Interior Design Stars Around the World You Need to Know

From Paris to Los Angeles, here’s who’s making waves

Design by Chet Callahan. Photo: Art Gray Photography

Design by Chet Callahan. Photo: Art Gray Photography

Interior design’s latest stars are putting their marks on the world, creating styles for a new generation that reveres the past but wants to remake it in its own image.

Here are some of the world’s most sought-after designers whose projects are shaking things up.

Champeau & Wilde’s designs are a marriage of classicism and contemporary. Photo: Francis Amiand

Champeau & Wilde’s designs are a marriage of classicism and contemporary. Photo: Francis Amiand

Laurent Champeau and Kelli Wilde of Champeau & Wilde
Paris

“We like to call our signature style ‘understated chic,’” said Laurent Champeau.

“But what defines our style most,” added Kelli Wilde, “is probably ‘modern classic.’”

The duo, who opened their Paris studio Champeau & Wilde in 2011, met when they worked for the Parisian-based design firm Tino Zervudachi and were doing projects all over the world.

Ms. Wilde, who has a background in art history, started her career in interior design after working in Parisian art galleries, and Mr. Champeau abandoned his medical studies and embraced interior design and furniture design after spending an afternoon gazing at the embellishments of the Palace of Versailles.

Photo: champeau-wilde.com

Their understated chic/modern classic style was established in their first commission, a Paris apartment where they paired a contemporary art collection with a traditional environment.

“Most of the apartment had been redone because it was in very bad shape,” Mr. Champeau said. “We decided to mix the elements by keeping one very classical room—the living room—and work all the spaces around it in a much more contemporary architectural style.”

They used furniture and fabrics to connect the contemporary and classical areas, creating what Ms. Wilde called a “sophisticated yet livable space where our clients can have amazing parties but also have much more formal dinners.”

Mr. Champeau, who is 42, and Ms. Wilde, who is 54, have a variety of projects in the works, including an apartment in Paris whose ballroom has a 26-foot-high ceiling and a 1930s house in Nevada that needs a complete renovation inside and out.

This year, they are opening a furniture and art gallery in Paris that will feature antiques and furniture they design in collaboration with artists.

Photo: champeau-wilde.com

Photo: champeau-wilde.com

For a luxury apartment in Shanghai, Charu Elicyon created a space in a contemporary British style. Photo: Elicyon

For a luxury apartment in Shanghai, Charu Elicyon created a space in a contemporary British style. Photo: Elicyon

Photo: Elicyon

Michael J Lee Photography

Charu Gandhi of Elicyon
London

Charu Gandhi, the founder and director of the award-winning architecture and interior design firm Elicyon, sees design as a form of storytelling, and in her view, “the pursuit of beauty is a story in itself.”

The plots of her stories are always informed by the location, the surroundings, the history and the heritage of the space. “It can be hard to define our style,” she said, “but I would say it is quite bold, characterful, playful and stylized.”

Her 6-year-old firm has worked on a variety of residential commissions in London as well as in the Middle East, Shanghai, Los Angeles, New York City and the South of France.

Ms. Gandhi, an architect and interior designer, draws much of her inspiration from the diverse mix of designers and architects at her London studio as well as from the craftsmen and artisans she and her team work with.

Michael J Lee Photography

“Understanding how something is put together, the  process it undertakes, the precision of the craftsmanship, lights a creative fire for me,” she said.

For a client in Shanghai who commissioned a contemporary British style for his luxury apartment, Elicyon worked with a team of British and European artisans and suppliers. The sophisticated color palette—dove grays and pale blues contrasted with black, high-gloss lacquered veneers—speaks with a British accent. 

Ms. Gandhi, who is 40, became interested in architecture as a child in India when she made frequent visits to the construction site of the new home her parents were having built. She joined the London offices of the architectural firm Allies and Morrison in 2006 and worked as an interior designer for Candy & Candy starting in 2011.

“For me, it’s always been about creating spaces where time and place stand still and to capture that moment,” Ms. Gandhi said.

For an ice cream shop in Vancouver, Canada, Sahra Samnani created a simple, elegant design. Photo: Ema Peter

For an ice cream shop in Vancouver, Canada, Sahra Samnani created a simple, elegant design. Photo: Ema Peter

Sahra Samnani of How To Be
Vancouver/Victoria, Canada

Clean, long lines, simple details and quiet moments that play with light. These are the hallmarks of Sahra Samnani’s signature style, which she has christened “comfortable minimalism.”

“It’s a form of minimalism that’s not too severe or uninviting,” she said. “To me, minimalism is a soft expression of life, it’s a gentle look at what is important and what is not. I am fascinated by the idea of removing all the excess. I think a simple line and clean, white walls are so beautiful and quiet. In a world where we have so much, what a wonderful thing it is to pull away from that and focus upon simplicity, quietness and softness.”

