L.A.-based interior designer Schuyler Samperton never had a master plan, but always followed her instincts.
“When I was little,” says Schuyler Samperton, the lilt in her voice as lovely as the story she tells, “I would play decorator with samples that my father, an architect, brought home from his office.” Design has always been part of my life.”
Cut from the same cloth as her father, Samperton studied art history with thoughts of a career at Christie’s or Sotheby’s before segueing into the music business and working as a publicist for Fox. Then she met designer Michael S. Smith and he offered her a job.
Two weeks later, she inherited design projects; four years after that, Schuyler Samperton (by then a design manager at the firm) left to start her own company with a co-worker. In 2007, she went solo, and her work has been splashed in the pages of Vogue Living, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest and more.
Celebrated for the elegant, easy aesthetic she employs to transform high-end residential and commercial spaces from coast to coast, Samperton’s comfort zone exists somewhere between these geographies.
Originally from Washington DC, she maintains a house on an island in Maine, a tiny apartment in Miami, and heads her firm in Los Angeles; she designs in all vernaculars and brings a heightened sense of multidimensionality to her work, allowing a project’s specific environment to dictate its character.
Samperton has never fully shed her East Coast side; in fact she rather flaunts it, a Sister Parish for the modern day, with the grand dame’s sensibility for curated flourish.
“I love wallpaper. I love worn rugs. I love pattern on pattern and creating a mood with beautiful lighting—that’s what really feeds my soul,” says Schuyler Samperton.
“I love spaces like that,” particularly if the space is a cozy library. “Oh, that’s sort of my favorite little spot,” she adds, drawing a picture in words. “Wallpaper, a nice fireplace, a pretty rug, tons of art on the walls, a bunch of pillows—that to me is like heaven.”
A version of heaven is exactly what Samperton creates for her sophisticated clientele. “I went through a point where I had a lot of single men as clients,” she laughs. “It was quite an adventurous bunch for a while, which was really fun because they sort of let me do whatever I wanted. I remember saying to one, ‘I’m just feeling a total Big Sur moment, and he said, ‘I love it, just do it.’”
In 2017, the designer launched Schuyler Samperton Textiles with eight patterns in rapturous colorways. Her mother’s scarves inspired some motifs; one is named for the street of her childhood home. Not one to be in a holding pattern, Samperton is currently at work on a 1920’s remodel in Los Feliz, a place for a prominent TV show actress, an apartment for the screenwriters of American Graffiti and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and a jewelry store showroom. It’s a lot, she concedes, but like the spaces she designs, “always something different.” samperton.com
Written by Jenn Thornton
“I think every artist strives to bring their own unique vision to life,” says textile designer Caroline Cecil, who is doing just that with her eponymous L.A.-based line Caroline Cecil Textiles (CCT). “It’s a lifelong exploration trying to get at the heart of what you are trying to communicate and how that is reflected in what you put out in the world.” In her case, chic motifs printed on premium material.
Raised among artisans in a creative community in coastal Maine, Cecil learned to paint from her grandmother, and it’s been bold strokes ever since. “Looking back, it’s clear to me that textiles was always my calling,” says Cecil, who went from sketching and collaging in her free time to studying fashion design at Parsons before transferring to Maryland Institute College of Art to pursue a degree in textile design. “I mixed my own dye pastes, would spend Saturday nights screen printing on silks, learned the ancient technique of Batik and other resist-dye techniques. I was so focused during my degree; and while I missed out on a lot of parties and social events, I took away an intimate and completely personal education in fabric.”
She applied this understanding first at an NYC atelier that made fabrics for couture runway collections and whose clients included designers Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera, then for large corporate companies, like Levi’s, Angela Adams and Target. But it was serving as design director for different Silicon Valley start-ups that taught her the nuts and bolts of “building a company from the ground up.” From there, Cecil says, “I had enough confidence in my capabilities as a leader and a designer to take the leap and launch my own collection.”
Cecil’s line of hand screen printed fabrics originates from her India Ink paintings and ranges from bold and graphic to soft and textural. Since launching at interior design showroom De Sousa Hughes in San Francisco, the collection has expanded to showrooms in Chicago, Atlanta, and Austin, as well as those in Toronto and Australia. The first of CCT’s branded collaborations is a limited-edition pillow collection with Venice-based brand Parachute; three exclusive prints on three different colorways printed onto beautiful Belgian linens.
