Designer Crush: Sawyers Design


With a vast background in branding and graphic design for corporate Interior and Architecture firms, Kevin Sawyers of Sawyers Design has a keen understanding of scale, color and understanding a client’s goals. Over two decades ago, he decided to combine his education in design and vast experience with industry clients and open his own interior design firm. Now, Sawyers and his team are making an impact throughout the Bay Area with their vibrant projects that demonstrate his passion. Here, he shares more about how he started and who inspires his work.

Designer Kevin Sawyers. Photos by  Michele Lee Willson.

How does your background in graphic design influence your approach to your interior design work? My previous experience designing and producing large commercial installations is evident in my residential work through a pleasant disparity in scale, an unexpected use of materials and finishes, as well as customization. In my work for commercial clients, branding was always central. I continue this practice by honing in on residential client “brands” or styles which we fold into the design concepts. 

Photos by  Michele Lee Willson.

How do you describe your style? Usually when describing my work, I use words such as warm, modern and eclectic, but ultimately, it’s about honoring the client and conveying their individualism through interiors.  Sawyers Design eclecticism can be contributed to my southern roots, my education in North Carolina, Finland and San Diego, as well as my work in graphics and branding in Atlanta, and Gensler for ten years, culminating in a couple of decades living in San Francisco.

Photos by  Michele Lee Willson.

Who are your professional role models? I love how every item within an Axel Vervoordt room stands alone as art unto itself. Whether antique or contemporary, everything is modern in its presentation. The scale of space, and furnishings within play against each other in a powerful, yet approachable way. I try to imbibe this feeling of space into my work, allowing a bit of air in, leaving room for the eye to rest. 

I walked into a Pierre Yovanovitch designed winery/hotel in the Douro Valley of Portugal and knew immediately it was his creation. The Quinta Da Corte is a slightly more at ease iteration of Yovanovitch’s work. In his usual style, nothing is extraneous; each unique piece speaks the same language as the next, creating a beautiful conversation. Likewise our goal is to make each piece within a room special while simultaneously threading design connectivity throughout the project.

Photos by  Michele Lee Willson.

What is your process for getting to know a client? I am immediately curious about how a client entertains, who they entertain and how they would like to entertain. You can learn heaps about a person by understanding their social interactions. To gather this information means relying on good old fashioned conversation. That sounds very dad-like, but conversations really are the best way to delve into the real information.

How would you like to see the Bay Area design landscape shift? Flippers be gone, or at the very least work with a designer for direction on space plans and material selections. Far too much waste happens when a home is flipped, purchased and the new home owners immediately ask a designer to rectify the situation. Starting from scratch is usually not an option at this point. Aside from waste there is also lost opportunity to create a unique spaceplane tailored to the client’s life instead of a mundane, cookie cutter solution.  We’re here to design so, let us do it. 

Photos by  Michele Lee Willson.

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