Interview with Kelly Behun : design elements


Interview with Kelly Behun

categories Designer, Interviews    

Kelly Behun is a New York-based interior designer whose work I’ve been drawn to from the first moment I saw it in Vogue and Desire to Inspire. Although Kelly received a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania she decided to follow her heart and moved into the world of design. I’m always impressed by people who made the choice to follow their passions. Meanwhile Kelly’s fabulous work has been published in many magazines globally, including House Beautiful, House and Garden, Vogue, Elle, Bo Bedre, Elle Decor Italy, New York Magazine, Architectural Digest Germany, Marie Claire Maison. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview as much as I did!

How would you describe your own style?

I am always reluctant to describe my style too specifically as it is always evolving….but others have called it “warm modern.”  I am naturally drawn to modern interiors but always with an organic element, as well as something with a bit of “kook,” that is, something a bit off, surreal, or so-wrong-it’s-right.

You attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where you received a Bachelor of Science in Economics. What inspired you to get into design?

The realization that I would be a lousy investment banker. My mind tended to wander in class to more interesting issues, such as how could I redesign this room to make it more conducive to learning?  Why is this lighting so unflattering and what would I do to fix it?  Those were the early signs……

Looking back at your first project what decorating knowledge do you wish you had back then designing the interiors?

I guess I wish I’d taken more risks back then, not played it quite so safe, but for me that is something that has come with experience and confidence. My risks tend to pay off now, I can only imagine what they would’ve looked like back then. I see some of the fashion risks I took and I shudder.

Is there a designer that has influenced you?

I tend to be more influenced by architects: the elegance of Paul Rudolph’s Sarasota houses, the restraint of John Pawson, the sensualness of Marcio Kogan, the audacity of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes.

Some designers believe that the first piece for any room is the rug or a painting that sets up the colors palette. What is your first source of inspiration?

The first source is the client. I love the collaborative process and where the push & pull of it can lead.

Your white rooms are incredible! How do you achieve this?

The funny thing about white is that people get scared of it, but when you have enough white in a room an interesting thing happens optically…not only can it be incredibly calming and soothing, but it tends to suppress the eye’s desire to pick up little imperfections, like a scuff here or a stain there. And that is the paradox of the all-white interior – it is rather forgiving!

How do you achieve a good scale?  Scale is a really interesting and difficult topic.

I was fortunate in starting out to work for Ian Schrager’s design team and in doing so got to work on several projects with Philippe Starck who is a master at playing with scale in a space…it is all about balance: knowing when to respect it and when to subvert it.

What do you love to do when you are not designing?

Just hanging out with my 2 boys, and with my husband.  The 3 of them are funny and sweet and make me laugh.

Who are your favorite artists?

Michael Heizer, James Turrell, Louise Bourgeois, Frank Stella, Agnes Martin, Francis Alys, Tauba Auerbach, Marlo Pascual, Elad Lassry.  I could go on…..

Your favorite books?

All-time favorite: The Great Gatsby.

You have 2 children and a successful interior design business. How do you balance work and family life?

I think most working moms would agree, the balance is not always easy to achieve but somehow things always fall into place.  My kids are my priority but working makes me happy and my children know that. And when I’m happy I’m a better mom.

What does success mean to you?

For me a successful interior is one that captures the essence of the client, and that beautifully expresses the original intention of the room, whether it be to restore, transform, calm, excite, inspire. Professional success means happy clients, and actually becoming friends with my clients after the project ends – that was something I never expected when I got into this business but it has come to mean a lot to me.

My signature Design Elements question – what are the most important design elements?

Good lighting, and knowing when to stop!  I don’t like a space that has been over-designed…i prefer a bit of “negative space” where the eye can pause and rest. I’ve found it to be a powerful tool to achieving a beautiful environment…..

photos: Kelly Behun Studio


28 Kommentare zu “Interview with Kelly Behun”

  1. Andreia Bertolli am 01.02.2012 um 13:15 Uhr 

    Really beautiful work! I liked very much! :-)

  2. cabbagerose am 01.02.2012 um 14:37 Uhr 

    Kelly Behun is now on my list of favorite designers. thanks for the introduction and enjoyable interview. happy day. xx

  3. Hogger & Co. am 01.02.2012 um 17:04 Uhr 

    AAAYAAA I want all of these things – that beautiful leather chair and that rustic table. How beautiful is the light in the first photo?

    Wonderful work.

  4. rebecca hartmann am 01.02.2012 um 19:36 Uhr 

    Was für ein toller Blog!!! Hier werd ich sicher des öffteren rein schauen!!! Ich bin begeistert!

  5. jeni am 01.02.2012 um 20:23 Uhr 

    wow, beautiful work! i’m so glad that she followed her passion and brought some more beauty to this world!

