From his early years as a painter (Warhol and Basquiat were friends), to flipping his first house at 21, and then more than a decade designing clothes for his namesake brand and for Halston, interior designer Bradley Bayou draws from an expansive background to create unique, functional and dramatic living spaces.
And to him, this fusion of disciplines makes total sense.
“Art, real estate development and fashion — which is about materials, draping, function and balance. If you put all of it together, you have an interior designer,” Bayou said.
Designing a room should follow the same guidelines as designing a dress, he said — not just balancing colors but approaching the subject from a 360-degree perspective.
“Don't just walk into a space and see everything,” give only glimpses, so visitors are intrigued and made to wonder, “Why are all those people walking over that way?” said Bayou, 62. “Drama is really important to me.”
The designer creates exciting yet functional homes by blurring — or eliminating — the lines between interior and exterior, especially in California projects. In the living room of his West Hollywood home, retractable walls of glass slide open so “it becomes one blended space … a house where you live in all of it, indoor and outdoor,” Bayou said.
When it came to designing the two-story penthouse with 20-foot ceilings atop the Jenga Building in New York, Bayou made the space less daunting with clever lighting design.
“Basically we dropped it down 10 feet so even though the ceiling keeps going up, at night it sort of stops and the intimate lighting brings it down to a pedestrian level,” he said.
What first inspired you to venture into interior design?
I designed around 25 houses myself in the early ’80s, flipping and living in them before I was an interior designer. I was always kind of obsessed with it; before I could walk I was dragging furniture around the room. In 2012, a friend of mine who really liked all my houses asked if I could help design their house in the Hollywood Hills. I said yes and it looked really great, on budget and everything. Three months after I had two more projects, then it just hasn't stopped.
You play with shape and texture a lot.
I try to break up the square room. When everything is perpendicular and parallel it's boring and predictable. So you throw a circle in there somewhere, an odd shape or a round elevator. And all the textures I use have to pass the soft test.
Your work is often described as “world modern.” Can you elaborate on this?
Midcentury influenced me when I first started because of the clean lines and the odd shapes in certain cases. But now if someone says my house is Midcentury Modern, that's not appealing to me. But fabrics, furniture and other aesthetics from around the world, mixed with Midcentury, creates this look that's kind of hip and worldly. So anyone from around the world could walk into these spaces and feel a certain comfort level.
Tell me about your Bradley Bayou Design line.
I have a furniture line and a pillow line. A lot of the pillows are really rare with fabrics I've been collecting since I was a fashion designer. I had a hard time finding pillows, so I started making my own. I'm really excited about my furniture line. We're starting mostly with dining chairs, armchairs, couches and will evolve to beds, dining tables and coffee tables.
What are some interesting new design trends?