of course there is a theme! I wouldn’t know how to move forward without….. My original concept was to create a room/vignette based on vertigos with black and white. I had the whole “look” complete in my head until……. I saw Kelis’ new video for Acapella. You could call my new concept a psychadelic wonderland in the jungle with a nod to Alice in Wonderland. Very fantasy.

[image above: nathan’s room design for DWR]

5. What was the biggest challenge you had in decorating your display for DOD?

Sticking to a theme/concept. I think designers are constantly thinking, rethinking, and second guessing their work looking for something better or different to make it their own and truly add their stamp to the project or design.

6. What are your tips for readers looking to decorate their homes on a dime?

Try to find a few more dimes first of all, secondly, look for good style in the ornate and easily attainable. Good design is accessible and out there. It doesn’t have to be what is published, or expected. Personal style and attention to quality can make any space look good.

7. What are some of your favorite affordable (or unexpected) design resources?

The easiest answer is to say flea markets, thrift stores and the like but I am truly inspired by a trip to a hardware store or supply houses. Its amazing to me all of the various items that are truly “designed” for the end user but if you look beyond their defined use and can see the other possibilities, you can come up with some very clever solutions. I suggest a trip to Home Depot to all those reading. You will be pleasantly surprised.

[images above: residential interiors designed by nathan]

8. When did you realize that you wanted to be a designer?

For me it was obvious at a very young age. I found myself enamored of home products and the like. At a young age Architectural Digest was the best publication. Ha! I knew that fashion, and design would be a part of my life and a career in that direction was the only option.

9. Has your style changed over the years? If so, how and why do you think it’s changed? If not, how to you keep things fresh at home while maintaining the same style?

Oops! I think I jumped the gun and answered this in the first question….(see above)

10. Are there any designers, trends, or ideas you’re hoping/excited to see at this year’s DOD? Everything! DOD is a wonderful opportunity for designers to have 100% fun.

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