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Style & The City
Kate Abney, Stephanie Davis Smith and Elizabeth Schulte Roth | Photo: Sarah Dorio | February 26, 2014
A trio of Atlanta trendsetters reveal their top inspirations, possessions and obsessions.
Perhaps it’s interior designer Traci Rhoads’ suburban Atlantan upbringing that caused her to pine for a chichi urban lifestyle in an eclectic loft in Midtown—far from the traditional trappings of a McMansion in Marietta. It might also be why she’s in heaven right now, commuting back and forth to Manhattan to complete two high-rise apartment projects. Whatever the motivation, this fiery Southern lady has brought a little of that bright-lights, big-city feel to her own art-filled corner space overlooking Ponce City Market as well as her clients’ abodes. Notorious for not sticking to one style genre, the design dynamo has been working in Atlanta for 20 years, predominantly crafting interiors for high-end country clubs. She ventured out on her own about four years ago and has rarely had a moment to breathe since. When she’s not in town creating a room for the ASO Decorators Showhouse (debuting next month!), she’s flitting off to projects in the toniest parts of the country, including Aspen, The Hamptons, Boston, Long Island and, recently, a 15,000-square-foot project in Greenwich, Conn. We caught her just before she headed to Mexico to source pieces for a client, and asked her what’s inspiring her now.
Jeffrey Bruce Baker
With requests for architecture, interior and furniture design reaching an all-time high, jack-of-all-trades Jeffrey Bruce Baker realized he needed a more conspicuous place to hang his hat. The solution? His brand-new Buckhead studio: a Zen-like showplace for abstract art by Jean Glenn, Uzbekistani ikat pillows, rich sapele furniture, Lance Woven leather benches, antique Oushak rugs, ikebana orchids and espresso served in sleek vintage cups. “I wanted my office to feel like a gallery, with an ever-evolving mix of interesting components,” he explains. A former ballet dancer, the career architect cut his teeth on commercial projects at Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart—an experience that quickly converted the onetime traditionalist to a contemporary point of view. These days, his eponymous firm is a go-to for upscale restaurants (from Campagnolo to Vino Venue) as well as slick Buckhead high-rises (think The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Atlanta, Buckhead), where he’s known for crafting customized, people-focused environments with mathematical precision. Baker’s clients are a lucky lot, typically treated to built-ins, bespoke furniture and impressive details such as cantilevered glass staircases, soaring stucco terraces and rooftop soaking pools. Just ask Manhattan builder (and Clodagh contemporary) Richard Wise, who recently tapped the designer to craft his Lavista Park residence—a job Baker juggles between signature furniture launches and ADAC lectures.
Brian Patrick Flynn
It might surprise you that this fast-talking designer is actually a slow and steady guy—but it definitely explains his meteoric rise to success.In 2010, after spending years in production at Turner Broadcasting, he noticed a design industry in the economic dumps that was desperate for original content. So he launched a production company, Flynnside Out, that could create beautiful spaces and offer editorial value for the brand. With clients like Scripps Network Interactive, he executive produces digital series such as HGTV Dream Home as well as hosts the network’s Holiday House on the big screen. In fact, it was while he was working on the HGTV reality series Design Star in L.A. that he met guest judge Kris Jenner as the students on the show competed to design four of her offices. Later, Flynn and his assistant finished the design of her Kardashian-Jenner business lair in only 72 hours. “I know how to install materials that are easy but not cheap,” he explains. He also makes it appear more like a shelter magazine than a design show, and looks to former Atlantan Miles Redd for inspiration, loving “the way he uses color and mixes styles with no expiration date.” Up next? He’s partnering with AmericasMart to create spaces and produce editorial for the showrooms; produces and stars in a new hgtv.com series Spring House; collaborates with online shopping site hayseed.com; designs the office of former Atlantan and Entertainment Tonight host Rob Marciano and other residential clients; and he recently remodeled his new Georgia mountain home in three weeks, which he’s capturing using Polaroids on his blog. While projects are coming to Flynn at warp speed, he’s demonstrating slow and steady always wins the race.
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