Designer + Colour Consultant, Philippa Radon
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Techniques for the Evolving Interior Designer

“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you decorate your home, how your writing looks and the way you feel.”
— Helen Bonham Carter

There are quotes that we find, or that find us, which strike a deep and resounding chord. The above is simplistic – an observation of finding beauty in the everyday around us.

As an interior designer, it serves to remind me that I don’t have to orchestrate large projects or depend on clients to be creative – that I am my own piece of working art, with a multitude of daily opportunities to be exploringly artistic. Being creative for my own purposes and development contributes so positively to my work to others. The results are not about design for design sake, but in creating environments that house and preserve experiences of everyday life.

To be self confident in design, to be able to envision, research and resource, craft and create a well tailored interior that resonates the personality of the dweller is an art form.  It is the creating of a visual map. It is the telling of a story that tells other stories – a collaboration that builds relationships based on intuitive trust between strangers with sensibilities that resonate and mesh. It is not about a designer’s prior achievements or well-styled portfolio, but instead, the recognition of a partnership – a chance to explore, journey and travel together and transform a home into something unique and beautiful.

Creating personal design stories with my clients.

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New projects demand new exploration. While the blueprint is different each time, there is a familiarity to the process that I am able to introduce to my clients. Establishing a visual guide and direction that immediately opens up the conversation to their individuality and personalization.

To me, the word “project” indicates a sense of movement that encourages me to collect myself from any disorder or holding pattern; it’s a signal to my creative resources that we will soon be called upon to contribute.  An inner energy and excitement is ignited, space cleared and prepared, tools sharpened.  The project assembly and mapping begins.

Mapping techniques provide a theoretical beginning, middle and end, that starts with placing my clients and I together at the “You are Here” point.  It’s the embarking of a road trip.

These techniques allow us to zoom in and out, with a bird’s eye view, of the terrain we will traverse.  This introduces my clients to a new approach, a new way of designing their home and developing their own sense of style with a greater confidence, appreciation and understanding of the design process. Developing a visual story is a balancing act, a collaborative art that helps achieve successful interiors.  After all, is that not what we are all striving for?  A nostalgic collective of timeless beauty, comfort, functionality and longevity? A surrounding that nurtures us, frames memories and marks time?

My role as a designer is ever changing. Though technically, “design” (purpose, planning or intention behind an action or material object) still defines my role, my approach has developed into something deeper and more meaningful.  For so many, the value of home life is lost in the hubbub, flurry, trends and speed of daily life. My approach, allows us to redefine what matters most as we layer and mix the relationships of our lifestyle choices, interests and style. It is all so intertwined.  Where else is there but within our homes to harness the opportunity to build our personal portfolio, that encompasses everything for each of us uniquely.

Like so many industries today, everything under the design umbrella has been affected by technological advancement, product exposure and of course, social media, at a pace I cannot pretend to conquer.  Though essential and beneficial, I am graced in that my world remains tactile and intimate…and in the knowing our responses are most honest when through direct visual contact, feel and fragrance.

I have entered hundreds of homes over the years, (I really should have counted!) of every shape, size, style, age and continent. I absolutely love the rush of that first introduction, the roaming through someone else’s rooms and observing, ingesting everything I possibly can.

Our homes represent so much about us; they are an insight into our minds, personality, order, energy and passions.  In an age where we live with such reconstruction and adaptation to new social and economic conditions, the need to feel our homes are authentic and true to our own nature and sensibilities, is paramount to our sense of well being and stability. I want to create homes that entice you to stay home more, enjoying the creature comforts and beauty of your surroundings. Mature and evolve as your own life does naturally, seasonally.

The accumulation of my design experience, trained eye and intuitive nature complimented by practiced studies, such as Vastu Shastra, Hygge living and Aromatherapy contribute in creating interiors that are carefully curated and tailored on many levels. The rewards and gratification support the belief and knowledge that our happiness is genuinely affected by our surroundings. There is a strong golden thread and building of all these relationships for our wellbeing.  It is a permanent practice for me, not an occasional exercise, but a way of life.

A “Hygge” (pronounced hue-guh) approach to living is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling of making your environment cozy, charming and special.

I am inspired by colour; it is my medium.  The starting point for almost everything.

“The whole nature of colour is deeply personal and subjective – but never private.”

Be it from paint, textiles, flora or art  – these are the necessary vehicles that convey and transport the world of colour and design for me. Colour is a living organism that grows and molds and shapes.  Colour is the daily mystery that I swim in.  It provides a renewed approach to my everyday living, everyday.

As I tackle new adventures in the upcoming year, I plan to devote more time to considering the why, what and how, to test my own techniques and continue to evolve as a designer.

