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Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Mel Bean

Mel Bean applies a roving, artistic eye and a heart for making clients’ dreams come true to every interior project. Bean leads a powerful all-female team of skilled designers and specialists at her eponymous design firm, wedding a decades-long passion for creative design and lighting with a tailored approach for each client. Mel Bean Interiors’ colorful residential spaces demonstrate a personalized, optimistic attitude that the firm’s founder applies to her work as well as her life. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, Mel Bean.

Bean and her clients communicated extensively to produce the design of this Tulsa home, which pays homage to the city’s history of Art Deco architecture.

Bean and her clients communicated extensively to produce the design of this Tulsa home, which pays homage to the city’s history of Art Deco architecture.

Andrew Joseph: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
Mel Bean: A Pegasus. Does that count? Ever since I was a little girl, far too young to realize it was an unrealistic hope, I dreamed of having my own Pegasus. Horses are majestic. But a horse that can fly?! We would have had so many adventures! As an adult, I realize the ability to dream, and with such a visual mind, it is my greatest gift as a designer.

AJ: What is the last book you read?
MB: The last book I read was The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. As the granddaughter of Kansas farmers, I’ve heard references to The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression over the years, but this epic novel shed new light on the extreme hardships my ancestors faced, and I feel a renewed sense of pride. In a story in which each devastating challenge is followed by another, the power of resilience, particularly as a mother, brought me hope. It’s particularly relevant in these times of COVID and uncertainty. I feel so much gratitude!

AJ: If you had a superpower, what would it be?
MB: How funny. With 14-year-old twin boys, this is a topic we discuss often! In the world of superheroes, I always tell them I’d choose the powers of Storm from X Men! There is something intoxicating about controlling elements of nature…plus she can fly. Girl power! My choice of superpower would be the ability to cause deep compassion and empathy in others. It may be idealistic, but I believe so many of our world’s issues could be resolved with sincere compassion for others.

AJ: If you could guest star on any TV show -on or off air- what show would you guest star in?
MB: Schitt’s Creek! It’s one of the most joyful and fun shows I’ve seen in years! I bet it’s a blast to be on set with the hilarious and talented cast.

AJ: If you could live in any home in a movie or television series, what would it be?
MB: NOT Schitt’s Creek, ha! There are so many obvious choices…Cameron Diaz’s home in The Holiday, or Kate Winslet’s for that matter…but I would love to live in the ranch home from the 1961 Parent Trap film. Modern elements, connection with nature, and details timeless enough to be updated while preserving its character!

Bean incorporates elements of the Danish hygge concept – the idea of coziness as a living style – with lush neutrals and cool pops of color in this Tulsa, Oklahoma residence.

Bean incorporates elements of the Danish hygge concept – the idea of coziness as a living style – with lush neutrals and cool pops of color in this Tulsa, Oklahoma residence.

AJ: What are three words to describe where you live?
MB: Three words to describe home: History, Character, Fun!

Three words to describe Tulsa, Oklahoma: Iconic (Art deco architecture, Historic homes, Route 66, etc.), Welcoming, Creative.

AJ: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
MB: I have epilepsy. It is such a misunderstood condition, but quite common. Everyone should educate themselves on how to help if someone has a seizure and the Epilepsy Foundation is a great resource. I am one of the lucky ones, currently celebrating twenty years seizure-free! But I will be on medication and taking precautions for the rest of my life. I want to share my history to give hope to anyone navigating epilepsy: I’ve been able to do everything I’ve desired in life. I can drive. I’ve traveled. I own a business I love. I have healthy twin boys. I’ve even used my light sensitivity to my advantage – lighting design is an area I’m passionate about and known for among my clients. My awareness of glare from direct lighting, or the strobing effects of a gridded light design is now sort of a design superpower.

AJ: What’s something you always travel with?
MB: I’m obsessed with my Away “Bigger Carry On” suitcase and “Everywhere Bag.” It’s so well-designed that it fits far more than you’d think, so I’m able to travel without checking luggage. Otherwise, it’s a water bottle, my facial cleanser and moisturizer, and Le Labo Santal 33 perfume.

AJ: Do you get your eight hours a night? – What is your schedule like?
MB: I try to get a minimum of 8 hours a night. It’s particularly important as fatigue is one of my Epilepsy triggers. But with the boys’ sports requiring a 6:45am drop-off combined with years of my being a night owl, it’s not without effort and planning!

AJ: What are your beauty secrets?
MB: Moisturize. I’ve worn moisturizer with an SPF daily since I was thirteen and would prefer to follow it with only a touch of blush and lip color.

The sleekness of an Art Deco approach in this living room is offset by gentle, rounded accessories and a few bursts of anticipated tone.

The sleekness of an Art Deco approach in this living room is offset by gentle, rounded accessories and a few bursts of anticipated tone.

AJ: Style (or design) icon?
MB: There are so many designers I admire it’s difficult to choose just one! So here are three: Nam Dang-Mitchell, Steven Gambrel, and Ruard Veltman.

AJ: What are three things without which you can’t live?
MB: My morning latte, moisturizer, and I wish it weren’t so…my iPhone.

AJ: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
MB: My inspiration for interior design comes from a combination of nature, my client’s history, and travel.

AJ: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
MB: Skip the Psych/Pre-Med start in college and go straight to interior design! And take more creative classes in high school; you don’t have to take only college prep math and science.

AJ: What do you find yourself daydreaming about most these days?
MB: Travel! It’s difficult to do these days, so I’m reliving my trip to Greece with my boys, and days of our favorite beach in St John, Virgin Islands.


About The Designer | Mel Bean is an interior designer and founder of Mel Bean Interiors, which she founded in 2018 after discovering her love of design at a young age. With 20+ years of experience, Mel is known for her keen eye for color and form, emphasis on lighting, and thoughtful choices throughout every project. Previous to founding her namesake firm, Mel co-founded Austin Bean Design Studio, where she worked for seven years alongside her friend and colleague, Bailey Austin Bird.

Led by Mel, Mel Bean Interiors’ projects range from large-scale custom homes and renovations to full home furnishing projects with little to no construction. Each project reflects Mel Bean Interior’s brand of meaningful and personal spaces mixing luxurious elements with fun, bold, and sophisticated design details.

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