Designer Crush Q&A: Christian May

Christian's designs are rich in vivid colors and happy patterns, and he credits his presence on various social platforms for a number of recent opportunities, including designing a bathroom for the California Home + Design Small Space Big Style Showhouse in 2012. This image is one you will find pinned and repinned around the internet ever since its strong black and white irregular stripes made a huge impact in a small space. Fearless design and effortless cool make Christian May a huge crush of ours. 

1. Where do you currently live in CA and what's special about how you've designed your
personal space?
I live in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, in a 1930s townhouse, decorated predominantly in inherited family pieces and vintage finds. It's sort of Auntie Mame goes totally '80s, and wouldn't work for anyone but me.

2. What's your dream design project? Who would it be for (dead or alive)?
A house designed by A. Quincy Jones in the '50s or '60s or a Paul Revere Williams from the 1930s or '40s. Both architects are distinctly different, yet quintessentially Southern Californian, so I'd love to design the interiors for anyone who respects that architectural history.

3. In real life, what's your favorite design project you've completed to date? 
My favorite project is actually the smallest space I've ever designed, a tiny, tiny, bathroom for the California Home + Design "Small Space, Big Style" showhouse in Hollywood. I had the smallest space in the house, and was working alongside talents like Molly Luetkmeyer, so I had to do something to make my bathroom really stand out. I designed a crazy custom black and white wallpaper with Tracy Hiner of Black Crow Studios. People either loved or hated the space, but they certainly remembered it!

4. You've been gifted a fabulously furnished dream home but can only bring one item from your current space. What would it be?
I could never live in a home furnished by someone else, so this is an impossible question to answer, but if I could only rescue one thing from my current home, it would be a pair of rosewood chests purchased in Hong Kong by my mom in the 1950s. The chests themselves are nothing special, but they remind me of my glamorous and chic mother, so they are something I'll never part with.

5. What's your creative process when designing a space? How do you begin? How do you share this process with your clients?
I always start with a floor plan showing furniture placement. It is the bible for the entire design process. Any style can be then applied, but if you get the sizes, proportions, and placement of furniture wrong, the room will always look bad. Always. I may not know exactly what will go in a particular space at the time of presentation since I like to shop for one-of-a-kind and vintage as well as allow for the unexpected, but the client can rest securely knowing that even a last minute surprise will work because I've already blocked it out on the plan.

6. Where do you score prized interior design items? Any shopping tips? 
1) For great vintage, I love to shop Palm Springs. So much goodness from the '70s and '80s it's ridiculous ('70s and '80s design is my spirit animal).
2) In Los Angeles, I love the shops of the La Cienega Design Quarter. I can source almost everything I need from the shops here: art, antiques, rugs, fabrics, even plumbing fixtures, it's all in the LCDQ.
3) I love a bargain and I love to junk shop, so the flea markets of Southern California can't be beat. Any given Sunday you will find me at the Rose Bowl, Long Beach or Pasadena City College flea market, but don't look for me during the early bird hours. I'm a vulture, swooping in at the last minute as vendors are packing up, looking for unsold bargains that they don't feel like lugging home.

7. Ever had an epic DIY disaster? What project would you never take on again yourself?
Way too many to count! Other than making art, which I love as a creative outlet, I now leave projects to the experts. It's far better to pay someone who knows what they are doing than waste my time by trying and failing miserably.

8. What new design trend are you excited to integrate into your next project?
I am most excited to incorporate one of my new line of pieced cow hides for 27 Ground, available through Woven Accents Inc., into my next project. They are both abstract and geometric – two strong design trends right now - and work fantastically in modern interiors, so I can't wait to begin using them.

9. Lightning round! 
Beach or mountains?
Desert. Oh wait...that wasn't an option, was it?

Twitter or Facebook?
Both, I'm a social media junkie.

Instagram or Pinterest?
See above.

Architectural Digest or Wallpaper?
AD. I've been reading it since I was a child.

Should you spend money on a fabulous bathroom or kitchen?
Kitchen. Even if you don't cook, a bad kitchen is a bummer.

Would you rather shop new or vintage?
Vintage, vintage, vintage.

Great view or perfect pool?
A beautiful pool IS a great view.

SF or LA?
LA. I'm a lifer.

10. What's one tip you wish someone had told you when first starting out in the design world?
Be born rich. It's super helpful.