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With a bold palette and love of dynamic patterns, Michel Smith Boyd is a designer who knows how to craft unforgettable interiors. Since launching his namesake firm 15 years ago, his work has been featured in Vogue, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Traditional Home, House Beautiful, and more, and he was also the star of Bravo’s Buying It Blind. Not content to stop at print and TV, Michel’s also been busy debuting licensed collections and a bespoke rug brand, as well.

We spoke with the design impresario about everything from his creative collaborations to his Southern upbringing and his favorite style icons. See what he had to say below, and don’t miss out on his collection of Chairish favorites as well.

Michel Smith Boyd
Michel Smith Boyd

First and foremost, how would you describe your personal style? How does it come into play in the projects you work on?

My personal style is ever evolving. I literally cringe at some of the past choices I made. My goal is to fully communicate whatever my intended narrative is, with fewer things — that’s wardrobe AND interiors.  

How did growing up in Louisiana impact your love for interiors? What elements of Southern style would you say have stuck with you the most?

Louisiana is the capital of “extra.” We call it lagniappe! I credit my Southern maximalist mother for my becoming a designer. Watching how much love she infused into each room of our home is what has stuck with me the most. I’m just as intentional with each of our clients.  

You founded your firm in 2006 and have grown from a single-man operation to a team of eight. What has that evolution been like over the years?

The evolution has been tough as hell but enlightening and incredibly rewarding. My team only grew out of necessity. I legitimately intend to explore as many creative paths as I can do well, which requires me to relinquish a little control daily, but it also allows me to focus all my energy on the task at hand. That’s a luxury, but it’s how it should be. 

You work on both residential and commercial projects… tell us a bit about the differences in terms of designing for each. Do you have a preference for one over the other?

I live for a residential project! I absolutely enjoy connecting with a family and deep diving into all the possibilities for the way they live at home — and creating new standards beyond. Most of my commercial projects have been preceded by a residential one, even for the same client. I am dying to take on a hotel project though, as I believe they truly inform the way we live at home.

Michel Smith Boyd

Tell us a bit about some of your design collaborations and licensed collections. How did they come about?

Design collaborations are hard but fulfilling work. The business behind the venture usually takes precedence over the creative lure, thereby presenting an opportunity to grow. I’ve learned so much about my own point of view, which led to developing my own criteria for partnering and even how to balance my personal aesthetic with the brand being represented. Thus far I’ve been approached by the brands I’ve collaborated with, but recently I’m feeling more empowered to initiate my own partnerships. 

You’ve been a contributor to shows like House Hunters on HGTV and Buying It Blind on Bravo. What’s something that would surprise people about the design process on TV?

 I think people would be shocked to know how much time it actually takes to film just one episode. We filmed a design meeting for six hours, then voiceovers, only to have 50 seconds make the cut. My Emmy is definitely on the cutting room floor. 

What do you find most compelling about Chairish?

I love that Chairish reconnects me to the romance of interior design. Every time I browse for one thing, I fall down the rabbit hole. 

Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?

Any casegood from Charlotte Perriand

What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?

I love this Tom Dixon Swirl Side Table; this Leo Handmade Sculptural Pedestal Bowl; and these Hollywood Regency Gold Bar Chairs.

Some Design Favorites…

Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:

Wallcoverings, always. 

Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:”

Collages

Favorite iconic piece of vintage design: 

Non-Conformist Chair, Eileen Grey

Favorite paint color: 

Tricorn Black, Sherwin Williams

Favorite piece of decor in your home:

My vintage MasterCraft dining table

Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration: 

Basquiat

Favorite style icon: 

Yves Saint Laurent

Design destination every creative should visit at least once: 

Paris! It’s indulgent, answers all your questions, and satisfies your creative appetite.

Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:

“Winners go with what they have, losers wait on perfection.”

Some Lifestyle Favorites…

Favorite vacation destination (the next time travel becomes an option): 

Florence

Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling: 

Mister C, Beverly Hills

Favorite restaurant: 

Cipriani

Favorite small museum: 

MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta)

Favorite podcast: 

Optimal Living Daily

Favorite Instagram accounts to follow: 

@harvey.b.hrvi, @lynetteyiadomboakye

Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:

To receive, an overpriced candle — that way I don’t have to buy it myself. To give, whatever my latest obsession is.

Favorite flower: 

A tie between peonies and dahlias

Favorite adult beverage: 

Cabernet

Favorite way to unwind at home: 

Phone on DND, music on RnB

Favorite entertaining essential: 

A vintage bar cart

All photos by Allen Cooley

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June 7, 2021

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