“I’ve always been deeply unsettled by “the norm” and how uniformity is praised and idolized,” shares designer Miles Willis McDermott. “As a child, I sought to explore the unfamiliar and strange as objection to “fitting in”, often making my own clothes, painting my furniture and making insane changes to my bedroom.”
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that McDermott’s current abode is as offbeat as they come. Describing his personal style as being “if Gio Ponti retired in Spain after taking a five year sabbatical in Japan prior to attending the Bauhaus”, McDermott’s home thrives on contrast. Think vintage antiques juxtaposed against a background of monochrome Japanese manga-inspired graphics. Or embellished neoclassical gilt metalwork mismatched with clean-line modernism. Let’s take a closer look.
“The house is constantly changing … my Instagram has become a chronology of projects.” – McDermott
Design for Life
For McDermott, design permeates all aspects of his life. As the art direction and branding lead for an advertising agency in Arizona, it’s basically his job to understand style. But his love of design doesn’t stop there.
McDermott is a firm believer in the Bauhaus idea of Gesamtkunstwerk. “I’ve dedicated myself to learning every possible realm of design,” McDermott explains. Fashion, interior, furniture, photography, textiles – the list goes on. His home is a plant-filled ode to this philosophy.
Most, if not all, of the furnishings, for instance, are second-hand. Sourced for dirt cheap on Craigslist or at thrift stores, many of these pieces have been upcycled by McDermott to reflect his unique style.
The 18th century Swedish sun lounger is a particular standout. “I had it completely stripped to the bone and restored. Centuries of paint was stripped from its cast iron frame. I then re-wrapped the piece in my custom-designed and loomed upholstery,” describes McDermott. An adjustable gold angora mohair velvet bolster pillow and solid brass accents complete the luxe industrial look.
Elsewhere, McDermott has experimented with custom furnishings in the form of brass pendant lights designed to resemble exotic fruit. However, due to monetary restraints, the designer has been unable to implement all of his creative ideas.
“The major problem with my custom lighting, furniture and tapestry design is that I rarely can afford to have pieces produced. I’m currently sitting on 50+ designs that I can’t produce due to no funding. It’s especially painful when another designer releases a piece similar to something you thought of years earlier but couldn’t afford to produce.”
“I’ve always admired Verner Panton’s dedication to designing an immersive, transportive space. I wanted to operate in the same mindset when designing this home.” – McDermott
Aesthetic-wise, McDermott took inspiration from the home’s incredible light, unique divisions and architectural details. “I wanted to emulate a feeling of walking outdoors between villas of an esoteric verdant village in Spain or Italy, sprinkled with various artifacts brought by world travelers.”
Sharp monochrome patterns and contemporary super-graphics add a modern twist to the abundance of antique pieces. In McDermott’s words, it’s ‘as if this villa was designed and illustrated as the background of a Japanese manga’.
“I meticulously care for dozens of mature plants inside to give it that outdoor coastal/tropical vibe. The antique amber bottle-glass windows provide a magical golden glow when the sun sets, as if the home was oceanside.” – McDermott
At night, the house changes moods completely. Dimmer switches allow for an incandescent glow to descend upon the space. According to McDermott, “the house takes on a moody opium den appearance at night, fit for Dionysis himself.”
“If I had to coin my style, I’d call it Supergraphic Regency? Dichotomy Modern? Hollywood Neoclassical?” – McDermott
Whilst McDermott has gained traction in the home decor world for his meticulous restoration of a 60s apartment, the designer has in fact never been trained in interior design. “In the early stages of finding my style, I relied on emulating looks that I saw in books (mostly 60s decorator magazines) as a way to fail-safe my work. I eventually learned why things did or didn’t work through trial and error.”
In many ways, this home can be seen as a culmination of his trial and error ways – the end result of which defies conventional categorization, much like McDermott himself.
What do you think of Miles Willis McDermott’s home?
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