According to This NYC Designer, This Reno Material Is Best When Vintage
And it doesn’t have to be expensive to look good.
Published Feb 4, 2021 1:00 AM
Estelle Bailey-Babenzien—cofounder of downtown New York City’s retail hot spot Noah, famous for selling cooler-than-cool menswear with a side of progressive messaging (like this James Baldwin tee for Black History Month), and Dream Awake, an architecture and experimental design firm—has an eye for all things “in.” Her most recent project? A total gut renovation of actor Adrian Grenier’s Brooklyn townhouse, with a focus on sustainability (take a tour soon at Domino). “We made choices based on what felt good and what was the right and responsible thing to do,” she tells Domino editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez on this week’s episode of Design Time (out today on Spotify and Apple Podcasts). “Thinking sustainably means really caring about the neighbors, craftsmen, and artisans who are right on your doorstep.”
During their conversation, Bailey-Babenzien shares her favorite eco-friendly materials, the future of Noah, and some of the things inspiring her right now. Read on for a sneak peek.
Greatest InspirationI didn’t go to school for interior design; it’s all self-taught. I’m inspired by everything I allow into my brain—travels, what I read, what I look at. I tend to be more inspired by architects than anything, and I think in my next life I would like to be one.
Dream DestinationKyoto, Japan. I just absolutely love Kyoto. The craftsmanship; the slow pace and living; the Buddhist, zen vibe. Not to mention it’s pristinely clean and historic, and the food is exceptional. Every shop you go into and every hotel are just very different from what I grew up with. I’m excited to go back there.
Favorite Color PairingDeep blues, teals, and indigos, and deep earth tones like blush and saffron, rose, and turmeric. I like their intensity. I think that’s really refreshing.
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Artistic VisionThis past year I’ve really been into art that has a political point of view. My friend Cassi Namoda is incredible. Her colors are beautiful, and her whole style and aesthetic are so authentic and simple. She has incredible taste, and her art is just stunning.
Natural WondersI get most inspired by the outside, whether it’s a city, the beach, the mountains, or a color; it’s always external environments and spaces before interiors, to be honest. And moods, as well, like cultural moods—even food and art.
Binge-Worthy ShowsThe Queen’s Gambit. Stylistically the whole show is so beautifully done. It’s such a joy to watch. And actually, Peaky Blinders for the same reason was fun to watch. It is super-edgy and cool and just really stylistically done.
Go-To Vintage SourceThe Modern Republic. I have worked with [the owners] on furnishing projects for the store and our office. They’re two Black guys based in Pennsylvania. They scour the East Coast for stuff and have an eclectic style. They sell through their Etsy shop and also through Instagram, and they have a store outside of Philadelphia.
Material of the MomentI’m in love with tile. I think tile can look so modern and historical at the same time. You can buy incredible vintage pieces that are beautifully hand-painted. And you don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive thing, which I love.
Trademark TipIt’s really important to carefully consider how you feel at home. Everything you’re surrounded by has an impact; it has an energy and it’s going to uplift you—or it could deflate you. With that in mind, if you’re putting integrity into your choices, you can feel good about those things.
Favorite FabricsI love to use natural materials as much as possible, like wools and cottons. When upholstering, texture is really important to me.
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