Designer Friday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Julian Buckner

Julian Buckner took the reins of Vesta in 2018 and completely transformed the company into a national powerhouse. Not only does Vesta offer sophisticated luxury interior design services, they also provide clients with furniture rentals, professional home staging and a newly launched custom furniture line for direct purchase. Quintupling Vesta’s revenue and having the opportunities to design $15 billion in luxury homes, you can see their designs throughout the country. They have also been featured in Architectural Digest, Forbes and now ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, Julian Buckner, CEO of Vesta.

Vesta offers staging services to those who are seeking an illusion! They focus on turning an empty space into works of art that are intended to sell your property faster. Not only have they worked on over 2,000 projects but have sold over $10 billion in residential real estate.

Andrew Joseph: What was your first job?
Julian Buckner: Snow shoveling. I grew up outside of Boston, and whenever we got a snowstorm, my best friend Mike and I would go door-to-door offering our services around the neighborhood. Mornings were always the most profitable – when people were desperate to get their cars shoveled to get to work, so we would wake up at the crack of dawn and go out before school. Come to think of it, it was probably my first experience with supply and demand. On snow days or weekends, we’d sometimes stay out shoveling past sunset. It was exhausting work, but there is something tremendously gratifying about being outside all day, working with your hands and seeing the tangible result of that effort. There is a feeling of having truly earned what we were paid. Thinking back on it, I think those winter days were probably quite formative for me.

In this luxurious dining area, you can spot some of Vesta’s custom-made furnishings such as the Maximilian chairs. They are named after the latin word ‘maximilian’ which means “greatness” and are inspired by midcentury modern design.

Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Julian: Despite a mainstream shift in consumer expectations towards convenience and value the traditional model of interior design has remained unchanged for 100 years. It is largely inaccessible and no longer adequately meets the needs of today’s consumer.

Gone are the days of 12-18 month design projects. People either want to purchase designs inspired by television and social media (which is why we recently launched Vesta Collections). Or, they want to work with a professional, who brings a creative vision and execution for their project. Either way, people want high quality, and they want it fast.

The future is more hybrid design firms like ours. One-stop-shops that offer custom furniture design, scalable manufacturing and a great retail experience. Vesta’s vision for the future is one where design, procurement, and rental are all under one roof. In the future a consumer can hire the same design firm they follow on Pinterest to rent furniture from, while custom designing their brand new home.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
Julian: Building a great team at Vesta to lead the industry into the future and deliver a world-class brand. In the early days of a start-up, every minute is a fight for survival. Even though we’re still young, we’ve reached an inflection point as a firm that has allowed us to really start focusing on our legacy in the industry. For us, that is through people and design. We are investing in our people and creating a destination where the very best young talent in the industry can thrive and develop into the next generation of great interior designers. As leaders in design, we are doing more significant and creative work than anyone – whether it be in the beautiful interiors and custom furniture we are making or the innovations in technology and supply chain that allow us to continue improving the quality and price of our offerings. I am inspired by what I believe will be the lasting impact we have in the space.

Pictured above is a living area curated by Vesta. One of the unique things about this room is the fact that they provide rental furniture under their TurnKey Stay Program, which you can completely buy if you fall in love with a certain piece of furniture.

Andrew: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Julian: I would be able to instantly read and retain information. I saw in a documentary that Bill Gates can read 150 pages per hour with 90% retention – I was so jealous. I carve out time in my schedule every day to read and learn something new – whether it’s something trending in design, or completely unrelated. But to be able to do that at superhero caliber would be amazing.

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Julian: The dream project is of course the White House. But outside of that, we are currently working on a pretty amazing one right now. We are doing the interior design for what will be the largest, most expensive home in the country located in Bel Air. The sheer scale of the canvas is unprecedented and has allowed us the creative opportunity to experiment with some really unique design elements and really show how Vesta can transform space.

About The Designer | Formerly a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, Julian has transformed Vesta – launching new markets (Florida, Northern California and New York), new business lines (interior design, e-commerce) while growing topline revenue by 500%. As the fastest growing design firm in the country, Vesta has completed over 3,000 luxury residential and commercial projects (worth over $15 billion), many of which have been honored with features in The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, Netflix, Bravo, and CNBC. Additionally, Vesta’s sought-after designs and custom furniture have been featured in high-profile celebrity homes like Steph and Ayesha Curry’s $31M Atherton compound, Travis Scott’s $23.5M Brentwood mansion, and LeBron James’ $23M LA mansion. For his accomplishments, Julian has been recognized as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and a semi-finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here.

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