If there is one thing I have always been passionate about it’s fashion. However, one things I always say is that fashion for me is not just in clothes. Fashion is in food, music, architecture, and of course interior design. I recently got the chance to chat with design expert Kenn Gray about his career, how he got to where he is today, his inspirations, and his new award nomination.
Q. Who is Kenn Gray?
Q. What inspired you to pursue a creative career?
A. I have always been inspired by fashion. In fact, I went to college in Los Angeles at Otis/Parsons for fashion design. I never did that as a career and quickly moved into the home design space, but have always found influence in fashion.
Q. Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you realized interior design was your calling?
A. I started my first company in 1991 called ‘Paint the Town,’ which was a decorative painting and mural company. My first clients were Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. I was working with their designer and just knew that I could take farther what I was already doing and thus Kenn Gray Home was born.
Q. Did modeling have any impact on your career choice?
A. Modeling for so many years, I met some amazing people and was obviously around great design, both in the fashion world and interiors. Everything we do throughout our lives plays a role in shaping us, our choices, and our desires from a career standpoint. My experiences in the modeling world certainly played a large part!
Q. You’ve lived in New York, Paris, Los Angeles, and Boston. What kind of influence do you think those cities have had on your style?
A. Oh heavens, immense influence! I believe traveling is the greatest part of ones culturing themselves and growing in their ideas and motivations. I took just as much as I gave from each of the wonderful places I have lived and each has created inspirations and influence that follows me every day in my career. I’ve also had the huge opportunity to star on a Travel Channel TV show, which was amazing because I was able to travel even more and really submerse myself in many different cultures and ways of life.
Q. You’ve worked for countless non-profits, including 2 that you founded yourself, one of which being, Boston KIDSmART, an organization working to bring arts to underserved youth. Do you have any personal experiences that made you want to help these organizations and give back to the communities they assist?
A. Absolutely. I grew up in such a wonderful, but very small town in Mississippi, and, while it was an amazing place to be raised, I felt that the opportunity for even me there was very limited. I was very fortunate to have supportive parents and teachers but still felt lacking in creative opportunity and I always couldn’t help but think, ‘what about all those folks who didn’t have such support?’ I have always tried to be a servant leader in my community, and this is no exception. In fact, I just started another organization in the Coachella Valley called Mod AD (Modern Art & Design) which is a group that hosts events each season to feature those artisans who might not otherwise have a platform of exposure.
Q. As a professional artist and designer, what advice do you have for students desiring a creative career similar to yours?
A. Best question yet! I speak to a lot of youth and groups about topics such as this and my answer is clear. I tell them to always be true to your creative desires and talents but no matter what, make sure to educate yourself in the business. It is a common mistake among creatives and in this day and age, it is imperative to be successful and competitive in the creative industry.
Q. You’ve recently moved to Palm Springs to further your career. What about that area inspires you?
A. Well, I have always been drawn to the modern and mid century style architecture, and when we were looking to make a move we wanted to be close to Los Angeles for our model/actor son so Palm Springs was the perfect choice! We love it here and love the creative spirit of the people. Always inspiring!
Q. Do you have a favorite home or environment that you’ve worked on?
A. I actually always love working on my own homes. For me they are my calling card. I love making them represent not only who I am as a designer, but who my family is and how we live. This translates to my clients and they then understand my desire to make their homes representative of who they are. A lot of designers swoop in and make a person’s home what they think it should be rather than listening and paying attention to what the client’s needs are. Not me. I am a people person and a great listener and see it as my job to create amazing spaces that my clients can live within comfortably and with great pride.
Q. Who would your dream client be? Why?
A. Well, since I am so inspired by fashion, I would say that someone like fashion icon, Iris Apfel, who is 95-years-old but has no fear of fashion, design or color. I know she and I would have an absolutely amazing time working together and be able to insert both of our experiences (her much more than me, of course…she’s 95!) into the project and come out laughing about the fabulousness of it all!
Q. Who are your inspirations when it comes to your work, whether it’s traditional art or interior design?
A. I am inspired by a lot of people, most notably historical architects like Eickler and Wright, but I am also very keen on todays pop culture icons and taste makers like Madonna or Anna Wintour and even people pushing the boundaries like Lady Gaga and Janelle Monet. The bottom line of who I am is fairly simple, although seemingly complicated… I’m a hard working husband, father, son and creator of stylish moments. I love people and I love connecting. I’m obsessed with all things gorgeous and I strive to have them in my life and the lives of people I come in contact with. I am a positive and compassionate person with a penchant for giving back and making things better. I love life and I love to see other people loving theirs as well and anyway I can help with that is magic to me. : ) To see more, visit my website www.kenngrayhome.com and I am so excited to announce that I have been nominated for the Interior Design Blog Awards this year so please go and vote for me at here! Voting closes September 8! Make sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Houzz.com @kenngrayhome