Today I am honored to have the illustrious designer Markham Roberts join us for a Q&A Style Profile! Markham is one of my absolute favorite designers, and it comes as no surprise that he began his career with another favorite… the legendary Mark Hampton. Markham has been recognized by Architectural Digest’s prestigious list of the top 100 interior designers and architects in the world, the AD100. He was also included in the 2018 book “Inspired Design, the 100 Most Important Designers of the Past 100 Years,” among the all-time great decorators. And he is truly one of the greats. Vogue has called him “a master of timeless American style,” and Architectural Digest says he is “known for savvy, erudite interpretations that make old-school, all-American decorating fresh again…” precisely why I love his work! Welcome, Markham!
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in interior design?
A: I had always been interested in art and design, but I had no real clue that I wanted to be a decorator until I actually started doing it. I was lucky enough to get a job working for the great Mark Hampton, and I immediately knew that I was doing exactly what I should be doing. I must have been a bit slow at that age.
Q: What were the biggest lessons you learned while working for Mark Hampton? Do you have any stories you can share?
A: Of course being exposed to Mark and getting to work on the jobs the firm was doing was invaluable to my training, but the most important thing I learned from him was just how hard you have to work to get the job done well.
Q: Vogue has called you “a master of timeless American style,” and I couldn’t agree more. This is a characteristic that defines Hampton’s work as well. What is the secret to achieving timeless style?
A: I don’t think there is a secret or any applied effort but rather more of a love or interest in great design from all over the world and letting it direct or inform one’s work. As Americans we are a perfect mix of all sorts of diverse cultural influences, and I think this is what makes us interesting.
Q: In your book you say your family gave you an appreciation for “traditional things” such as Oriental rugs, European furniture, silver, and old paintings, and that “knowing the past gives us the foundation for being creative in our own ways.” How do we keep these traditions alive today and into the future?
A: Don’t let these things go. If you love antiques, use them, mix them in and enjoy them.
Q: How do you define the essence of American design?
A: Again here I see it as a mixture of all our diverse and multicultural influences. My grandparents collected English and French furniture and European paintings, which were in fashion at the time. In today’s global times, we have so much more to draw from, and whether people are interested in Chinese contemporary art, 19th century Russian furniture or African tribal sculpture, they all help to make up a uniquely American feel, conveying our curiosity of the world around us and our ability to assimilate things into our broader culture.
Q: What are five classic pieces of furniture or design elements every home needs?
A: My needs are comfortable furniture, good functional lighting, art and accessories that please me or remind me of things, ample shelves for books, and I always like a well set up bar.
Q: Are there any signature ingredients you particularly enjoy incorporating into your interiors?
A: I try to make each job unique to itself and the clients, but there are always elements we are naturally drawn to and use again and again. Custom pillows and lampshades are important parts of my designs, and they go a long way to give each job character.
Q: Is there anything new or different your clients are asking for these days?
A: All tech needs are new to me. I still use my CD and DVD players happily. Which is why clients have AV systems put in by the professionals.
Q: How do you make a home feel truly special and unique?
A: Listen to the client, think carefully about them and make their home reflect them and the way they live.
Q: When you aren’t busy designing, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I enjoy garden work, being in nature, traveling when I can, cooking, and listening to music.
Thank you, Markham, for joining us today. What an exquisite portfolio! These are rooms that will look just as fresh and beautiful 50 years from now. For additional information, please visit Markham Roberts Inc. and follow @markhamroberts on Instagram for ongoing inspiration. Photography for today’s post is from Markham’s book, Decorating the Way I See It. If you don’t already own a copy of this book, you will most certainly want to add a copy to your library along with Mark Hampton: An American Decorator and Inspired Design, the 100 Most Important Designers of the Past 100 Years. Great design stands the test of time.