As many people know, I started my design firm in LA and quickly expanded to NYC when I began living bicoastally. I love having clients and offices on both sides of the country — it affords me the excuse to travel, to visit friends and family, and to work on very, very different projects.
Sure, there are plenty of similarities between the interior style of the two cities. Being major metropolitan areas, the bar is generally set pretty high when it comes to the level of taste and quality. In both cities, clients will generally spend a little more if they know they’re getting something of better value. And both cities tend to be on the edge of various trends in the design world — however more often than not, they’re interested in different design trends.
The Los Angeles design style tends to be a bit more casual, lighter, brighter and more laidback. There is a very comfortable, easy feel to the typical “California Modern” style that many of my SoCal clients tend towards. White-washed woods, thick textured white and beige materials, pops of ocean-inspired colors, smooth pale stones and marbles: All of these design elements combine to create an easygoing, pseudo-bohemian, still sophisticated style. Los Angeles is my haven when it comes to my own love of neutrals.
In NYC, clients want a style that’s more edgy, more moody and more dramatic. I find that this clientele is drawn to colors and finishes that stand in stark contrast to each other: black and white tile mixes, cold steel paired with warm wood, darker paint colors to inspire some serious ambiance. There’s something about living in a city like New York that gives people a casual attitude when it comes to edgy design and the striking juxtaposition of certain tones, materials and textures. New York style feeds into my total obsession with moody color palettes and metallic accents.
Additionally, I find that there’s a difference between the personalities of my clients in Los Angeles and NYC.
Manhattan is a city of “get what you want, right when you want it” — New Yorkers rely on grocery delivery and laundry services, along with a wealth of other on-demand apps (including coffee to your door in a manner of minutes — swoon!) that help them free up a little bit of time in their busy schedules. Every person in New York is rushing off to something, somewhere, and there’s rarely any “time to kill.”
My NYC clients come at design projects in a very similar way, and there’s very little wiggle-room when it comes to schedules and lead-times. I often have to make it work when faced with a construction hold up or a furniture shipping delay — and somehow we always manage to find a way, thanks to the help of my amazing team.
In Los Angeles, I’ve come to realize that there’s a bit of truth to that stereotypical surfer attitude that everyone presumes of people on the left coast . . . but only to a certain extent. Los Angeles is also a big city, full of people relying on a schedule, but people are willing to accept that some things take more time than others. Why else would so many people put up with killer commutes on Los Angeles freeways each day?
Some things are just understood as the way they are — and those time delays and backlogs are accepted, though never enjoyed. While Angeleno clients certainly want to make sure they’re getting what they want in a timely manner, they’re also a little more open to the standard (and sometimes extended) wait times and delays.
While both cities have pros and cons when it comes to their visual aesthetics and the way they respond to the minutiae of design work, I can honestly say that neither one is better than the other. I love being able to work on both coasts, to experience both sides of the design style spectrum, to stretch my legs hustling Manhattan, and then to cruise around Hollywood with the windows down on a sourcing day.
There’s something incredibly special about both cities, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had nothing but incredible clients from coast to coast. Working and living in Los Angeles and New York has given me a particular depth and breadth to my own personal style over the years — I wouldn’t trade this crazy, bicoastal design life for anything.