Kelly Wearstler Curates a Luxe Lifestyle
by Laurie brookins
She conjured the jewel-box chic seen throughout the Viceroy Miami, as well as the sea-inspired mélange of luxe at the King & Grove Tides South Beach, yet during an August sojourn, Kelly Wearstler opted to stay at Soho Beach House. “I love both of those hotels, but it would be like sleeping at your office,” she says. “I was with my husband, and it was about shutting off the work side for a bit.”
Wearstler highlighted her work for the Viceroy—a cunning blend of blues and greens, onyx, blown glass, and marble (and a floor-to-ceiling mural of blue herons that stops you in your tracks)—in her 2011 book, Hue (Ammo Books; $29.95). Her latest tome, Rhapsody: Kelly Wearstler (Rizzoli; $55), hits bookstores this month, and explores six new projects throughout the US and the Caribbean. “It’s about the evolution of my projects, focusing on the curation and the process of how I work, though done in an artful way,” Wearstler notes. “It’s not a how-to book, but more a culmination of a bunch of things: objects, art, accessories, and how everything comes together to make one beautiful story.” Wearstler is set for a book signing on October 2 at The Rug Company Miami.
It’s much easier to live the Wearstler lifestyle these days, as the LA-based designer has ventured beyond conceptualizing interiors into creating full-on collections of ready-to-wear and jewelry, as well as a line of furniture and home accessories. The latter was another reason Wearstler was in Miami this summer, as she made a personal appearance at Neiman Marcus Coral Gables at Village of Merrick Park. Always bold and often tactile, Wearstler’s home accessories range from spiky brass kaleidoscopes to sinewy female nudes or a set of brass legs that seem to rise with impertinence out of a tabletop. “My love of metals and stones is really important to the home collection, as well as making things that are timeless: classic pieces that feel very sophisticated, even as they’re modernized and presented in a totally unexpected way,” Wearstler says.
If you’re expecting a chicken-or-the-egg answer to how Wearstler creates her collections, or whether she approaches the design of her home line differently than that of the ready-to-wear or jewelry, well, it’s a little more complicated than that. “All of the inspiration kind of comes at the same time,” she says. “We do five collections a year for the fashion, so the ideas are always flowing. That inspiration definitely moves into the home, and from there it might move into the jewelry. A vase could so easily inspire a rug, or vice versa, or a piece of jewelry could inspire a ready-to-wear fabric that I then could use to cover a chair, or the print that was created could become a rug design. Everything intertwines.”
It’s easiest to make the associations between Wearstler’s home items and her jewelry, which is likewise often chunky and bold; standout pieces include her gold-plated prong cuff, accented with crystal quartz, and her signature gunmetal chain necklace—its centerpiece a hefty piece of rose quartz. Wearstler’s ready-to-wear, meanwhile, embodies all the ideas that one might throw into a suitcase for a Miami weekend, she says. “I’d pack one of our silk blouses in a beautiful print, one of the amazing little clutches with the stone settings that are so great, and I love T-shirts, so we have some really great, cool T-shirts with metallic prints, as well as some great denim. And then in Miami you always need a sexy, great silk dress in a print,” she says. “Ultimately it’s a collection of things that are easy; I want girls to be comfortable and look great and feel sexy.”
Her frequent trips to Miami continue to inform such a philosophy, Wearstler says. “Miami is a modern city, and I’m a modernist at heart. But I also love color, so I’m drawn to the fact that this is a city that loves color.” Wearstler is also quick to mention Miami’s popular slate of vintage shops as requisite to any visit, from C. Madeleine’s and the Fly Boutique for clothing to Michel Contessa and Stripe for furniture. “I just got this amazing, massive sculpture from a South American artist; I think it measured six feet by nine feet,” she says. Unlike the rest of us, who would contemplate such a purchase purely through the logistics of its size, it should come as no surprise that, in such cases, Kelly Wearstler is absolutely fearless. “Oh, no, it was crated and off to the client in a moment,” she says. “For me, that’s the easy part.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY THOMAS WHITESIDE (WEARSTLER); WORLDREDEYE.COM (with models)