  6. Johanna am 01.02.2012 um 20:27 Uhr 

    Thanks! I LOVE her work. Like your blog too. Have a nice evening :)

  7. Thoughts on Design am 02.02.2012 um 01:38 Uhr 

    Kelly is a very talented designer. I especially liked her concluding statement about good lighting and knowing when to stop. So true, so true. If the lighting isn’t right, the most beautiful room in the world feel off. I think that it is the empty space in a room that allows and encourages what is there to sing and to be appreciated.

    Maria, Thank you for stopping by our blog today!


  8. Captivated by image am 02.02.2012 um 11:29 Uhr 

    Thanks so much for introducing her with this interview, I hadn’t seen her work before. It is absolutely amazing, I love how her minimalistic clean style and she truly masters the white. Beautiful!

  9. Caroline am 02.02.2012 um 11:41 Uhr 

    Sehr schönen Blog Sie haben! Und vielen dank fur deine worte beim meingem Blog. :)

  10. Tereza am 02.02.2012 um 13:19 Uhr 

    Maria, I agree with those who define her style as warm modern.
    The second room is so me, love the rooms 3 and 4, too.
    Have a happy day.
    Warm hugs.

  11. meenal@maison marigold am 02.02.2012 um 13:30 Uhr 

    what stunning work..thankyou for introducing us this very talented lady..I absolutely love this is always so inspiring! have a lovely day..warm hugs..xx meenal

  12. La Boheme am 02.02.2012 um 17:54 Uhr 

    Maria! Thank you for the introduction of Kelly’s work, she is now on my favorite list. I agree with everything she says, funny how certain design philosophies can resonate with you and you immediately feel a bond with the other mind.
    Have a wonderful time in Berlin, how very exciting, it’s a city that is also on my list to visit next time I am in Europe. xx

  13. Alexa am 02.02.2012 um 18:10 Uhr 

    Ah love her style…and she’s gorgeous!

  14. Jimmy Schönning am 02.02.2012 um 21:20 Uhr 

    Love seeing new work introduced that I fall for like this. Thank you for the inspiration :)

  15. mary jo am 02.02.2012 um 21:24 Uhr 

    Her taste and design is so up my alley and “warm modern” is such a nice way to put it if you have to categorize it. Really love this interview Maria!

    xo Mary Jo

  16. Odessa am 02.02.2012 um 23:51 Uhr 

    Those views are amazing!

  17. Priscilla Joy am 03.02.2012 um 17:02 Uhr 

    Maria! Splendid. Absolutely splendid.

    Have a great weekend, smile loads :)

  18. Kate am 03.02.2012 um 19:23 Uhr 

    Gorgeous spacessss!

  19. Meta Musings am 04.02.2012 um 01:00 Uhr 

    Her work is beautiful and so is she!


  20. Shelly Gregory am 04.02.2012 um 06:00 Uhr 

    She’s beautiful and her work is so exceptional! Wow, the spaces you featured are amazing!

    Hope your time in Berlin with your husband was beautifully spent! So happy for you! Also, I am very happy for you and your building of a new home! I hope you will be able to share the progress and project with us! xo

  21. Susan am 04.02.2012 um 17:54 Uhr 

    Wow! I love all those images – I would kill for a view like the bedroom in the second image!

  22. Chérie am 05.02.2012 um 20:43 Uhr 

    Isn’t she just delightful? I adore her work.

  23. Meera @ firstsense am 06.02.2012 um 12:17 Uhr 

    That is an amazing interview! I love Kelly’s ‘warm modern’ style, her design philosophies, her white rooms and I especially love the brown and white living room. A very talented interior designer!

    Meera xx

  24. classiq am 06.02.2012 um 15:40 Uhr 

    Love how she plays with white and light. I wish there were more interior designers not afraid of white and simple lines.

  25. hotelsdesignmonde am 08.02.2012 um 17:50 Uhr 

    Nice work, nice interview! my fav’ pics: 2 & 3: whiteness, pureness, minimalism, lighting.

  26. Invitation To inspiration am 06.04.2012 um 23:36 Uhr 

    Thank you so much for sharing with us this inspiring interview…her work is so beautiful!!!

  27. c. Marie Hebson am 06.09.2012 um 09:14 Uhr 

    Now that I have discovered her – I will follow her and hopefully learn from her. Stunning, beautiful, elegant, balanced – I aspire to deliver to my clients the same calibre of interior design.

  28. c. Marie Hebson am 06.09.2012 um 09:15 Uhr 

    Now that I have discovered her, I will follow her -

Hinterlasse einen Kommentar!


Kommentare werden moderiert. Es kann etwas dauern, bis dein Kommentar angezeigt wird.