Rachel Montgomery Paupeck is an architect and interior designer who works with the sensibilities of an artist. Paupeck’s unique creative process resulting in amazing interior spaces for a range of clients that span from big brand corporate events and interiors to small homes in New York City. Her life long passion for art and design has led her to start her own design firm called Montgomery, and create awe-inspiring designs for the likes of fashion shows, hotels, public art-installations, and residential interiors. We talked to her to find out more about the thought process behind her design technique and her top tips for interior design.
Rachel is known in her field for her talent at fusing her installations with quality pieces at low cost, and for her interesting play on texture. Especially for big brands, she’ll create spaces with high unique pieces that evoke an authentic feeling. “I make my brand experiences feel like art installations. I’ll use very unexpected materials or I’ll use a surface that’s usually on the wall on the floor, for example. Reusing unusual materials in new ways is what I’m known for,” she explains.
Recently, Rachel rolled out the holiday cheer with an installation for the Real Christmas Tree Growers Association and their campaign, It’s Christmas. Keep it Real. “They wanted to promote this idea that the authenticity of Christmas has been lost in the way that we buy fake Christmas trees. The holiday spirit has changed to one of consumerism, which isn’t what Christmas is all about,” she describes. With this concept in mind, Rachel and her team created an outdoor living room at South Street Seaport that invited people to recover the real meaning of this holiday.
“I made the installation look like a grandmother’s house with a cozy feeling and furnished it with furniture from AptDeco. We created a space that promoted the idea that Christmas isn’t about buying something new; not everything has to be sparkly or off-the-shelf or fancy to be beautiful and be the true spirit of Christmas,” says Rachel.
The It’s Christmas. Keep it Real installation included: Large Wood Coffee Table (originally $300, bought on AptDeco for $100), Ethan Allen Console Table (originally $825, bought on AptDeco for $453.75)
Generally, Rachel’s role is a hybrid of production director, interior designer, architect, and artist. Her projects will range from promotional events – like the It’s Christmas. Keep it Real installation – to interior gut renovations, decor for big corporate hotels, or consulting on home design for families. “Essentially, I’ve done a lot of big and small projects, from private to corporate clients,” Rachel explains. “For example, I’ve done a lot of fashion shows and lounges for fashion week at Lincoln Center. But my favorite kind of project is helping clients with a home that doesn’t have the right feel yet; they don’t feel completely happy at home and they can’t figure out what’s the right solution for them.”
Rachel provides a range of assistance to these families looking to create a space that fits their taste and character. “Usually, these clients have hit a wall in their design and don’t know how to make their home feel right, but a couple of accent pieces can make a difference. Without much time or effort, we can really transform a space,” she explains. In that case, she asks the client to pick out a few pieces of furniture and then gives them feedback. For some clients, however, the process is a bit more complicated.
When a customer is looking for more hands-on help, she starts the learning process by taking her clients out to their favorite restaurant in New York. “I believe that people choose to go to restaurants over and over for more than just the food. There’s usually something more that intrigues them. So, that’s why I like to take clients to their favorite restaurant and talk with them about the things they like – the lighting, etc.” This process allows her to get more insight into the aesthetic her clients are seeking.
Rachel has lots of tips for aspiring designers and DIY decorators alike. She approaches her design projects by creating a master plan broken into stages. For example, if a client doesn’t have the budget up front to make big purchases, she’ll recommend to prioritize what pieces to buy first while making sure the overall aesthetics stay consistent between purchases. She advises, “families grow and change, and your master plan can grow and change too. But if you don’t have a master plan, you may reach a point where you don’t really know why, your home doesn’t feel right.”
For anyone looking to grow their career as a professional designer or decorator, Rachel recommends following their passions. “The thing that makes you most employable is to be the expert at making or doing one particular thing. For example, if you really love thinking about lighting and you love to meditate, try combining those two passions to create spiritual spaces,” she says. Rachel reflects that it took her a while to get started, but by basing her design practice in her passion, she’s gained the confidence to go forward and take big risks that pay off.
Learn more about Rachel and her projects by visiting Montgomery’s site.
Photos: Rachel Montgomery Paupeck via Montgomery, Owen Hoffmann/ Patrick McMullan via Mashable
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