Los Angeles interior designer Kelly Wearstler gives readers a glimpse into her stunning designs for boutique hotels in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Austin, and residential projects from Venice Beach to Malibu in Rizzoli’s new “Synchronicity,” out September 29.
“I was thinking about the title, about every person, merchant, creative client, operational, everyone involved in making the project happen. It is the ultimate collaboration,” she says, explaining that the hotel project can involve up to 200 people.
The book offers a peek inside a mid-century Malibu beach house with rich wood paneling and palm trees by Issa Issa and textures, layered rugs, and antique pieces by J.F. Chen and others. Readers can also get glimpses inside a 1960s Los Angeles home, with a simple entryway and staircase that allow the bold art to stand alone, including a sculpture by Hank Willis and the Quelle Fête disco ball sculpture handcrafted in the Netherlands by Rotganzen.
It’s also a pleasure to see Wearstler’s work as Proper’s creative director in such detail. “I like it to be very local,” she says of the brand.
Downtown Los Angeles, which opened in 2021, came with pedigree.
“It was the Case Hotel in the 1920s, and it had a membership club way before its time, and then it closed down over the years, and then it became the YMCA in the 1960s and ’70s, so there were some interesting architectural moves,” Wearstler says of how it ended up to the design of a luxurious three-bedroom suite with its own 30-foot pool and a basketball pavilion with 18-foot ceilings. “It’s a very special place in Los Angeles, and we took a lot of inspiration from the historic facade and early California carvings.”
She brought her layered design language to Santa Monica Proper in 2019.
“I wanted it to feel like you were in Santa Monica or Malibu, but also for this interior to be earthy, interesting, and well-designed. So the team and I wanted everything to look like I found it on or near the beach, like the nautilus shapes, the soft, rounded corners, and the wall panels.” “Which looks like driftwood, chiseled and earthy plaster, and really soft alcoves. And another space, the grotto, which is a little library; I wanted it to feel like it was owned by an older couple who collected books and amazing art, and to be a cozy, inspiring space.”
At Austin Proper, which also opened in 2019, she created a “beautifully chaotic” environment by incorporating flea market finds, like a mysterious dog painting outside the powder room; Intentionally mismatched tiles in different colors and patterns on a massive wall at the Peacock restaurant, including a neon chandelier as a nod to the city’s popular South Congress music scene.
“I got it at Round Top,” she says of finding the poodle painting at a popular antiques show an hour outside of Austin. The mismatched tiles were dead stock sourced from a family-owned tile shop in Lisbon.
“We offer clients contemporary and vintage items, and that’s how I design and dress. I travel, and I’m always going to galleries, flea markets, and auctions, collecting pieces along the way,” she says.
A fashion enthusiast, Wearstler has ongoing partnerships with Dior and Matchesfashion, has collaborated with Net-a-Porter, edited a city guide for Louis Vuitton and designed homewares for Maison Margiela.
“I love fashion and it is very inspiring for me and my career,” says the designer, who also has a strong home products business across categories with Ann Sacks, Arca, Farrow & Ball and Rug Company.
It has just launched its first collection of tables with Belgian brand Serax, which is sold globally, and will be at Salone del Mobile for the first time in April.
There are four other proper hotels under construction, including a renovation of the Cal Neva Lodge & Casino, a historic Lake Tahoe property once owned by Frank Sinatra. “Everyone from Sammy Davis Jr. to Marilyn Monroe will visit it… A group of investors has teamed up with Proper to develop the hotel and there will be a 20,000-square-foot spa, a theater, a membership club and a casino like you would see in Europe,” Wearstler says. Very elegant.”