|Text by: Kristy Woodson Harvey |
Designer Ken Gemes might be most renowned as a show-stopping New York designer,
but his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia will always carry a special place in his heart. Not only is it where he met his
wife Boo, but it’s also the place that he says most influenced his chic, streamlined aesthetic.
|Gemes’ style is “a blend of Southern comfort with New York sophistication that creates classic contemporary homes,” a look that he says is a nod to his Southern heritage and a place where interiors and the way people live and entertain are prized. “There’s an art to having people in your house,” Gemes says. And each of his homes is designed with an eye on being able to entertain and still maintain that overall aesthetic. |
One of the essential factors in creating a home that entertains well is how it flows. And, for Gemes, that flow doesn’t only involve interiors. “I’m big on outdoors integrating with the indoors,” Gemes says. Whether the design is for a Hamptons client who is spending only two to three months outdoors, or a Southern family that spends nine months a year on the porch, those spaces are crucial to the overall design scheme.
And one of Gemes’ favorite ways create cohesion within a home is with textiles. His former life in fashion, where he traveled the globe picking fabrics and shopping Europe for colors and trends, greatly influenced his love for fabrics as a designer. “I spent a lot of time developing prints,” he said. And now, whether he’s choosing furniture, rugs or fixtures, “it all relates back to some sort of textile.”
Those years traveling the globe also led Gemes to develop a line of British Colonial furniture, which he then helped people incorporate into their homes. The line was “way too specific for an entire house,” and that’s where Gemes’ keen eye for color, pattern and mixing the old with the new came in.
After gaining experience helping people like Chris and Tory Burch integrate his British Colonial furniture into their décor, Gemes realized that he had found his calling. From there, “it just became a lot easier to focus on the interiors” and design with pieces from other suppliers.
In his transition from fashion to interiors, inspiring designers were never in short supply. Gemes greatly admires “the yin and yang” of Paris Hadley. And Victoria Hagen’s uncluttered aesthetic has always topped his list. “Everything she does I find to be so understated,” Gemes said. “Nothing is overdone.”
And “overdone” is something that can be tricky to avoid – especially when a client has a number of treasured items that he or she wants to incorporate into a space. But Gemes learned long ago how to tame a love of accessories. “People in the South are such collectors,” Gemes says. “But they do it tastefully.”
Even though the designer’s style is more edited, the homes of his family and friends were influential in shaping his taste. “Art has a lot to do with the way homes look,” Gemes says. Family photographs or a series of prints, like those in his childhood home, are features that he implements into his designs today.
In fact, Gemes says, “Everything about my style started from life in the South.”
While the New York designer and his wife are happy in their home of Bronxville, years later, both of Gemes’ daughters have returned to the place his style started for college. From his stunning aesthetic to his first interaction with his wife to now, his girls, we think it’s safe to say that, though he may be up North, a part of Ken Gemes’ heart will always be down South.
For more photos and information on Ken Gemes visit Design Chic.