For the past 25 years, we have revered Mark Simmons’ talents and apt ability to transform a space. His classic designs often incorporate both traditional and European elements but there is no project he won’t confront. The basic principles of design help guide his work and importance is always placed on the clients’ personality and lifestyle.
In 1991, Mark Simmons founded his namesake business, Mark Simmons Interiors, which houses his design business, as well as a lovely showroom. Recently, Mark was kind enough to answer our burning questions and reveal a bit about his process as a designer. He shares tidbits about his background, his most challenging project, common mistakes and much more! Read on to see why we are crushing on Mark this month — and no, it isn’t just because of his charming smile!
Tell us about your experience and background in design.
I grew up in a family that was always tackling home projects and renovations and that sparked my interest in design. After attending Western Kentucky for two years, I transferred to O’More College of Design to finish my degree. The program at O’More placed a lot of emphasis on architecture — that paired well with my passion for architectural details and love for well-thought-out interior spaces.
What is your design aesthetic? How do you translate that to a client and his/her home?
Personally, I enjoy mixing styles for a collected, layered look. While the client’s personal preferences and style always dictate the direction of a project, good design is based on the basic principles and elements of design.
You are known for traditional design with a European flair. Can you tell us about this style?
Thirty-two years ago when I started my career in Nashville, a traditional style was what everyone liked and wanted. At that time, I was traveling to Europe on buying trips with Bill Hamilton. I absorbed everything I could about the European furnishings and styles of design I was seeing on those trips. This experience impacted the projects I worked on. It is easy to get pegged as a certain type of designer but a good designer can do whatever style fits the project.
What design services do you offer?
We are a full-service design firm. There is almost nothing (home related) we haven’t done.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
My own house always presents a challenge! I love and appreciate so many styles, I see so many beautiful fabrics, furniture and accessories … it is hard!
Where do you find design inspiration?
Mostly in everyday life — wherever life takes me.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? What is your favorite part of the process?
The process typically starts with seeing or being in a space. From there, I listen carefully to what my clients hope this space will be for them or their family. I am fortunate to work with a fantastic team of folks to formulate and execute a plan that fits their needs. I always enjoy install days where you see everything come to life.
Do you have any go-to stores for interior design finds?
I usually start with the showroom at our office. There are lots of great finds in Nashville but I am always shopping wherever I travel.
What brings you the most professional joy?
When a client says that the project turned out better than they could have ever imagined.
What are the top mistakes people make in design?
Not hiring an interior designer before finalizing construction plans. Many mistakes could be avoided by including your designer in the planning stage, not just the finished product.
Would you share one designer secret with SB readers?
Live plants instantly give life to a room.
What’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of interior design by those outside the industry?
Nothing happens as fast as it may seem on HGTV.
What is your best advice for a new designers?
Listen carefully to what your client is saying.
If you could design one person’s home, who would you choose?
Tricky … Jimmy Fallon seems like he’d be a fun client!
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Oh! That’s not hard. I can do it in three words: every detail matters.
Thank you, Mark, for answering our questions and sharing your expertise. Learn more about Mark and Mark Simmons Interiors here.
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