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An Elegant Statue Inspires Federica Asack’s Unusual Vestibule

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 Federica Asack to learn more about their creative process in designing an extraordinary vestibule for this project.

Vestibule by Federica AsackInside the Showhouse with Federica Asack

aspire design and home: How much time did you have to complete this room, start to finish?
Federica Asack: Nine months.

aspire: What was your biggest challenge? Did you have a “Eureka!” moment during the process? 
Federica: The small size and the location were challenging. The vestibule’s a five by seven-foot space with three openings! 

aspire: What did you and your team accomplish that you thought would not happen in time? 
Federica: Despite all the challenges that this year threw at us, the Aspire House team and the designers—plus their trade professionals—were able to make the showhouse happen while following all safety guidelines.

Seeking Inspiration and Finding Cohesiveness

aspire: What was your inspiration for this room? 
Federica: I wanted to establish a sense of intimacy and elegance. The French plaster statue of a woman laying at rest was my muse. The beauty of her vulnerable pose transcends the space with an overall sense of classicism.

aspire: Did you step out of your comfort zone for this project, and if so, why?
Federica: For this project, I chose to use all of my favorite things: antiques, Indian block print, chinoiserie, brass, original art, ceramics from Puglia, and my sense of humor. During the design process I questioned myself as if it was going to be a bit much. The answer was “yes,” but I did it anyway.

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?
Federica: There wasn’t a deliberate strategic design collaboration.  However, when you bring together talented designers, the key tenets of good taste and quality furnishings are guaranteed to weave a common thread.

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?
Federica: I believe any space has the potential for great design!

aspire: Describe the town of McLean in one sentence. 
Federica: One of the most desirable zip codes in the Northern Virginia area, home of the Kennedy’s Hickory Hill Estate (The Aspire House McLean is less than a mile away from it!), past and present leading political figures, and just 15 minutes away from DC. 

“This or That?” with Federica Asack

aspire: Paint or wallpaper?
Federica: Both!
aspire: Hardwood or rug?
Federica: Both!
aspire: Beach or Mountains?
Federica: Beach.
aspire: Saturated color or black and white?
Federica: Both!
aspire: Brunch or Dinner?
Federica: Dinner.
aspire: Midcentury or 18th Century?
Federica: 18th century.
aspire: Draperies, shades, or nothing?
Federica: All of the above.
aspire: 2001: A Space Odyssey or The English Patient?
Federica: The English Patient.
aspire: Week at the spa or week of Broadway shows?
Federica: Broadway shows.

Want More Good Design?

Click Here to view more interviews with our Aspire House McLean designers.

Photography by Ron Blunt.

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aspire design and home is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, aspire creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, aspire explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. aspire design and home is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.