Rough Luxury? What’s behind the contradictory pairing of words that describes this new movement in design otherwise referred to as “Rough Luxe”? Described as half rough, half luxury, Wikipedia still has no entry for this salvage aesthetic – however Rough Luxe is evolving as the antithesis to minimalism and materialistic mores that have dominated an era.
Various cultural analysts have noted the psychological and behavioral effects the recession has had on society, triggering a renewed appreciation for basics and fundamentals. Could this be a contributing factor as to why this new movement has begun to redefine luxury … luxury as “anti-perfection” or as “an enriching personal experience”?
Coined by renowned interior designer Rabih Hage, Rough Luxe has been characterized as “a study of contradictions” and “attempt to reconcile the antique or the just plain old with the contemporary … the decrepit with the pristine.”(WSJ Magazine)
My favorite description comes from artist and designer Daniel Crook, who first introduced me to Rough Luxe. Crook explains it as “a way to honor the history of a space or an object – a way to live in homage to what came before you. ”
Having grown up in Saint Helena, California, Crook’s art and soulful personal style both exude an organic yet luxurious affluence that is so indicative of Napa Valley living. I was curious to catch up with the young designer to ask him about his influences, mentors and Rough Luxe design advice.
How did you actually get involved in interior design?
I have always had an obsession with changing spaces around, whether it was my room or the living room. Also growing up without financial wealth in a very wealthy town and having little access to the things I saw in friends homes constantly inspired me to re-invent and re-create my own.
It wasn’t however until I discovered the Ehlers Collective – a property that belongs to two fine artists, Melissa and Mercedes Baker, as well as Pat Fiestle, (who manages the property), when my eyes opened to the world of found materials. They taught me the core value of Rough Luxe design, “If you can’t afford to buy it, build it yourself.” The sisters also put brushes back into my hands and reinvigorated a creativity that had long been killed by my high school art teacher.
It was not long after I reclaimed my power as an artist that I discovered Erin Martin – my soon to be mentor and friend who opened a showroom and a firm right in my tiny hometown of Saint Helena. I walked into the showroom dewy eyed and ecstatic to meet another great friend and mentor, Kendall Ermshire. From that point on, the Baker Sisters, Kendall and Erin all inspired and taught me everything I know.
Why do you think this design aesthetic is gaining so much popularity? What kind of people are drawn to this lifestyle?
The clients I have worked with through Erin Martin Design and the Ehlers Collective have been varied beyond belief. You get the minimalists, the hoarders and everything in between. I truly feel that there is an attraction to it right now that draws from the need for something real.
Knowing you and where you are from, I feel like you naturally embody this emerging design style. What inspires your own aesthetic, mood, life theme?
To be honest, I have a love for decay. I have always had a fixation with buildings that wore their age, objects that had been neglected or spaces that have been forgotten. It’s a feeling that I try to capture in all my art – a mood or a moment in time. I just want people to remember more.
Photo Credit: Homepage thumbnail of Rough Luxe Design Book curated by Kahi Lee.