Designer Friday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Kevin Isbell

Clean and colorful is how Kevin Isbell describes his design style. He believes in creating a space that is authentic to his client and strives to bring them on a magical adventure. “Think of Renzo Mongiardino and his ability to transport people into a fantastical world which was all his own.” This type of passion has led Isbell to become the Rising Star of Interior Design 2010 by the International Furnishings and Design Association and has been featured in many publications including The New York Times and Architectural Digest. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, Kevin Isbell.

Featured in this gorgeous dining room are rock crystals in the chandelier and light blue grasscloth along the walls, bringing the room texture and depth. Photographed by David A. Land.

Andrew Joseph: If you could guest star on any TV show -on or off air- what show would you guest star in?
Kevin Isbell: I’d love to be featured in an episode of Schitt’s Creek. I think Moira Rose and I would be fast friends. Just don’t ask me to join the Jazzagals

Andrew: If you could live in any home in a movie or television series, what would it be?
Kevin: I would happily move into the Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan which was featured in the movie I Am Love. Built in 1935 by the architect Piero Portaluppi, it continues to feel fresh and modern 85 years later. And the oasis-like setting in the center of the city is the cherry on top.

Deep blue walls and wicker light fixtures are featured throughout this home, located on Sullivan’s Island. “The installation is the most challenging, and yet rewarding part of this process” says Isbell. Photographed by Julia Lynn Photography.

Andrew: What’s the best thing that happened to you this month?
Kevin: I was honored to be part of the 2020 Kips Bay Showhouse in Palm Beach. Being asked to participate is the design equivalent of being nominated for an Oscar. Now in its 45th year, only 200 designers have been asked to participate.

Andrew: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Kevin: I’m married to an Italian, so the only acceptable answer is red wine.

Andrew: What are three words to describe where you live?
Kevin: Charming, sunny, perfection.

This design was created for a family’s vacation home in Sea Island, Georgia. The soft colors chosen create a sense of welcoming, which every entryway should have. Photographed by David A. Land.

Andrew: What’s your design pet peeve?
Kevin: I love a grand statement as much as the next designer, but it needs to be functional.

Andrew: What are you most proud of?
Kevin: That I built a successful design business in the middle of the Great Recession. While having your own firm is exciting, it takes a lot of work to remain relevant in the changing landscape of design.

Many of the furniture pieces in this Greenwich home were custom made, including the sofa which is covered in a custom colored Bennison fabric. Photographed by Peter Margonelli.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Kevin: Detailed, optimistic, and timeless.

Andrew: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Kevin: Rethink that platinum blonde Flock of Seagulls hairstyle in the 80’s. Little did I know that I would only be graced with hair for a short period in life.

About The Designer | A decade after launching his eponymous New York City-based interior design business, Kevin Isbell has departed for Los Angeles, where he and his firm currently reside. Despite his new California roots, Isbell maintains a clientele between both coasts and retains his signature East Coast aesthetic, which is clean, layered and highly nuanced. His design point-of-view is firmly rooted in contemporary living, paying homage to the past with a modern twist that lends a fresh new perspective to each of his projects.

Fueled by his love of travel, Isbell artfully merges his clients’ personal artifacts with his own inspiration, derived from worldly periods and cultures. The result: an emotive space with design elements that are at once elegant, timeless and utterly livable.

Named Rising Star of Interior Design by the International Furnishings and Design Association, Isbell and his firm’s work has earned praise from leading publications such as The New York Times, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Coastal Living as well as Susanna Salk’s book published by Rizzoli, Be Your Own Decorator: Taking Inspiration and Cues from Today’s Top Designers.

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

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