Outside the Gates: Interior Designer, Miles Redd

Georgia Norton
“It’s a very rewarding experience,” he said, “when you can take your career and kind of look back, take stock of what you’ve done.”

Chances are, if you subscribe to Architectural Digest, Veranda, House Beautiful, or have simply looked for renovation inspiration, you’ve come across the work of Miles Redd, Lovett class of 1987. The A-list interior designer, known around the world for his unique brand of maximalism that marries both luxury and approachability, has been featured in numerous publications. His impact has been felt equally on a local scale; his line of wallpaper, furniture, and his book The Big Book of Chic resides in homes in the Lovett and Atlanta communities.

During his time as a Lovett, Redd had “some wonderful teachers, some that I loved dearly and still think about today,” he said. Despite residing in New York, Redd is still in touch with many of his classmates, some of whom he considers lifelong friends. Growing up did have its challenges, as Redd acknowledged: “The world is a melting pot, and Lovett was not perhaps the most diverse place… but it’s really so great to hear that it’s changing, embracing different identities and different ways of thinking.”

Redd thinks of Atlanta as the “New York of the south,” and “barely recognizes” the city of his childhood today. “The burgeoning entertainment industry, music and food scene has injected new life into Atlanta,” he said. “It’s such a beautiful city, beautiful weather, lovely people... I always loved it.” 

Despite his appreciation of ATL, Redd just couldn’t stay. “I like to say that every New Yorker is just born with a little chip inside of them,” he laughed, “and my chip went off at like, age three. I always knew I’d be in New York at some point in my life.” And so, as soon as he graduated, he headed north.

In New York, Redd studied at Parsons before transferring to NYU as a film major. He loved the fine art aspect of Parsons, but had always been “enamored with movies.” Yet, even as a film major, he remembers having always been great with the sets. “I could walk into any room and know where things went,” he said. ”It came very easily.” 

After graduation, a friend helped Redd get a job with antique dealer John Rosseli, who knew the decorator Bunny Williams. “It all just started to fit,” he said. “It felt right, I was comfortable, I liked the people, liked the sensibilities, and I liked the job.“ 

Once standing on his own two feet in the design field, Redd began making a name for himself. Redd worked as creative director for Oscar de la Renta Home from 2003-2013, and he was named one of Architectural Digest’s “AD100” (a list of “the world’s preeminent designers and architects) as well as Elle Decor’s “A-list of interior designers.” He’s featured in Phaidon Press’ Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century and Jennifer Boles’ Inspired Design: The 100 Most Important Designers of the Past 100 Years. 

He recalls one especially rewarding moment when his own townhouse was featured on the cover of The World of Interiors magazine. “That magazine had been sort of a tome for me for so long… It was incredibly rewarding to see my own apartment on the cover.”

Being as renowned as Redd now is, his days are busy. While his perfect day might include “waking up late and making breakfast, reading a book or having a bath, doing some exercise, watching a movie, and a cozy dinner,” his daily schedule is more reminiscent of the average workday: wake up at seven, meditate, check emails, and head to the office. One thing you won’t catch him doing as he works is drinking coffee; “I naturally have a lot of energy, coffee just amps me up too much.” But, he does enjoy a cup of tea--his favorite is “lemon verbena.”

In addition to his design work, Redd has published, The Big Book of Chic. While he has no plans to release another book soon, he agreed it might be a nice project to repeat at the end of his career. “It’s a very rewarding experience,” he said, “when you can take your career and kind of look back, take stock of what you’ve done.”

Designing his book was an involved process. “I was very particular about how I wanted it done, and very few publishing companies wanted to do it because there’s sort of a formula for how a decorating book should be.” The publishing company Assouline took him on and gave him the freedom he wanted. He was “thrilled about that and how it all came together.”

Flipping through the pages, it’s understandable why Redd’s commitment to personal integrity was so important when crafting a text to showcase his interiors. Redd is passionate, intentional, and uncompromisingly authentic in his work. “It’s a very personal process. It’s not everybody’s sensibility and it’s not everyone’s taste, but it’s mine. It’s my little mark on the world, if you will.” 

It’s clear why Redd stands out among designers; his rooms are often an eclectic mix of patterned wallpaper, upholstered doors, silver-lined ceilings, animal print, and art from every era. No detail is too small, and no item is out of place in his luxurious but lived-in interiors. According to Redd, the unifying theme of all his work is “really just things I love, put together in a considered way ” 

Pure intuition aside, Redd admits common trends in his work include the “juxtaposition of high and low” and “an element of fantasy.” He strives to emphasize “the tension of disparate objects--I love rough next to reflective, modern next to antique, black next to white. It’s what makes decorating interesting.”

In one interior, featured in Veranda magazine, Redd complements bright yellow lacquered walls with blues and greens in mismatched shades. Patterns and textures that would seem to objectively clash find harmony in his spaces; a marble bust, an east-Asian drummer, and a modern red coral sculpture sit on wooden tables to either side of a velvet sofa. In a dining room photographed for Belles Demeures, delicate floral wallpaper and blue taffeta drapes juxtapose with a geometric jewel-toned carpet and graphic black-and-white-upholstered chairs.

In short, he takes seemingly incongruous elements and puts them together harmoniously. The effect: exciting, warm, and wholly lovely. Redd pulls his audience into a space, creating what he calls a “symphony for the eyes from floor to ceiling.” 

Constantly working on unique interiors, Redd finds it difficult to pick a favorite project. “I always say the project you’re working on in the moment is the best. It is like trying to pick a favorite child, it is simply not done, you love them all equally.“

While he might not have a favorite project, he does have a favorite piece: “It’s a drawing from a friend, Leslie Hern--she actually also went to Lovett.” The drawing--a black panther--hangs in his living room. “I love and cherish it for so many reasons, one because it reminds me of her, but two because it’s just one of the most elegant things I’ve ever seen in my life.” 

His appreciation of elegance is fitting--part of a sensibility drawn from his southern roots and his cosmopolitan career. For Redd, creating beautiful spaces seems to be a celebration of self, of authenticity, and of a life worth living.

As for our own pursuit of lives worth living? If he had any advice, it would be to “do what comes naturally.” Redd says “everyone is born to do something, and your inner-voice knows--there’s a reason it's there, listen to it.”

The Lovett School is an independent, coeducational day school where children from Kindergarten through Grade 12 find the courage to explore and the drive to discover.

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