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Abracadabra: Baradaran!by Andrew Myers | magazine | July 9, 2012
Imagine a designer’s alchemical magic is that of a hostess-with-the-mostest giving the Greatest Cocktail Party Ev-ah. She sets the stage, she draws you out, she makes you feel your wittiest and prettiest.
Such is how the wallpaper rolls with Beverly Hills-based designer Natasha Baradaran. Her point of decorative view might rest on the classical pillars of European architecture and design. Baradaran is a master at echoing the elegance of pre- and post-Islamic architecture in Persia, with its profusion of geometric form, repetition and richly decorated surfaces while simultaneously reflecting a casual and luxuriously comfortable California. All are part of the cultural and geographical composite of the 39-year-old designer, who was born and raised in Brentwood, spent a significant part of her childhood in Italy, and is of Persian-Jewish descent.
But Baradaran is as disinclined to adopt a single, signature, cookie-cutter style as she is to impose it on her clients. Rather, she seeks to use her tripartite design prism to focus on—and highlight—what makes each patron unique, interests and idiosyncrasies pushed to the fore. “I’m not interested in imposing a ‘look’ or a mandate or in telling anybody how to do everything,” says the designer (who is nonetheless capable of telling anybody anything in four languages: Farsi, Italian, Spanish and English). “What is most important are sound basics, good spaces, an interesting platform, and then the client’s life experiences, travels and passions. I bring this out in people.”
Call it client whispering. Her philosophy has culled calls from clients the world over, many of them looking for a customized fillip, a twist, the unexpected. Take, for example, the beachfront Asian contemporary manse in Montecito for a young British financier and polo player; a baroque palazzo on Lake Como that will soon house a careful architectural restoration alongside Italian modern furniture and an Italian socialite; or, for a Hollywood heavy hitter, a back-to-tomorrow house designed to conjure the future and avant-garde as they would have appeared in the 1930s. “Talk about turning Hollywood Regency on its head,” says Baradaran, who recently started the design phase of Kate Hudson’s new pad on a double lot in Pacific Palisades as well.
Or consider the designer’s own home: a 1940s ranch-style house up in Coldwater Canyon, which she and her husband, a real estate attorney, bought more than 10 years ago, and to which they added a master suite and terrace four years ago.
Like most designers, Baradaran uses her home as “an experimenting studio”; unlike most designers, she must contend and compromise with her husband and youngest of two daughters, both of whom have their own aesthetics and aren’t afraid to use them. “My youngest daughter wanted to have her birthday at the Pacific Design Center,” she laughs.
Familial collaborations aside, Baradaran compares the rooms to the proverbial little black dress, which must be excellent in line, proportion and functionality—the versatile backdrop for “the accessories, which are what really makes it,” she says. In terms of her interiors, Baradaran points to favorite adornments: the bronze and agate sconces in the living room; the pair of Egyptian pendant lamps, bought on a recent trip to London, in the master bedroom; and two prints by Robert Rauschenberg, one in the living room and one in the entryway, hanging over a custom leather-upholstered chest with antique nailheads by the Culver City-based upholsterer Roger Chopinet.
As far as a room that sums up what she calls her “gypset” (gypsy and jet-set) haute globe-trotting predisposition? The family room, with its old Oushak rug (a gift from her parents), Italian steel-base chair from the 1970s, child-sized antique Portuguese chair, accessories bought in Israel and large photograph of the Adriatic Sea taken by Baradaran on a family vacation last summer. “The room really reflects us as a family,” she says.
But perhaps her manner for unifying space is most evident in the dining room. The lines, color and sheen of the arboreal wall mural (inspired by antique Chinese wallpaper Baradaran found in London years ago) are complemented by the Chinese cloud formations carved into the console, which are echoed in the top of the custom dining room table, covered in a crackled linen fabric then lacquered. From there, the decorative through-line stretches to the living room, with its two-toned hammered copper stools by Robert Kuo, and onto the bedroom’s patterned curtains, all the way to the garden stools on the patio adjacent to the family room. “I really believe in the continuity of spaces—the combination of many colors, many periods of design—but a continuation of style or line,” says Baradaran, who later this year will launch a “capsule line” of furniture, six to eight pieces she describes as both “sculptural and architectural.”
That’s some magic.