Interior designer Cortney Bishop comes by her design insight naturally. After all, she grew up watching her mother build a successful design company out of their family basement. And while it may have taken some time (and a few other professional pursuits in between) to discover her niche, these days, Cortney has her own wildly successful interior design business out of Charleston, SC. From cozy residential projects and eye-catching hotel bars to bright and airy beachfront condos, her style is decidedly casual — with an edge. Get to know our latest designer crush, Cortney Bishop of Cortney Bishop Design.
What launched your career in interior design?
My innate creativity and entrepreneurial drive have been with me from a young age. Growing up, I watched my mother launch her own successful interior design firm, which she ran as a one-woman operation from the basement of our family home. While I pursued a business degree and corporate consulting career following my father’s advice, I always knew my true passion lay in my creative pursuits.
After getting married, my husband and I relocated to Knoxville, TN, where I found myself in a new environment with a fresh start. It was then that I decided to pursue my interest in either fashion or interior design. Ultimately, I chose interior design as a career path because I believed I could make a lifelong commitment to it and receive support from the community. Plus, I felt I could bring something to the community that was a little edgier for that time.
I took a leap of faith and started my journey at a design gallery, working closely with one of the designers there, soaking up all the knowledge I could. Eventually, we started our own design firm, and for five years, we successfully ran Barlow and Bishop. Around 16 years ago, my husband and I relocated to Charleston, close to where I used to spend my childhood summers. At that point, I realized I needed to take the leap and start my own venture — and CBD was born.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I love to blend a laid-back, bohemian vibe with strong architectural elements. Organic shapes inspire me, and creating asymmetry is key because it adds an intriguing dimension to my design. I strive to establish a strong connection between the interiors, the architecture, the location, and the surrounding views. By playing off the materiality of the space, we create a cohesive and relaxing experience for anyone who walks through the doors of the homes, hotels, or restaurants we design. Everything is deliberately connected to create a seamless and inviting atmosphere.
How do Charleston and the South influence your designs?
Charleston, with its rich history and captivating architecture, is currently undergoing a transformation — more like a renaissance. The romance of the landscape, along with the energy of this renaissance, with novel concepts and prospects emerging regularly, is genuinely inspiring.
You’ve designed everything from student housing to residential flats and hotels. What are your favorite projects to work on?
I am passionate about complete home builds that involve collaboration between an architect, a landscape designer, and an experienced builder, allowing me to bring my vision to life. I also love working on boutique commercial spaces where I have the creative freedom to experiment and fully realize a unique concept.
Who are some of your mentors and greatest influences?
My father had a keen eye for personal style and loved sharing his passion for clothing and quality belongings with me. I’m certain his sharp, fashion-forward attitude played a significant role in my decision to pursue interior design. We shared a love for personal style and placed a high value on it. He was instrumental in shaping my sense of style and taught me the significance of first impressions and the importance of being independent.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
Traveling is the way to go! There’s nothing quite like experiencing the art, music, fashion, and way of life of a different culture. It’s an incredibly transformative experience.
What is your favorite room in your own home, and why?
Our family’s favorite room is the den off the kitchen. It’s the room we spend the most time in as a family. During a trip to Morocco a couple of years ago, I discovered beautiful, handcrafted mosaic tiles that reflect significant moments from my life. Placing them around the fireplace in the sitting room seemed like the perfect way to share the story of our family. My wish is that spending time in that room will evoke a sense of our life journey together.
What design advice would you offer us to elevate our homes?
Consider investing in high-quality, durable furniture that can endure daily wear and changing design fads. Although the initial cost may seem steep, it’s probable that you will still cherish them a decade from now.
What five words would you use to describe your design philosophy?
Organic, timeless, playful, collected, layered.
What’s next on the horizon – personally, professionally, or both?
Next on the horizon is my new e-commerce platform, Album. As a designer, I see it as a means of creative expression that lets me explore uncharted territories beyond the confines of our firm’s project work, blending the realms of design and music.
Our aim for Album is to offer visitors a unique and exclusive experience where they can unearth a thought-provoking work of art, a highly sought-after vintage item, or an object that’s simply rad through thoughtfully curated interior installations inspired by music.
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