Tuesday, March 5, 2013

district of chic: michael hampton

Michael Hampton is an artist in every sense of the word.  Interior designer, artist and watercolor enthusiast, Hampton is an inspiration to those of us in the District who enjoy fine beauty and history.

ICDC had the pleasure of chatting with Hampton recently, about his room in the DC Design House and his design philosophy. 

It was refreshing to hear that Hampton believes "DC is evolving.  We're getting past the sometimes 'conservative' reputation this town has to make it more current and modern.  Everywhere I look there are new galleries, restaurants and design stores opening up.  It's an exciting time to be in DC."

A native of California and a lover of Sante Fe (his 'spiritual home'), Hampton first arrived in the District as Thomas Pheasant's Senior Designer almost a decade ago.  He has since established his own firm.

How does Hampton approach his design projects?  His design process varies by client and project, but he first determines how a client lives, then what their tastes are and finally begins creating the design concepts through sketching.  Yes, Hampton creates his own renderings.  Here are a few:

Textiles play a key role in Hampton's design process.  They inspire him.  He favors Cowtan & Tout, Kerry Joyce, Rogers and Goffigon and Sandra Jordan (whose Prima Alpaca fabric will be used in the 2013 DC Design House). 

His other inspiration?  Neoclassical European and English architecture, especially of the 17th and 18th centuries.  These are the subjects of Hampton's watercolors, true works of art:

Hampton also celebrates 1stDibs - "I don't know how we did without it.."

But he does note that the only downside to the internet and its impact on interior design is that a computer can never take the place of seeing and touching a piece - the finish of an antique or texture of a fabric - in person. 

Hampton's advice for ICDC readers?  "Pay attention to what you are drawn to."  Hampton would rather have one great piece in an entire room than one full of average "stuff."  And he urges, "Don't be afraid to mix, and buy things that you truly love."

Hampton's favorite project was for his first private client, who allows creative freedom and collaborates.  She pushed Hampton to look at pieces he wouldn't normally select on his own - which means that his work is constantly evolving:



How did Hampton begin drawing his own design renderings?  His first job out of school was for Steven Volpe.  Volpe needed renderings and Hampton had a few from his projects in school.  One turned out to include a pair of chairs designed by Volpe himself.  The job turned into a decade-long tenure, with one of the country's foremost designers.

Hampton's favorite piece of furniture?  A large Corinthian capital from the Old Caesar's Palace, which he's moved everywhere.  He also loves a Swedish mahogany secretary, which serves as a mini office where Hampton can hide all manner of things in its drawers.

In this year's Design House, Hampton will decorate the upstairs sitting room.  Its color scheme is based in creams, warm greys and soft yellows, and promises to be one of the calmest but most beguiling and luxurious rooms in the house.  Hampton will use faux bois wallpaper (cut into alternating squares), alpaca curtains with a geometric patterned tape trim on the lead edges and a rectangular double chaise longue in the center of the room.

Make sure you visit Hampton's room in the DC Design House in April!

images from www.michaelhamptondesign.com

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