New York interior designer Ryan Korban has designed retail spaces for the biggest names in fashion – most recently the Aquazzura‘s opulent flagship on Madison Avenue – and counts Nicole Richie and Behati Prinsloo amongst his best friends, but it’s his uniquely luxe aesthetic that’s got people talking. Combining old world romance with urban seduction, Korban creates atmospheric and alluring worlds. It’s no wonder his name appears on the prestigious AD100 list as one of the design world’s best young talents for 2017. As part of our luxury leaders series, Nathalie Breitschwerdt speaks to Ryan Korban about his design philosophy, the relationship between fashion and interior design and his “must have” luxury.
LUX: Given your background is not in interior design, was it difficult to break through barriers to make your mark?
Ryan Korban: I truly believe good taste can help you start any creative career. When I began to study European history in school as well as art, I realised I loved the idea of creating an environment. In a city like New York, confidence and professionalism are everything. Any sign of weakness and you’re finished, so I try to stay strong through the whole thing. It’s important to just keep moving forward. I am always looking for the next thing and not relishing in the moment.
LUX: How would you define your own interior design aesthetic? What makes it unique?
Ryan Korban: I think it’s critical to have a very clear aesthetic because there are so many designers and it’s easy to get lost. The three critical elements in my style are sex, romance, and fantasy. It’s hard to say which one of them is most important, because I really do think it’s the combination of them that creates something alluring and beautiful.
LUX: You describe your philosophy as “more is more”. When does more become too much?
Ryan Korban: There are times when I’ve tried “more is more” and that never feels as successful or well thought-out. If the room is a fifty-fifty split between contemporary and traditional furniture, I find that confusing – it’s like your taste is split in half. For me, a beautiful, contemporary room with antiques sprinkled throughout is just enough of both worlds. That’s when I get the most positive feedback.
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LUX:Which project did you find most challenging and why?
Ryan Korban: When you work with people who have their own ‘taste,’ it is always a collaboration, which is always a challenging thing. You want to be sure you push your client so they will listen to you, but you always have to be sure their voice is heard as well. It can be a very tricky balance. This is the exact reason I often prefer working on commercial spaces. It tends to be more straightforward when you are working with a company versus a private client.
LUX: How do you define luxury within your brand? Is it exclusivity, a trend, the price?
Ryan Korban: For me, luxury is the idea of taking luxurious things and using them in your day-to-day life. It’s something that we saw happen in fashion, and I don’t think it’s necessarily something that has happened in design yet, which is what’s so alluring about it.
LUX: You designed retail stores for various fashion labels, how would you describe the relationship between fashion and interior design?
Ryan Korban: I think of interior design and fashion as a kind of art form. It’s all abstract for me; it’s all about a feeling or a mood. A client might want a living room that’s comfortable but also a little sexy. So you want furniture that you can fling yourself on – fur and carpeting.
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LUX: Which piece of furniture / decoration is an absolute luxury “must-have” for each household?
Ryan Korban: I think what you want to do in any space is create a sense of drama. I’m a huge believer in lighting. I think it’s another easy way to transform a space, and I don’t think you can have too much lighting, especially in New York City or any metropolitan setting.
LUX: What do you have planned for the future?
Ryan Korban: I have been really focused on residential right now and have some amazing projects completing in the spring.