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Massimo Vignelli once said that “an architect should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city.” I’ve been drawn to this idea: That everything we create should have meaning and importance. Ideas of scale, proportion, elegance and form are as applicable to cities as they are to flatware.

Tell us about your background and current role as the Head of MAWD’s New York Studio.

Having initially earned my degree in Architecture, I went on to work for Robert A.M. Stern Architects, and later, Studio Sofield, where I worked on a broad range of projects, but found my niche in luxury retail and multi-family residential.

At MAWD, I oversee the interior design of complex projects across the country, including Thomas Heatherwick’s Lantern House, and Coterie New York, Hudson Yards.

I’ve always been interested in how architecture and design can create value for clients. The better the job you do, the more value you are creating for your client.”
Lantern House, a 2020 MAWD project.
Lantern House, a 2020 MAWD project.

How has your architectural background influenced your approach to interior design? 

Our team here at MAWD thinks like architects in the sense that we put tremendous time and energy into the front-end concept for our projects. This is our guiding force throughout the design process. The rigor on the front-end ultimately allows us to deliver results that are true to our brief, while also maintaining timelessness.

Because of our background, we have great respect for the architects we work with and want to build good, long-standing relationships with them. We pride ourselves on delivering thorough documentation—something the architects we work with appreciate.

My background and training instilled a sense of rigor that all design work should adhere to.”

What approach do you take when working within the worlds of architecture and design?

Massimo Vignelli once said that “an architect should be able to design everything from a spoon to a city.”

I’ve been drawn to this idea: That everything we create should have meaning and importance. Ideas of scale, proportion, elegance and form are as applicable to cities as they are to flatware.

At MAWD, we work on projects of tremendous scale and complexity, which rely on the input of large consulting teams and stakeholders across industry. We believe that the same care and attention to detail should be paid to both larger design choices and smaller, finishing details.

We put great care and attention into details that some might consider minutiae.”
Lella & Massimo Vignelli: Courtesy of Vignelli Associates.

Who are the figures that inspire your work most prominently?

I’m particularly drawn to the work of Philip Johnson, who designed striking interiors for highly complicated architectural projects (for which he was also responsible). Our team here at MAWD was fortunate enough to be involved in the refit of Johnson’s Glass Atrium, which connected I.M. Pei’s 1700 Broadway with Johnson’s own Wells Fargo tower in Denver.

Philip Johnson, Courtesy of Architectural Digest.

Philip Johnson’s Glass Atrium Denver, a 2022 MAWD project.

Within the span of your career, have you observed any evolution in the relationship between architecture and interior design? What has that evolution been? 

Interior Designers are being brought on board earlier in the design process, and now have a more active role in shaping the project’s programming, spatial sequences, entry configurations, and more.

Both clients and architects alike are seeing the value of our early involvement, and are embracing the trend.

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