Q&A: Tyler Dawson

Q&A: Tyler Dawson(The designer [above left] and a '70s-tinged vignette from a residential project in San Francisco. Photos by Tim Melideo and Drew Kelly)
Name: Tyler Dawson
Occupation: Interior designer, Tyler Dawson Design
Resides in: Venice, CA
Best known for: Warm, layered interiors that mix glamorous notes of regency with a collected bohemian vibe.
Working on: A Tastemaker Tag Sale this Saturday, July 26 with One Kings Lane

1. Antique or modern?
Pieces with a story add gravitas, and modern innovations are inspiring. It works out nicely when they get to share their experiences with each other. 

2. City or country?
I enjoy the sensory stimulus, cultural offerings, and conveniences of a city life but couldn’t sustain myself without regular, extended pilgrimages to nature.

3. Which colors do you use most?
I’m drawn to unusual, nuanced color combinations and appreciate a good balance of warm and cool tones.

4. Favorite materials or textures?
For me it’s more about the juxtaposition of materials and textures than any one in particular. But a little snakeskin never hurt anyone—except the snake. Metallic elements are another favorite.

5. What is your favorite interior design-related word?
Proportion. The relationship, scale, and prominence of the elements of an interior are so important to the impact of the overall aesthetic.

Q&A: Tyler Dawson
(A Schumacher wallpaper creates a graphic backdrop for a New Traditional take on a formal dining room in a San Francisco Victorian in Pacific Heights. Photo by Drew Kelly)
6. Does your current home look like the one you grew up in?
I didn’t grow up in just one home, but have always craved the familiarity of a place where you feel nurtured by the surroundings. That notion of home [makes its way into] my interiors through elements of many of the places that I associate with happy memories. For example, I love having flowers that attract hummingbirds because they were always buzzing outside my Granny and Grandpa’s house.

7. Does a room need a view?
A view is ideal for expansive thoughts and stimulating conversation, but a self-contained room lends itself to quiet contemplation and reflection.

8. Favorite designer or architect?
Much of my inspiration comes from nature—both the immediate physical geography of California and the blurred landscapes of my travels. I find the beauty and wildness of the living environment most creatively stimulating.

9. Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
I was sick last week and Scandal nursed me back to health in the best possible way. Excellent, easily digestible binge-watching.

10. What qualities do you most admire in a room?
Thoughtful seating options and great lighting help to make people feel comfortable and self-assured, which facilitates happy gatherings. And I’m always thrilled when people choose to surround themselves with great art.

Q&A: Tyler Dawson
(Hickory Chair armchairs upholstered in Pierre Frey tweed sit on an Oushak-style rug by Stark in a Pacific Heights living room.
Photo by Drew Kelly)
11. What is a forbidden word in your house?
"Alright" repeated ad nauseam. My husband does a Matthew McConaughey impression that drives me crazy. Bad impressions, in general, are frowned upon.

12. Design rule you love to break?
I don’t really believe in design rules. In fact, I’m not sure I actually know any.

13. What is your favorite room in the house and why?
Somewhere cozy and quiet, preferably with a fireplace and good natural light, where I can read and doodle the day away in peace.

14. What is your most treasured possession?
Can I say my dog, Happy? I’m not entirely comfortable calling her a possession, but I don’t think she’d mind. We belong to each other!

15. What do you wish you could do without and why?
Like most Angelenos I know, I have a complicated love/hate relationship with my car.

Q&A: Tyler Dawson
(A sophisticated take on a kids' room—with a welcome note of giraffe-fueled whimsy—in a San Francisco residence. Photo by Drew Kelly)
16. How does West Coast design differ from East Coast design? 
I think the West Coast tends to be more experimental, more lighthearted, and less attached to historical references than East Coast design. I love both, and think they compliment and balance each other so nicely.

17. What is your favorite thing about the West Coast—design-related or otherwise?
I am a fifth-generation native Californian, and have an admittedly California-centric view of the West Coast. I love the expanse and diversity, the embrace of new ideas, and the variety of landscapes—beaches, deserts, mountains, lakes, agriculture, etc. It’s a very dynamic place.

18. If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?
The Charles and Ray Eames House in Pacific Palisades sounds pretty ideal right about now. Close runners-up are Templeton Crocker’s Jean-Michel Frank-designed penthouse sunroom, Doris Duke’s Shangri-La, and [Elvis Presley's] Graceland.

19. On what movie set would you like to live?
I fell in love with the apartment where Sydney (played by Amy Adams) lived in American Hustle, and would happily move there for the yellow upholstered wall/headboard/bed linens combo alone. I’d take her wardrobe, too.

20. To which country would you move for the design?
I think France has a nice balance of art historical and forward-thinking design inspiration. I would also go for the cheese.

21. If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?
I’d like to come back as a novel. I love a good story.
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