2022 Showcase Design Award: Michael Hilal


San Francisco-Based Michael Hilal hadn’t thought of himself as a show house kind of designer. “California modernism—especially organic California modernism—that style is typically not very conducive to many of the show homes,” he explains. “I haven’t really seen it done much.” But when fellow interior designer Chad Dorsey encouraged Hilal to apply to the 2021 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Dallas, he reconsidered. “It turned into: This is something I should do because I haven’t seen it.”

Hilal devised (Her) Study, adding the parentheses “to make sure the space felt inclusive and inviting for anybody,” he says, though allowing that there is “a subtle touch of femininity.” His design does not limit the narrow room’s use to work; in fact, there’s no desk. “I wanted it to be everything,” he elaborates— study, chill-out quarters, whatever the fictional client desired.

Hilal collaborated with Matt Harding on the Donald Judd-inspired floating bar and record player, composed of aluminum and blue acrylic, as well as the shelf above it. Photos by Lauren Andersen.

The earthy palette—evoking the American Southwest of the late 1970s and early 1980s—started with the drapery fabric. “I came across this celadon and was like, ‘This is the color,’” Hilal recalls. “It had the perfect tone, the perfect nuance.” The hue also appears on the walls, floor and sofa.

Meanwhile, the room’s arrangement was inspired by the circular flow of a gallery; Hilal views all of the furniture and accessories as art. Works by the likes of Pamela Jorden, Judy Chicago, Janet Delaney and Raymond Pettibon, curated by Allison Harding, grace the walls. And there’s a sculptural quality to the seating, including Faye Toogood’s Roly-Poly chair from March SF and the vintage Marzio Cecchi rope lounge chair from Sputnik Modern.

Michael Hilal created a space awash in celadon—including a sofa of his design, upholstered in a Zoffany velvet—and illuminated by a Samantha McCurdy light fixture. overhead. Photos by Lauren Andersen.

In a corner, a bistro table large enough to accommodate a laptop is joined by bleached and pickled red oak stools—one upholstered in a nude bouclé, the other a rust-colored mohair (both fabrics by Nobilis). “Texture and softness were very important,” says Hilal, noting that even the plush Abbey carpeting beckons the room’s occupants to sit, lie down and stay for a while.