Millions of Americans fell in love with interior designer Thom Filicia and his laugh-out-loud candidness and unmatched aesthetic prowess in “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” He was one of the original “Fab Five” back when the show first aired in the early 2000s. Since then, Thom’s gotten his own show with fellow Fab Fiver, Carson Kressley, written several books and built up a portfolio of design work that’s bursting at the seams with color, charm and a general feeling of HOW has this guy done all of this at age 50?.
Thom’s portfolio includes work for clients like Tina Fey, Jennifer Lopez and the late David Bowie. His clients also include Delta Airlines, New York City’s first LEED-certified highrise apartment building, Radio City Music Hall and W Hotels. Still not impressed? He’s created his own line of furniture, textiles and, well, pretty much anything you might need in your home. His expert imagination and roll-up-your-sleeves followthrough have created and recreated everything from a hopeless reality TV subject’s two-bedroom home to the world’s first outdoor airline lounge to an entire line of hotels.
On the heels of celebrating 20 years of leading his design firm and team of 20, we spoke with Thom about his love affair with the South (he was bred, educated and resides in the Northeast) and his design philosophy. We also get a juicy piece of intel about where you might soon be able to shop Thom’s line and his favorite products from around the world. Read on and get ready to see more of Thom Filicia’s unparalleled work — both in this article and all over the South.
You were educated in and reside in the Northeast, but you’ve worked on many projects in the South. Tell us what you love or appreciate about Southern culture and design.
I love that Southern culture is very much about entertaining at home with attention to every detail. [Southerners] have a great sense of historical awareness and appreciation of traditions, which are a strong influence on the way that they design and entertain and on their overall lifestyle and point of view.
Do you approach your work in the South any differently than work elsewhere in the country?
I think it’s imperative to consider the architecture, the location and the lifestyle of the people who live in any given location and home. Having a sense of place is the foundation of great design and the building blocks of what we do.
The breadth of your portfolio and capabilities is impressively far-reaching — from airports to hotels to apartments. What excites you the most? Or is it a balance of different projects that fulfills you?
What excites me about what I do the most is creating interiors where the personality of a project feels unique and special to that location, the people and the way that they live.
I’m also motivated by the variety and range of design-related mediums that I get to work in — from high-end residential and commercial interiors to products, television, books and showrooms! I love being able to participate in a multitude of design facets — it keeps things exciting and I’m constantly learning.
Many of your projects are communal spaces or traveler hotspots through which people from all over move. What do you want people to feel or think of when they’re in a TF-designed space?
I want people to feel that it is an authentic representation of the brand, the people who live there, the location and the lifestyle. I think great interiors have the same attributes as great people — they are sophisticated and stylish yet warm and approachable.
What’s your favorite Southern city and why?
There are a lot of Southern cities that I love, but I’ve been spending a lot of time in Nashville recently and am really enjoying the energy and vibe of the city, both from a place of entertainment, music, food and lifestyle, and seeing the city evolve into a very exciting place to live, work and play. I find that it has a really authentic American point of view.
Some of my favorite spots in Nashville:
- Sperry’s Restaurant in Belle Meade — I love it for its old-school nostalgia. It’s like stepping back in time, and I can only imagine what the walls would say if they could talk.
- 5th & Taylor in Germantown — repurposed indoor/outdoor hip restaurant that represents the artful lifestyle of downtown living.
Overall, I love that Nashville has such a broad range from old-school to new school, and they all speak to the evolving fabric that is Nashville.
How do you hope to further infuse Thom Filicia Inc. and your showroom, Sedgewick & Brattle, into the South?
I’m very excited to spend more time in the South and for my companies to have more of a presence in those markets. I am energized by the excitement people have for design and hope to bring what I do — both from a design perspective and product perspective — to more people throughout the country.
One way we plan to do this is to expand our showroom, Sedgwick & Brattle, which carries products from the Thom Filicia Home Collection (turning 10 years old this year!), as well as curated pieces that we love, to more cities. And we are looking to go South very soon! (You might be able to connect the dots to where we’re thinking … wink wink.)
Tell us about a few exciting projects that are on the horizon for you.
I’m very excited to be partnering with Round Top, TX’s 2020 Farmhouse Showcase, with my design partner-in-crime, Carson Kressley. We’ve partnered with the fabulous team at The Compound to help select finishes and interiors for their Designer Dream Spree Showcase, which will benefit local animal shelters, and Dwell With Dignity, a nonprofit that creates soothing, inspiring homes for families struggling with homelessness and poverty. I’ve also been lucky enough to work on residential and commercial projects in Wrightsville Beach, Tampa, Miami and more!
Describe your design philosophy in four words.
Thoughtful, stylish, sophisticated, livable
A HUGE thank you to interior design expert Thom Filicia and his team for sharing some impactful design news and these gorgeous photos, all of which are credited to Thom Filicia, Inc., unless otherwise noted. You’re always welcome down South, Thom. Our door’s open — why don’t you come inside and brighten up the place!
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