A Conversation with Visionary Interior Designer John Douglas Eason

8 Min Read

For over three decades, award-winning interior designer John Douglas Eason has been transforming spaces through his visionary style that bring together a cohesive blend of texture, pattern, and color. In a recent sit-down with design expert and Brown Harris Stevens Agent Kirsten Aiello, Eason discusses his personal taste in interior design, what inspires him, and much more.

What is your favorite room to design and why?

I truly love designing any room that I’m given, as they all have the potential to be very personal to the clients that I serve and I love knowing that . I do love designing a library, so few homes have the luxury of having a room dedicated solely to the purpose of being able to cozy up with a good book. I love to make a library that feels rich, plush, and private. Hopefully without the benefit of a TV and possibly some events that have special meaning for the homeowner.

Where do you draw inspiration from and how/where do you infuse it into your designs?

Inspiration comes from everywhere, especially when it is always client driven. I have a client whose family has a military background, so we painted a mural of the West Point campus on their dining room walls. Another client in a 1920’s Tudor wanted a home imbued with traditional elements like a grand European chateau, so the design featured damask silks, antiques, needlepoint rugs , Bagues chandeliers, and elaborate drapery. Yet another client, relocating from the suburbs to Manhattan, wanted a sophisticated residence in cool grey tones throughout. By incorporating Venetian plaster, Silk Mohair, Mother of Pearl and custom paint finishes in the various rooms, all in shades of grey, we delivered exactly what our client wanted with no two rooms looking the same. We pride ourselves in our ability to listen closely to our clients and take inspiration from who and how they want to be, it is our clients that will be living in their homes when our work is done, not John Douglas Eason, Interiors.

What is the most meaningful aspect of being an interior designer?

A note that I recently received from a client that we’ve worked with for several decades sums it up best. She was referencing one of her children’s rooms, who as a young adult having finished college, has decided to join the Navy and serve his country. She said “He has been blessed to have special spaces in every one of our homes that you created for him." That is the most meaningful aspect. We have the great fortune to affect the lives of those who inhabit the rooms we design. I can’t think of a higher honor one could receive in any other profession.

What is next for design? What are your predictions for the future?

Designs and trends will always come and go. Who would have ever guessed 20 years ago that “brown” furniture would lose its prominence in a well designed home. For the future, I see an ever growing field of new designs, created through new and previously unheard of forms of technology.  We will always borrow something from the past and incorporate it into these new ideas, but I think we’ll see less and less dependence on furnishings that were commonplace a century or two ago.

It’s all in the details. Can you share your process with us and how you specially emphasize those details to make a space come together ?

Back to the question about inspiration, the last project I mentioned above. The “grey” one. As we developed our design schemes for this project, and worked on getting each room to feel unique yet collectively cohesive, we worked closely with our client to develop the details of each room. The owner of this spectacular home summed it up best: “John, You are my favorite decorator because of your fabulous detail!” The inspiration for the little details that make the project sing comes if you are watchful, lean into it, and trust your gut.

How do you use color, texture, and pattern to bring a project to life?

I love color and texture, but I most especially love moody color that has a richness and depth to it. For me a room never really comes together if there isn’t a mixing and blending of rich color, texture and variation of forms, heights, widths and finishes. Not only are these elements critical to good design. But there must be a balance of all of these elements so that a room does truly come to life and embrace the family that will inhabit the room.

Tell us about one of your most extraordinary projects and what made it so special?

One of the most extraordinary things that can happen when you work many years with a client is that the process not only changes your clients and how they understand the way that they live, but it can also change you as a designer. Hopefully, in a positive way!

We are just wrapping a project in Miami, it is our fourth home for this client in a 23 year span of time. By the clients direction, the first three homes were all in a traditional vein. However. in a contemporary condo on the very southernmost tip of South Beach, traditional was definitely not in order. It has been amazing to work with this client and see how they’ve developed by the questions that they asked in the course of planning the architecture and finishes. It's fun to see them embrace contemporary furniture and clean lines. One of the nicest experiences that has come together after working together so many years is that the client and I trust each other, admire each other, and have total respect for each other. They are exceptionally thoughtful about the contributions I’ve made to the way they live. This is a stage in a design relationship that not everyone is fortunate to achieve and it makes working with such a client most unique and special beyond words.

Do you find doing a renovation can be done more efficiently in the city?

No, pretty much just the opposite. Although time limits to complete work can speed decision making along, the challenges of working in the city and keeping everything in check are much more challenging than working outside of the city where your neighbors are literally sitting right on top of you.

Do you have a favorite building in the city? And why?

Hands down, the Empire State Building. Having grown up in Fort Worth, Texas, the Empire State Building was something fantastical that I only saw on reruns of “I Love Lucy”. For the last twelve years, I’ve lived only a few blocks away from her and I get a bull's eye view every night when I circle my block to walk my dog. She never disappoints, although I kind of hate the new led lights and rod at the top of the building. For me, however, she never grows old and the sight of her, as she rises out of the darkness always makes my heart sing.

For questions on interior design and/or the New York City real estate market, connect with Kirsten Aiello here. 

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