The Aspire House McLean project began in 2018, when Bill Harrison, renowned architect and principal of Harrison Design, introduced aspire design and home CEO and Founder Steve Mandel to a developer he worked with called Artisan Builders. Mandel was immediately impressed, and planning began for a showhouse in this elegant suburb of Washington, D.C.
The residence, which adapts Palladian concepts of geometry, proportion and symmetry, is modern and light filled, with vast windows to flood the space with sunlight. In order to make sure the interior design matched the caliber of the architecture, Mandel invited Mary Douglas Drysdale to be the design chair. Drysdale explains, “A talented group of designers and creatives from the Mid-Atlantic region displayed their skills to create a home that is a modern classic mix, referring to the architectural traditions of our region and to the lifestyle that people aspire to today.”
In our recently released aspire design and home Showhouse Issue, we sat down with George Hemphill and Lenore Winters to learn more about their creative process in designing the Gallery space for this project.
aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
George Hemphill and Lenore Winters: Usually, there is never enough time and always mad rush to finish before opening. Due to the unexpected delay in opening the Aspire House Mclean, we had the gift of extra time. Extra creative time, extra time from concept through installation. It was a very gratifying process.
aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a Eureka moment during the process?
George and Lenore: In designing the Gallery area, our primary challenge was to provide the best possible background to showcase the artworks that were to be displayed. Having that challenge as our primary focus, the design was carefully edited to respect and enhance the visitors experience of each individual artwork. We did actually have two last-minute ‘Eureka’ moments, the first, to print oversized insects on the drapery panels and the second, to install a brilliant blue taxidermy Eurasian Roller Bird above the door.
aspire: What was your inspiration for this room?
George and Lenore: Luckily for us the Gallery has beautifully detailed panel moldings, this detailing became a natural frame for art. On the main panels where art hangs, we chose a painted decorative finish in a subtle linen weave technique. It acts as a neutral textured background, the few furniture pieces were chosen for their sculptural forms and accented with jewel-toned fabrics that are reflected in the artworks. This touch of color acts to move the eye around the gallery and to return to the art.
aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
George and Lenore: Yes! This was our first design collaboration. We individually manage our two separate businesses, so we enjoyed the chance to bring both businesses and staff together to work on this creative project.
aspire: Despite the fact that there were so many designers involved, there is an inherent cohesiveness to the home. Did you all converse/collaborate? Or was this a completely individual process?
George and Lenore: That the house had a cohesiveness is a credit to the vision Mary Drysdale had. She did an excellent job ‘curating’ the house through the whole process.
aspire: Is your preference for a showhouse a small space or a large space? Does one or the other provide a better opportunity to stretch your creativity?
George and Lenore: Both. Both are creatively challenging.
Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House McLean designers.
Photography by Ron Blunt.
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