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Mat Sanders does it all. From interior designing for big-name celebrities to starring in Queer Eye’s short-form sister show, Werrrk!, the creative has a foot in basically all the design doors. Since quarantining he’s only expanded his repertoire: hosting craft clubs (pantry pet portraits, anyone?), turning his dining room into a home gym, even making dioramas of the “quarantine early days.” But he found a minute to sit down with Domino’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Romm Perez, for this week’s Design Time: “Design goes beyond the visual. It’s very much a visual dialogue,” Sanders explains. “And there’s so much to design in terms of the process and the headspace people are in, which is so important to what we do. And you really can’t get that unless you have a conversation about it.”  

Tune in to this week’s episode on Spotify and Apple Podcasts to hear more about the designer’s thoughts on purposeful design, his favorite flower (tulip), and how he kick-started his career. Throughout the conversation, Sanders shares a few of his design insights. Here’s a sneak peek at some of his tips. 

On Working With What You Have

“During this time, one of the easiest upgrades you can make is to work with what you have. Think about rearranging your floor plan even though it might feel a little awkward. It should work for you in your life.

On Finding Your Object “Friends”

“I think design is all about balance. As a stylist, I love to put everything out on a table. And then whether it’s shelves or a mantel or a coffee table, I start to play around with things. I look at objects that could be friends. And I think about whether or not everything can have a dialogue and creating a visual balance in terms of scale and material, but then also I think about whether or not items can live together and feel like they could be BFFs.”

On Wrong Being Right

“My favorite decorating move is to get everything perfect, very orderly, very put-together. And then I like to take a step back, look at it, and say, ‘How can I fuck this up a little bit?’ I call it the ‘wrong theory.’  Whether it’s making something just a little off-kilter or injecting some kind of color moment that’s completely wrong. But because it’s so weird, it makes it all come together in a very magical way.”


On Surprising Budget Finds

I’ve been shopping discount tile places and finding subway tile with a beautiful patina and small interesting 4-by-4 tiles that are really cool that you can use for a stacked pattern. They always end up looking super high-end. So I’ve actually surprised myself with some elevated looks I’ve been creating using discount tile. If you’re doing a renovation project, stop at that discount tile store; you’ll be surprised at what you find.”

On Storytelling 

“It’s all about telling your story, and that story doesn’t necessarily mean that the table you have in your house has been passed down from generation to generation. It could be from three months ago, like: I went on a shopping trip and I picked one and that was such a wonderful day and memory for me. It’s really just about endowing everything that you bring into your house with some kind of journey and some kind of story.”

On the Future of Design

“I really think design will be all about creating a sense of serenity in the home. I think especially as the wellness industry becomes more mainstream, we’re going to see it intersect with the home. And I think we’re going to see designers promoting thoughtfulness and really thinking about everything having a purpose. It’s just so important that spaces not only make you feel good, but that everything makes sense for your life. And that can only be achieved by being super-thoughtful about the way that you plan your spaces.”