Los Angeles based designer Cari Berg always brightens Mecox LA’s day when she pops in, so to have her in store for a whole day creating such a fabulous guest window was a treat! We caught up with her to get her tips and tricks of the trade.
We love the gorgeous window you just created for Mecox LA! Winter White is one of our favorite themes. What inspired this dreamy window?
I love winter white and think the color has just the right amount of grey and cream—to me it is a color with perfect balance and calm but definitely not lacking in personality. I think the color evokes a dreaminess and coziness that is perfect for winter. For the window, I wanted to play up texture and tonal elements so that some of the items we used fall away and others, like the unbelievable burl table, catch the eye immediately.
So, how did you get started in interior design? What is your first memory of interest in design?
I started my official foray into design through the design program at UCLA—I was hooked from my very first art history class. I began my career doing drawings for a small interior design studio on Montana Ave in Santa Monica and then six years later opened up my own firm. But, I started long before that without even realizing it—moving furniture in my room around constantly as a kid plus my parents were, and still are, remodeling and building addicts– all of it felt very familiar and natural to me.
Where do you start when taking on a new project? What inspires the design-color, period, location?
I start a project considering the needs of our client first and foremost—we do an extensive job of making sure we understand how the clients live and how they ultimately want to use the space. We then heavily consider the architecture and the proportions of the space—scale is one of those things you can’t necessarily identify but, if it is off, you will immediately feel it. Finally, we look forward to doing something a little different with every project we take on. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much good design and we get to see so much either through travel or local shopping trips. We are always filing away lighting fixtures or fabrics waiting to use them in just the perfect project.
You’re definitely a ‘neutral’ girl…your palettes are so creamy and light with pops of color for contrast. What is it about that design philosophy that works for you?
I would definitely say I am a neutral girl, with a deep appreciation for texture, shape and contrast. I tend to create spaces from the walls in and really pay attention to how the furniture will sit in a space and how it plays off the background we create. Neutrals allow for clothing, artwork and people to be the center of a space and, ultimately our design is all about allowing the people living in these spaces to shine.
What is your ‘go to’ shade of white?
I go through phases. Right now I am loving Dunn Edwards Droplets—it has a hint of gray and looks amazing with a true white and also neutralizes the colors around it.
Current trends show that antiques or vintage items seem to have fallen out of favor with younger homeowners who tend to appreciate a more temporary or disposable approach to home design, as they do with fashion attire. Have you seen this with your clients?
I haven’t really seen that with our clients—our clients tend to want enduring design that will look as current in 2030 as it does right now. That is not to say that we don’t follow certain color trends but we tend to design spaces that are not so disposable.
Budgets are always a top concern for clients. How do you balance the need for quality furniture versus a desire to keep costs down for the client?
Basically we prioritize and make sure our clients’ priorities are being considered at all times. We carefully choose where to put the bulk of the budget. If there is an outrageously expensive fabric we are dying to use, for example, we may just upholster a small chair in it rather than suggest it for drapery that requires many more yards. We are also very adept at dealing with mixing things up—we use the term “Gap T-shirt with Gucci shoes” quite a lot.
You seem to float between residential and commercial projects with such ease. Do you find the jobs very different?
I do find residential and commercial design to be very different. In commercial projects, I really have to consider wear much more seriously than spaces used by a single family—and I hate to compromise on the aesthetics! But, I recognize the practical aspect of design is as important as anything else. I really love the personal nature of residential design and have been lucky enough that the smaller commercial projects I have done have all been very personal. I have designed smaller boutique offices, a hair salon and restaurant bathrooms and all these have come through clients I first met on residential projects. As long as I feel like I can get some of our aesthetic point of view across, I am happy doing either—though I can’t really see myself designing cubicles any time soon!
Tell us five things you can’t live without!
My Cell Phone
My go-to Prada sandals for running around LA—I have them in every color.
PaperMate Black Fine point pens
The 5 1/2 thing would be knowing I have an upcoming trip planned somewhere!
What’s next in the Cari Berg world?
2017 started with a bang–we are so excited and fortunate to have a bunch of new design projects starting, including a contemporary ground-up project in Brentwood, a very special Old Hollywood Traditional and a beautiful Paul Williams in Toluca Lake. We also have stepped into the beginnings of our own CBID furniture line and continue with our Chic To Me feature that we blast electronically every season and post on our website, highlighting things that are catching our eye at the moment.