At SZ, we love to feature the experts we work with on our team so our readers can get to know them a little better, too. This month, we’re featuring an interview with Gary Henderson of Gary Henderson Interiors.
Gary has been working with Suzanne for 12 years, completing several major projects together, such as Caruccio’s Culinary Event Center. Suzanne admires Gary’s experienced authority in the field of interior design, as well as his personable and friendly communication style with clients and across teams. He brings a humanity back to the process of design, and similar to Suzanne’s own philosophy, Gary designs with solely the client in mind.
Here’s our Q&A with Gary!
Julia Hess: Where do you find your inspiration? What inspires your work as an interior designer?
Gary Henderson: The life of the client and how they live is what inspires me. This comes on a daily basis in different ways, but it comes down to wanting people to be happy and enjoy their home. I want to make them feel comfortable in it, and I believe everyone should have beauty in their life. I’ve never worked with bad clients because I become so invested with their life and their quality of life, even down to how they set the table, that we practically become friends.
JH: How have your past experiences influenced your design philosophy, especially working with internationally-recognized interior designers such as Tonny Foy?
GH: Here are some of my design philosophies as a result of my past experiences:
• Everything is designed by someone, either on purpose or by accident, so why not do the best design possible?
• Pay attention to everything. Not only the environment you are working in, but the people who will inhabit the space. Look at how they currently live, dress, and interact with the space, what they are visually attracted to, and learn from it.
• People are the only reason that design exists, so the space needs to be a back drop to the people and how they use the space, not designed to be for show.
• There is a hierarchy of space, and experience within the space. You shouldn’t be hit on the head with everything at once. There needs to be layers… Someone might not notice a great detail on the trim until they sit in the space and relax and are able to take in everything, which slowly creates a sense of discovery.
• There is such a thing as enduring classic design, that good design is always good design. The designs we did at Tonny’s still look great today. Sustainable design is about creating quality design that lasts. One great sofa well designed and manufactured can last a lifetime (with a couple reupholsteries over the years), and it’s more environmentally sustainable than purchasing a sofa every 10 year and sending the old one to a landfill.
I’ve also had the opportunity to have exposure to leaders and trendsetters in the industry and some of the greatest patrons of the time:
- Architect/designer Ben Baldwin
- Decorator Benjamin Baldwin
- Furniture designer Ward Bennett
- Interior designer Joe D’ Urso
- Textile designer Jack Larson
- Architect IM Pei
- Architect Paul Rudolph
- Artist Frank Stella & Andy Warhol
- Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov
- Stanley Marcus
- Bass Family
- Moncrief Family
- Tandy Family
- Richardson Family
JH: What do you hope to achieve through your design work?
GH: I hope to bring beauty into the lives of everyone we work with, improve the quality of their lives, and hope they see the world through new eyes and appreciate the world around them.
JH: How does collaboration come into play with your projects? Outside of the client, who else do you consult, and why?
GH: I enjoy working with talented architects, interior designs, general contractors, furniture designers, landscape architects/designers who elevate my work. I collaborate with people I like and have shared values.
JH: How do you make the design process enjoyable for both you and your client?
GH: I make sure the process is enjoyable for everyone by engaging the client and helping them understand the importance of design in their life. By doing this, they usually want to be engaged and they see the results of the process. I also provide design solutions that respond to what they are asking for, not something that I (the designer) wants to have simply for a portfolio shot. Once they realize I’m listening to them, I can show them other concepts outside the “defined scope or program” and they are usually more willing to look and listen to new ideas.
Written by Julia Hess