Reading By Design: Kerry Joyce | The Intangible


Los Angeles-based interior designer Kerry Joyce will release his first book this November. Entitled Kerry Joyce | The Intangible, it speaks to that indescribable quality in the award-winning designer’s work that elevates the spaces he creates well beyond the merely beautiful into the realm of the absolutely breathtaking, radiating those qualities of tranquility, balance and wellbeing we associate with the word “home”.  That same ethos threads through his furniture, wallpaper, rug, lighting and textile collections. Illustrating the book are eight homes that encompass a wide range of styles, from modern to traditional, urban to rustic, restorations to contemporary. Despite the obvious design differences, they all share that elusive quality that has kept Joyce in the pages of the leading shelter magazines throughout his career. It’s perhaps not so surprising to discover that, in his previous career as a set designer for theatre and television, he won an Emmy; his cinematic eye understands room design as more than just a pretty arrangement of objects and furniture but as a key to understanding a space’s inhabitants. 

We sat down with Joyce to ask him questions about his work:

I understand you took an unusual path to becoming a designer. Can you share a little bit about that?

It definitely has been a circuitous path.  When I was young I was sure I was going to be an actor; I’d acted in 60 different plays by the age of 18. I went to college to study acting initially, but I segued to train as a theatre director and then transitioned ultimately to scenery design for the theatre. I found out pretty quickly that I excelled at design and loved it, and that became the path I took.

Really by accident, I went to Hollywood after I finished school and I ended up working in television, designing variety shows as well as awards shows such as the Golden Globes. But television and set design weren’t sustaining for me in the end, so I eventually started a store that sourced and sold architectural products to restore period homes and create new ones. People loved the design of my store, and soon approached me to design their homes. Among my very first projects, I was so enormously lucky to not only design the interiors, but also, to design the complete house from the ground up.  And that set me on this different path that I’ve been traveling ever since.

I have now been working in Interior Design and designing homes for nearly twenty-five years. During that period, I have added furniture, lighting, and rug collections; and 8 years ago, I started my own textile company for beautiful fabrics for the home.  I have never had a direct plan and consider myself extremely fortunate in how my career has unfolded. 

What’s the biggest different in designing for the theatre and television and designing a home? 

My quiet sense of theatricality affects all of my work—but I never want the homes I design to feel like a set. When you first enter one of my rooms, there’s a first view that I often visualize as if it were the initial view of a stage set or the establishing shot in a movie, where everything is composed and balanced to feel at rest.   But my vision only comes to life and when it is inhabited by the perfect finishing touch, my client. 

The one word that comes to mind when I look at your interiors is tranquil. What’s the secret to achieving that? Is it color, furniture placement? 

I have a mantra of 8 parts of my process of interior design. I address all of these elements with each project I do, in the project’s own unique way:

  1. Creating a Backstory
  2. Composition | Balance
  3. Good Bones  | Architecture
  4. Garden Views
  5. Light
  6. Color | Texture
  7. Final Touches
  8. Tranquility

If I pay attention to all these components and do them right, a feeling of tranquility prevails, a feeling of rightness and harmony. That’s what I mean when I talk about the Intangible.  

You’ve designed in a wide range of styles, from traditional to modern. In fact, the book seems to span them all. Do you have a favorite? 

I am a modernist at heart and although it might not be obvious, this modernist thread permeates my work. Even in traditional genres I’m looking for a sense of authentic, yet warm spareness that will allow each detail to be refined and elegant, even exquisitely simple, purely sculptural. This is as true for the furniture and other home furnishings that I design as houses. I am blessed with wonderful clients who have often challenged me with their idea for their dream home in a style or period that I have never done before. I am excited to take their vision and make it mine in a way that hopefully makes it even better than they could imagine. 

What’s your dream project?

I have not built a home for myself from the ground up, but when I do, I imagine a Bauhaus cube of concrete with massive windows, reclaimed warm wood floors, patinaed bronze hardware, and a location on a dead-end street by a tranquil secluded lake. 

Pre-order the book now here. For more insight into Kerry Joyce and his work, click here



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