While incredibly curated, CCT is aesthetically balanced, appealing to both traditional to modern tastes as well as what Cecil describes as the “strong uptick in artisanally produced fabrics” that comprise the heart of her business. “Designers and clients are becoming more aware of how hand printed, dyed, woven textiles can infuse luxury into their interior through texture and the je ne se quoi of the handmade,” says Cecil.
Forthcoming for CCT are launches in Consort design studio and shop in New York and L.A. this summer, along with an exciting collaboration in 2018 and possible opportunities in the wallpaper realm. With so much on the horizon, it’s not an understatement to say that Cecil herself is painting the town. “Los Angeles is an incredible place to work and live as a designer,” she says. “The creative community here is thriving and alive. As with any city, there is inspiration all around and there are so many opportunities and connections to discover. I love being a part of the design community in Los Angeles.” CarolineCecilTextiles.com
Written by Jenn Thornton | Photos Courtesy of The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
Much has been made of Doris Duke—her dalliances and eccentricities, her vast fortune and reclusive nature. In 1925, the 12-year-old, only child of an American Tobacco Co. tycoon inherited millions, making her the “richest little girl in the world.”
One with a penchant for hopping continents, first with her parents, then with her husband, James Cromwell, with whom she honeymooned across the globe.
Beguiled by Hawaii, the couple extended their stay there and went on to purchase a dazzling oceanfront parcel near Diamond Head, outside Honolulu, for Duke’s Islamic-inspired eden—Shangri La.
On the surface, Shangri La is the grand, expressive statement one might expect a tremendously prosperous person to own, particularly in the 1930s, when it also reflected a fashionable interest of the era. “At the time of her travels through the Islamic world, affluent families in New York City were enamored with the orientalist fantasies,” explains Konrad Ng, executive director of the home’s current role as Shangri La Center, A Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design.
But, he adds, “Doris Duke’s curiosity was the start of what became a more meaningful engagement with Islamic art and the recognition of its great value.”
Shangri La articulates quite significantly her “deep embrace of the world-at-large” and “her admiration of the history and heritage of peoples and cultures that may not have been her own.”
Completed in 1939, Shangri La is comprised of 5 acres, on which the main house stretches a magnificent 14,000 square feet. Architecturally, the property’s most signifying feature is the Central Courtyard, its open-air ceiling and fountain indicative of a Middle Eastern home. Of the mansion’s 12 rooms, a number have undergone dramatic changes. The Damascus Room was transformed into its current state in the 1950s, when Duke purchased an authentic Syrian interior for the space; the Dining Room, formerly ocean-themed, sported a wall of aquariums and a traditional dining table and chairs; and the Syrian Room was once a billiards room with an office on the upper floor.
Most spaces, however, have changed only with textiles, furniture arrangement, and new acquisitions over the course of Duke’s lifetime. The Mughal Suite, a jewel-box bedroom and bath that borrowed inspiration from the Taj Mahal, remains striking with marble inlay panels and carved marble screens. Intended to mimic royal gardens on the Indian subcontinent, the Mughal Garden offers exterior flourish, complemented by the Playhouse, a poolside pavilion that replicates an ancient Iranian palace. Interior touches are rich and flavorful.
Highlights include ornate tilework (most from the Ilkhanid period); late Ottoman-Syrian interiors and furniture; a vibrant foyer ceiling made in Morocco; colored-glass windows; and a kaleidoscope of textiles and carpets for a lavish cultural tapestry.
In all, the Shangri La collection encompasses some 4,500 objects, the majority of which were created in the Islamic world. Of these holdings, most notable are two intact
Damascene interiors (the aforementioned Damascus Room and Syrian Room), which offer a chance to see traditional painted woodwork, or ‘ajami, up close outside of Syria; the ceramic luster Veramin mihrab (48.327), which dates from 1265 AD and features a rare signature and date; and a pair of shaped Indian Mughal carpets (81.49 and 81.50) from the 17th century.
History may call Doris Duke an heiress, but she is best considered a philanthropist, one who used her wealth for the cultural inheritance of all.
With a place like Shangri La, the “richest little girl in the world” became a true woman of the world.