RYAN WHITE: Creating a symphony and a covetable lifestyle through design
Ryan White established Ryan White Designs in 2012. An almost accidental designer, his first project was the very successful overhaul of a friend’s Malibu beach house. 5 Years later, he is known for creating a lifestyle for his clients.
I make contact with this versatile designer and we chat about his style, travels and photography.
Q: You have no formal education - everything you know is just good genes and good taste?
RW: Pretty much. I think half of it is growing up in Colorado and Montana, as far as my Americana vibe, my want and my need to have things feel comfortable and well-rounded. And then the other half of my education would be living in New York for the better half of younger years, from 19 to 27. I was a model, so I was hanging around groups like the Ralph Lauren’s and the Tom Ford’s, these people that, now when I look back, were very instrumental in my tastes.
Q: How would you describe your taste?
RW: I like to think of my design as well-travelled I like homes to feel cultivated. I like to go with the model of “let’s really see what the house is giving us before we do anything.”
Q: You mentioned on your blog that fashion dictates interiors but in this specific post, that interiors are dictating fashion. Which interior designers are currently dictating what’s happening in the world around us?
RW: Kelly Wearstler is someone who’s always very bold and probably a little bit ahead of the curve. She is the one who stands out the most as far as being a little bit more risk-taking and taking it to the next level. And then fashion lines might kind of look at her work and be able to take some kind of inspiration from anything that she’s doing at the moment.
Q: What is your favourite destination?
RW: I love Spain. I get a lot of inspiration there in terms of style and design.
Q: And you can actually have a relaxing holiday without constantly thinking about work?
RW: Yes, absolutely. I’m a believer in work hard, play hard. And play hard to me is shutting off and allowing yourself to decompress. So, I’m not someone who’s walking around a foreign city constantly trying to look at inspiration. I just allow it to hit me naturally because I do believe that when it happens in that way it’s much more authentic and probably something I would actually use down the road cause it’s not so forced.
Some of the best inspiration comes when you are kind of shut-off and not really looking for it.
- Ryan White
Q: You have a massive following on Instagram. Tell me about your photography
RW: I think it’s something I’d love to do eventually. I really set up my blog as a landing page, for if someone wants to really understand me in a fashion sense or they want to understand me in a travel sense or design. I don’t think of myself as just a designer.
I really do think of myself as someone who understands a certain lifestyle and wants to be able to give that to my clients in a lot of different ways.
I don’t know where this world is going to take me one day. I might decide that I want to go more into fashion versus interiors or move more into photography. Photography is just another creative outlet that allows me to kind of escape. I never really go searching for a shoot. I’m not running around with crazy amazing cameras and really trying to set something up. Just wherever I’m at, at that moment, if I see something that captures my eye I would say “You know what, I would love to have that in my house in a large-scale format.” I consider myself a hobbyist when it comes to photography but I do know what I like. I think it’s authentic and I think that’s what matters in any sort of art or artistic kind of venture.
Q: A lot of designers find it really difficult to create a lifestyle for themselves and to design their own home in a specific way, but that’s ultimately how you started. Tell me about the style you have in your own house.
RW: It’s warm and inviting but has these old bones. Like old, massive stained glass windows in the living room, with a very large baby grand piano that sits in the middle of all that. The house has a lot of history and character to it. We’re constantly entertaining, we’re constantly having people over and I think that’s another reason why my clients hire me. They want that kind of lifestyle for themselves. So, I’m not typically doing someone’s home just to do it and say, “see you later”.
I really am creating a lifestyle and almost teaching them how to live that lifestyle and entertain in that lifestyle.
Q: You mentioned that the first project that you did, the clients said that they didn’t want to see anything until you’re done. Do you prefer project like that or do you prefer to go step by step with the client?
RW: When it comes to client’s, I’m really out to seek someone who understands that this is a way that you can live. It’s a beautiful way, but again you have to allow me to do my work, and my team to do the work in order for us to get it done in the timely fashion. At the end of the day it saves them money because I’m not toting them around for the next 2 years. We get it done in 6-8 months and then they have a beautiful lifestyle and they can start enjoying it you know.
Q: What is the first thing you do when you get a new brief?
RW: I sit in the house by myself for a period of time and I tell them to leave! I have no one around me. I walk through the house, I walk through every room. Whether it’s a home that we’re completely gutting - or no matter what it is - I do tend to spend some alone time in the home. I think that’s crucial because when you meet with the client they have their ideas, you’re throwing out ideas, your assistants might throw out ideas and it’s a lot to take in at one time. Then, I like to go back in, marinade on everything that’s been talked about and really decide my point of view, my plan of attack, from that little bit of meditation by myself.
Q: What can’t you live without?
RW: Oh…my dogs! My two white labs. They are part of our lifestyle too. People come to our house and adore the fact that we have these two big floppy animals that are part of us. We’re not that type of family that cages them up when people are at home. We want them to be around us and they’re so easy and well behaved because of that. So yeah, I couldn’t live without my puppies.
Q: What are the must-have elements in a room?
RW: I don’t like rooms to feel like one note. So, I’m not a big believer in walking into a room and seeing every sofa and every chair and everything is all white! That’s not a fun vibe to me. That feels like – one note. I like you to be able to walk into a room and it feels like a whole symphony. And it’s almost like you’re reading a sheet of music or you’re reading something that allows your mind and your eyes to just naturally jump around in a really beautiful way. That has to do a lot with adding certain textures and different elements, whether it’s photography or your paintings, and not making it so sterile and one kind of note.