I have the unique opportunity to use my own home reconstruction project as inspiration to test new design techniques so that I can help others create spaces they love to live in.

Though I have lived in and transformed many homes, my current (rather dilapidated) 1890s farmhouse home in Eden, WNY is a true test to all my skills as it slowly transforms into something that is essentially, authentically me.

Nature provides a constant source of inspiration.

Please join my on my design journey on Instagram @philipparadon.

 

The Journey Back to Black: The Nuances of Dark Walls

There is something undeniably glamorous about a minimalist stance — the balancing act of reduction; the idea of “less is more”. But to eclipse color and blanket everything with black holds a magic of its own.   Currently, I am experiencing a great sense of relief and freedom with this intentional choice and, for the first time, refusing to get caught up in the drama and complexity that comes with layering color and forming harmonious, complimentary color palettes. As much as I love, adore and appreciate color — and its walk before me every minute of my day — there is something  currently refreshing and appealing in the choice to remove it all and surround myself with black, and the many discovering shades thereof. I see that I have always underestimated the value of black as an exclusive choice, perhaps fearing that this strikingly dramatic solo player might possibly overplay its hand.

Experimenting with varying shades of black.

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For me, black has always played the supporting role in a production. Though a valued and highly regarded team player in my cast of colour, it was never center stage. However, while walking this path of new discovery (also partly inspired by the purchase of my new home that begs for the unusual), I realise that black needs no partners; it has a mysterious and secretive world all of its own. It contains and absorbs all colour.

This black gloss powder room delivers the drama.


Many of you stand alone in the darkness, with the self-bravery and courage to venture out into this world.  For me, I am faced with my memory and fear of dark lake waters and being told to ‘jump in’. They say the dark waters represent the unconscious mind and your fullest potential, which especially at a young age are unknown and intimidating.
I’m inspired by the “dark side” of my friend, London-based stylist, retailer and designer Abigail Ahern  a who embraces the dark colors and adventurous interiors.

Ahern’s signature colour palette is an array of intoxicating, dark, inky “bottom of the lake” hues.


As I open myself up to black in its quiet, reflective solitude, I am learning to focus on its nurturing qualities – the richness of good soil, the lone flight of a raven across a grey misted winter sky, the surface of a long road that supports me each day in travel.

In my design, black supports and almost demands a lack of clutter and the introduction of furnishings and art that allows these pieces to shine bright like stars in the darkness.

And, I confess to going to personal extremes in my new-found respect of black by eliminating the flavoured creamers in my coffee that lined the refrigerator door. I am now a coffee-drinking purist with no ten word order for my morning java.

Black paint is like the color of my coffee


Taking my new affinity toward black personally by removing the creamer from my coffee!


Today, there are so many variations of the standard black-black that instead of feeling mired in the darkness, they highlight the subtle undertones: bruised blue-black, deep amazon green-blacks, black with a warm red or umber influence that looks like dark roasted coffee beans — all rich and intoxicating. 

C2’s line of “near blacks” represents a full range of the dark side with colors like Aperture, Stout and Baritone. The saturation of C2’s finely ground pigments provides a “black” with undertones of dark greens and blues that have much higher resolution and an intense depth.

black paint with white is a classic combination


The eternal classic pairing of black and white (featured: C2’s Aperture + Architectural White)


Embracing black is a process that I welcome and embrace, even knowing the challenges it poses. On a recent design collaboration for a public Buffalo Showhouse event, I used my new ally partnered simply with white. The classic combination was chic, classic and sophisticated. I partnered with Traci Ackerman of Red Disc Design and created a schematic around her Burchfield Penney wallpaper launch with the ‘Flowers at Night’ wallpaper.
wallpaper painted with black paint


With the historic 1921 design by Burchfield Penney we selected a contemporary C2 color palette of esoteric midnight black – Aperture, with a calibrated measure of Seraph – a soft blue grey tucked into window niches and the hallway.


The black and white schematic navigated me into a more minimalist aesthetic, which, given that I have moved home four times in the past 19 months, definitely has its pluses. Everything becomes so punctuated against a dark background — and needs careful curation. It is a more definite and orchestrated production in furnishing the space with a need to view and understand all the nuances and subtleties of light, texture and the combinations of finishes.  The identity of the space becomes a place for self reflection and peace for me.
How long this will last? I have no idea. The beauty of our homes is that they allow us to create a refuge that represents that particular chapter of our lives, and can change just as easily with the ebb and flow of time.For now, I’m enjoying and embracing “the dark side” for now, and all the teachings that came with this new direction.