Ms. Samnani, who opened her Canadian studio in 2015, draws much of her inspiration from the “silence and reverence” of British architectural designer John Pawson and his use of “long, meaningful lines and the beautiful poetic use of lighting.”

Photo: Alyssa Dawson

In her residential and commercial projects, Ms. Samnani, who is 30, endeavors to “bring a sense of old-world romance—nooks for candles, filtered light through textured glass and imperfect plaster walls.”

For an ice cream shop in Vancouver, for instance, she used what she called “simple gestures”—wooden slats, LED light strips and clean quartz—to achieve an elegant design.

Ms. Samnani, who primarily works in Vancouver, was a winner of the 2018 Fantini Design Awards and in 2019 was nominated for West Living Magazine’s Robert Ledingham Memorial Award for Emerging Interior Designers.

Photo: Alyssa Dawson

Photo: Alyssa Dawson

Dani Arps used coffee tables and couches to put a residential spin on the Daily Harvest offices. Photo: Aaron Thompson

Dani Arps used coffee tables and couches to put a residential spin on the Daily Harvest offices. Photo: Aaron Thompson

Photo: Aaron Thompson

Photo: Aaron Thompson

Dani Arps of Dani Arps
New York City

Specializing in startups, Dani Arps creates comfortable yet productive spaces that seamlessly blur the lines between residential and commercial.

Ms. Arps, who has designed “resimmercial” spaces for the organic frozen-food purveyor Daily Harvest, the mobile ticket platform SeatGeek and the tech-teaching online school Codecademy, always includes what she calls “a unique feature” in each project.

For Daily Harvest, for instance, she created a smoothie bar, complete with a marble countertop, velvet seats and domed ceiling. “Smoothies are one of the company’s products,” she said. “The bar, which replaces a formal reception area, feels like a café. They can offer guests a drink and hold events there.”

Photo: Aaron Thompson

And at SeatGeek, Ms. Arps created a main café that feels like a restaurant. “It has a beverage bar and kitchen, and because the company sells tickets for events, I included 60 feet of stadium seating with cushions,” she said.

Ms. Arps’s style, which she describes as “minimalist with an industrial touch,” employs a natural color palette. “There’s nothing flamboyant,” she said.

Ms. Arps, who is 35, opened her design firm in New York City in 2014, earned a master’s degree in interior design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In 2017, she was declared a “Star on the Rise” by the Decoration and Design Building, and in 2019, she was named one of House Beautiful’s Next Wave Designers.

Her line of “resimmercial” furniture, for the New York City store Industry West, includes two styles of bar stools, a coffee table and a dining table that doubles as a conference table. It will debut this year.

For a 1934 residence in Los Feliz, architect Chet Callahan juxtaposed contemporary pieces with the historical details. Photo: Art Gray Photography

For a 1934 residence in Los Feliz, architect Chet Callahan juxtaposed contemporary pieces with the historical details. Photo: Art Gray Photography

Chet Callahan of Chet Callahan Architecture
Los Angeles

Blending historical precedents with progressive ideals, architect Chet Callahan imbues spaces with what he calls “romantic functionalism.”

“We create form through careful consideration of the natural, the built environment and the future uses of the site,” he said. “We aim to create environmentally sensitive buildings and enhance our clients’ and our community’s experience.”

A case in point is Mr. Callahan’s renovation of a 1934 Spanish-style home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles to fit the needs of its new owners—a young family of four.

Photo: Chet Callahan Architecture

He preserved the historical architectural details of the house, including the plaster cove moldings, the wooden floors and the wrought-iron embellishments. And he made it one with the landscape by adding large picture windows to, as he said, “bring green leafy views” inside.

He treated the interior spaces as a blank slate, painting the walls art-gallery white to accommodate the family’s colorful contemporary art collection and added sleek yet comfortable furnishings.

The living room, for instance, features a faux-beamed ceiling with plaster corbels that is illuminated by a glittering crystal chandelier reminiscent of a full moon. The furnishings, which include a plum-colored tufted sofa in velvet, speak of the past, while the spare white bookshelves, where volumes are arranged by the color of their covers, bring the room into the present tense.

“The new interventions,” he said, “have been rendered with minimal ornamentation as a juxtaposition to the existing features of the home, the client’s vibrant art and the surrounding garden.”

Before opening his eponymous firm in 2017, Mr. Callahan, who is 39, worked for Marmol Radziner + Associates, XTEN Architecture and AGPS.

His firm has worked on a variety of projects, including a multi-generational compound in Culver City; an artists’ complex in North Hollywood; and the re-envisioning of Los Feliz’s oldest estate.

A two-time winner of Interior Design magazine’s Best of Year (2007 and 2014), Mr. Callahan, became interested in design at a young age.

“I used to watch my dad build furniture—and just about everything else,” he said. “And I went antiques shopping with my mom.”

Photo: Chet Callahan Architecture

Photo: Chet Callahan Architecture