Design Icon: Oliver M. Furth Design & Decoration


Like an artist wielding paintbrushes and pigment to capture a vision, interior designer Oliver Furth, principal of Oliver M. Furth Design & Decoration, mixes the antique and the modern, the established and the emerging, to create spaces that, grounded in classical principles and overlaid with historical references, are bold, invigorating, playful and unmistakably fresh. “A lot of my work is about creating a narrative,” he explains. “I may use things from different eras but the composition elevates it so it doesn’t feel random.”

Interior designer Oliver Furth in the living room of his Canyon home. Photo by Roger Davies.

It’s no surprise that Furth’s had an obsession with interiors since childhood. “Since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by houses and design and construction,” he shares. His passion reaches beyond the merely decorative: “I’m consumed with the idea of home, of this place where people create a life.” He started working while he was still in high school, organizing the sample library for interior designer Judy Wilder Briskin and running errands for architect Marc Appleton. “I was excited to be among adults who were doing what I wanted to be doing.”

In a client’s home, a resin console table by Faye Toogood is surrounded by a Vintage Butaque chair from Clara Porset and Chandigarh stools by Pierre Jeanneret and is topped by a Travertine vase from Collection Particuliere. Photo by Roger Davies.
In the living room of a home in Beverly Hills whose walls are covered in a Phillip Jeffries grasscloth, a cozy custom sofa by Oliver M. Furth Design & Decoration hugs a set of six coffee tables by Peter Hvidt found on 1stDibs. Photo by Roger Davies.

He pursued a degree in architecture, but soon realized its rigidity didn’t suit him. “I didn’t want to spend my time being the fifth in line to draw HVAC venting layouts,” he shares. A job with Martyn Lawrence Bullard suggested an alternative. Confirmed by a stint at Christie’s, working in their Twentieth Century decorative arts department, he pivoted to interior design. “What’s amazing to me is that I’m having fun, doing what I dreamed of doing as a kid,” he marvels. “I don’t know of another profession where you’re dealing with so many things and continuously learning.”

The dining room in a Mount Washington abode is anchored with a table by Eero Saarinen and surrounded by vintage rosewood and paper dining chairs by J.L. Moller. The vintage opalescent glass pendant light is from ReWire. Photo by Roger Davies.

While Furth’s knowledge—of design, architecture, art and history, especially as it pertains to his native L.A.—is, in and of itself, astounding, it’s the creativity with which he employs it that demonstrates his mastery of his craft. “So much of decorating is problem solving, so you can often find a solution from a precedent,” he says. He’s not above breaking the rules. “Of course sometimes it’s doing the opposite of what’s been done before that works,” he laughs.

In a reception space that Furth created for the Greystone Mansion Design Showcase House, a custom sound- absorbing ceiling installation by Arktura and stainless-steel flooring by Chelsea Oliver Studio form a backdrop to a bronze coffee table by Stefan Bishop. Photo by Stephen Busken.

He views the responsibilities of creating a home with a gravitas that borders on the profound. “Inherent in the idea of interior design for me is the belief that this space will be the springboard to a happier life,” he explains. Thus he encourages his clients’ participation in the process. “I rely on it,” he confesses. He also embraces the involvement of the artists, makers and craftspeople whose work he incorporates into his projects. “I have a unique opportunity to discover and integrate things that are not just beautiful but also meaningful and unique, giving these creators a platform for their work,” he acknowledges. “Though first and foremost, of course, it needs to be functional.”

In the sitting room of Furth’s home, walls and upholstery are in document-printed linen reissued by Sister Parish that also covers a chair by Ron Arad. The ceramic coffee table is by Sean Gerstley and the mixed-media sculpture is by Leena Similu. Photo by Yoshihiro Makino.
OP! Optimistic Interiors, Furth’s first monograph, will be released by Rizzoli this spring.

It also means that each project is unique. “I’m always pushing people to do something they haven’t done before. That’s what tickles me,” he says. His new book, out this month from Rizzoli, is aptly titled OP! Optimistic Interiors. “Design is a conversation, it’s ideas coming together and the energy that creates,” Furth says. To experience a Furth interior is to understand that hope—for the future, for a better life, for a brighter day—does, indeed, spring eternal. Optimistic interiors? For sure.

In a Hollywood Hills home, Furth paired a console he commissioned by artist Peter Shire with vintage Carlo Mollino chairs discovered at JF Chen. The Frank Stella lithographs were purchased at Gemini G.E.L. The custom hand-painted wallpaper is from Porter Teleo.
Photo by Roger Davies.

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