Cecilie Starin Interview

Interior designer CECILIE STARIN is an artist with a great eye for comfortable luxury. Cecilie’s design projects are always carefully considered, brilliantly executed and deep with meaning. The depth that Cecilie brings to her work is due to years of study and travel. Cecilie trained as a fine art painter, studied graphic design and illustration and interior design before starting her career as a fashion designer for Levi Strauss, Smith & Hawken, and The Lee Company.

For 20 years, Cecilie traveled to the world’s most fashionable cities—London, Paris, Milan, Florence, Rome and exotic locales in the Far East. She led a team of designers in creating iconic apparel and identified emerging trends, so it’s no surprise to discover elements of fashion detail in Cecilie’s interior design projects. In fact, Cecilie’s global meets modern design style has been featured in Traditional Home, Paper City, Luxe, and Elle Decor Dining by Design.

Cecilie also participates in designer showcases in San Francisco where her design firm, Cecilie Starin Interior Design is based. I recently posted the master bedroom on Zavvi Rodaine, but I also loved the Ivory Tower shown below. From illustration to completion, Cecilie created a gorgeous room in a small passageway leading to a nursery. The Ivory Tower design was a celebration of travel, love of knowledge and nature, and a space for contemplation.

Cecilie is a new design discovery, so I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed for Zavvi Rodaine. I’m certain you will enjoy getting to know Cecilie as much as I have and develop a new design crush as well.

How do you define your style?
Classic with a modern twist. I like to mix periods and different cultures, natural with industrial, and primitive with refined.

You studied fine arts in college, so tell us how that lead to a career in interior design?
I attended UC Davis and studied with California mid-century notables like Wayne Thiebaud, Bob Arneson, Roy de Forest and William Wiley. I wanted more classical training, so I attended Art Center College of Design, which is now in Pasadena, for another four years studying graphics and illustration and fashion illustration. I had always been interested in fashion and I got into that industry through illustration and eventually worked for many years as a fashion designer. The move to interiors was a natural one since I had so much knowledge of design and fabrics.

Which artists inspire you and who do you collect?
That is a very broad question with lots of answers! I love mid-century California artists Diebenkorn, DeKooning, Elmer Bishoff, Thiebaud, Frank Lobdell. Early California Plein Air artists, Maynard Dixon, Arthur Mathews, Gottard Piazzoni, Xavier Martinez, and E. Charlton Fortune. Masters like Matisse, John Singer Sargent, Vermeer, and Ingres. Orientalist Jean Leon Gerome. I love landscapes and portraits. Fine drawing is also of particular interest to me. Having trained at the Art Center with many who went on to work for Disney, I have a great appreciation for draftsman. I am fascinated with American graffiti artists turned Neo-Expressionist. I love to collect flea market finds of paintings and drawings as well.

Are you influenced or inspired by a particular design period?
I love French Louis XV mixed with mid-century. Egyptian, Syrian and Chinese.

Name a woman in design that has most influenced your interior aesthetic.
Bunny Williams.

Understanding how much travel you did for work, do you like to travel now? If so, which cities are the most inspirational to you?
Love it! Istanbul and Paris are two of my favorites.

How has technology changed your interior design business?
It has made things much more efficient and easily viewable, saving lots of time. CAD can really help clients see things and it makes changes fast.

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with in design?
I collaborate with my suppliers and other designers with everything that I purchase.

Describe your personal sanctuary.
I am so fortunate to have purchased my home in Tiburon 22 years ago. It has a 180 degree water view to Sausalito and the city (San Francisco). My garden is Mediterranean-style with lots of roses, lavender, wisteria, and lemons. I love sitting on my deck with friends and mojitos!

My other sanctuary is in the California central valley in the country, just outside of Davis where I went to university. My husband grew up in this 1933 farmhouse which is surrounded by sunflowers, watermelon, and tomato fields. My husband’s family boards horses and there are always a few cows. We go there every weekend! It needs a lot of attention and we are fixing up the house and the gardens. I am especially excited about the potential for the two acre garden.

One word…

What is your advice for young women?
Follow your passion and listen to the voice inside you.

Asked to write your memoirs, what would the title be?
It’s a Beautiful Life…finding beauty in the everyday.

Interviewed September 2010 by Yolanda, editor Zavvi Rodaine.com
© Zavvi Rodaine.com 2010. No part of this interview may be used or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the Editor of Zavvi Rodaine.com.
Photos: Margot Hartford/David Duncan Livingston

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