As Charleston emerges anew on the design radar, so, too, has the look of its must-visit destinations—which have crystallized into something entirely fresh and modern. The source of this new vision: A crop of talented makers and designers who are reimagining the local aesthetic.
From restoration hotels like the Dewberry and 86 Cannon to ante-upping shops such as Hampden Clothing to creative riffs on traditional restaurants (think: neocoastal oyster bars and Mexican cantinas), their work shares a desire to create unique and character-rich places. In a 400-plus-year-old city, backstory is, after all, everything.
Betsy Berry didn’t set out to design hotels and restaurants. But when her husband, Robert, a chef, took a job in Charleston in 2012, the David Easton alum fell into the field organically.
A consulting stint designing properties for a large hotel chain led to subsequent commercial projects, which all bear the hallmark of Betsy’s meticulously researched, impeccably turned-out interiors—from boutique hotel 86 Cannon to the recently refreshed fashion hub Hampden Clothing to Pancito & Lefty (pictured above), Robert’s three-years-in-the making tribute to mezcal and the flavors of Mexico.
[The cafe in the boutique hotel 86 Canon.]
[A cozy sitting area in the salon of 86 Canon.]
When Amanda Greeley left the New York corporate fashion world to pursue her own sartorial vision, she made the move to Charleston—a place she’d long visited with her family—and inspiration struck. Her newly launched line of loafers, Thelma, is a modern twist on menswear for the ladies in a lush palette.
In her own home, Greeley painted the floors a robin’s-egg blue (pictured above), a shade traditionally used on porch ceilings around Charleston, as well as the front door a vibrant ocean blue. The result is a fresh take on a familiar city fixture.
[The dreamy bathroom of Greeley’s home also feature pale blue walls.]
[A mood board of Thelma inspiration, laid out on the light blue floor.]
Ky Coffman and Will Allport
Whether they’re customizing matchbooks or conceptualizing a brand from scratch (see their recent design of The Darling Oyster Bar), this husband-and-wife studio focuses on a project’s cerebral elements (narrative, atmosphere) as much as on its tactile ones (packaging, signage). It’s a 360 approach that reflects the couple’s prodigious creativity, along with a studied eye (both are trained architects).
[A fresh plate of oysters at the Darling.]
Robert Highsmith, Stefanie Brechbuehler, and Ryan Mahoney
To witness this trio’s ability to create transformative spaces—the lighting, millwork, furniture, finishes—head to the Dewberry, a 1964 federal office building–turned-five-star hotel. Throughout the property’s 155 rooms, plus a restaurant, spa, ballroom, and public bar and gathering space, the aesthetic balances modern design with Southern charm.
[Workstead also designed Henrietta’s, a southern-inspired French restaurant in the Dewberry.]
[A breakfast spread at Henrietta’s.]
Courtney Rowson and Amy Pastre
Through their trailblazing creative agency, designers Courtney Rowson and Amy Pastre have applied their signature blend of clean layouts and vintage-inspired lettering and graphics to projects ranging from packaging and digital identities to travel books and city maps. Likewise, their influential online shop and letterpress studio, Sideshow Press, produces instantly timeless work—just like Charleston.
[A shelfie of Sideshow Press products.]