Q&A With Nile Johnson
Casaza: How did you get your start?
Nile Johnson: I think it's always been in me. I have always had that desire to manipulate space and create an environment that evoked feeling. At eight-years-old, I didn’t know how to articulate it that way; I just called it “moving Mommy's sofa around.” The desire from eight to today has always been the same. From a traditional perspective, I went to undergrad for interior design, and then on to grad school for interior architecture. I always knew I needed to be on my own, so after working for a few commercial firms, I started my own design firm, and the rest, as they say, is history.
C: How would you describe your style?
NJ: Because I have such an appreciation for all styles and have easily incorporated several different styles into most of my client projects, including my own, I try to focus more on a feeling or a mood. With that being said, my design style would be comfortable, elevated, and curated. No matter what. Be it mid-century modern or New England traditional, those three elements are definite musts in any space I design.
C: Where do you get new ideas and inspiration?
NJ: Everywhere! I make it a point to spend some time with myself, by myself doing something on a weekly basis. Be it from music or at a museum, time alone, requires you to be present, and in those present moments is where I typically find my inspiration.
C: Favorite room in the house?
NJ: The master bedroom. It is such an underrated space. Most people save it for last when it comes to the design, and often times invest the least, when ironically it’s the space that’s used first, spent the most time in, and (emotionally) gives you the most.
C: Design rule you don't subscribe to?
NJ: All rules are meant to be broken. Just depends on how and where you insert the break.
C: Recent project that inspired you?
NJ: I have current project where my clients are totally invested, totally present, and totally about the details, and how those details can be extracted in original and beautiful ways. I am usually the calm one when it comes to project design and execution, but I cannot wait to see this one completed. It’s going to be a stunner!!
C: Favorite texture/pattern/color?
NJ: This is hard. At the current moment, I’d have to say my favorite texture is velvet, my favorite pattern is a wool tweed, and my favorite color is aubergine. Be it combined or separately, I feel like there’s a story, a soul, a history, a meaning, behind all of these different elements, that is noticeable from yet penetrates deeper than their surface.
C: What is “good design” to you?
NJ: Good design is timeless; it is intentional, inspirational, and mood stirring. It captures the very essence of those who inhabit the space, and it tells their story. Possibly in different ways to different people. It is Complete, and it is comfortable, elevated, and curated, fostering the growth of new dreams, and the creation of new memories.
C: Pack your bag! You're moving into a famous home. Whose is it?
NJ: Oprah. There is so much I could gain from living in Oprah’s house. First of all, I would just love to see the end result of her newest re-design, as she was told by a designer who happened to be visiting that her home was not a true representation of her. I’d love to see what that representation looks like. Additionally, Oprah is all about sharing the things she loves, as am I, and presentation, authenticity, and living your best life, are important to her as well. She’s a fellow Aquarius, and we are like-minded in a lot of ways, especially when it comes to how life should be lived, so I know I could live a fantastic life in her home -- one that is abundantly beautiful and meaningful.
C: What’s your rule when entertaining?
NJ: I always try to keep in mind that it is not just an event but more-so an experience. These days people are working harder and longer than ever. Time off is precious, and when someone chooses to spend it with others at an event, it should be one that pulls out all the stops. Nothing should be familiar or likened to the everyday experience.
C: Best advice for DIYers?
NJ: Make sure that the desire to DIY is born out of a passion for the project. Otherwise, you won’t be fully invested in the process.
C: Best advice for those hiring a pro?
NJ: Trust. Trust yourself, and know that you hired the right person. Trust your professional and know that they wouldn’t guide you in the wrong direction. I want clients to be willing to think about, hear about, see, and touch ideas and options that they may not have considered before. I also want them to be open about their ideas and thoughts. Some clients hold back out of fear that what they think they want may not be good enough to mention to a designer. I always reassure clients, you don’t have to know how to get to the museum, in order to have the desire to go. Just tell me what it is you want, where it is you want to go, and then… let me guide you there.
C: What is one design trend are you most excited about this season?
NJ: I’m glad that color is back, especially in the kitchen! I neutral and white moment in interior design, in a lot of ways has been mistaken for a mood, instead of a style. Having designed a lot of white kitchens tells me so. Most people wanted clean kitchen-design; un-cluttered, open, airy, and acceptable among the masses in a re-sale situation. However, the popular belief that lied amongst the majority of people was that the only way all of those components could work, would through the implementation of a white kitchen. This is just not true. Neutrality in color palettes does not signify a clean comprehensive kitchen design, or vice-versa. The combination of function, style, layout, materials, finishes, and yes color, along with a whole host of
other design elements are what create the final project, and all the feels that come along with it.
C: How do you take your coffee?
NJ: Black & strong.