Updated: Nov 10, 2020
By Bart Boehlert
Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, the husband and wife team behind the Carrier and Company decorating firm, have mastered the art of creating chic interiors that calmly breathe with a sense of space and a harmonious mix of colors, shapes and textures. Their stylish rooms are both comfortable and beautiful, and have attracted a star-studded list of clients including Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Condé Nast Artistic Director Anna Wintour, actress Jessica Chastain, fashion designer Jason Wu and photographer Annie Leibovitz. In fact the duo have worked for Anna Wintour for almost 20 years on her homes and offices, leading to her to observe, “We often joke that Jesse and Mara are like contributing editors to my own private magazine. Both at Vogue and at home, they always bring a grand vision to the table -- along with invaluable expertise and an impeccable eye.”
Mara and Jesse met as interior design students at the Fashion Institute of Technology; she grew up in Westchester and he hailed from Canastota in upstate New York. The couple married in 2002 and live with their two children on the Upper East Side and upstate in Duchess County. In 2005 the designers opened their own company, which quickly rose to prominence on Architectural Digest’s top AD100 list and Elle Decor’s A-List, and now employs a staff of ten (this writer’s nephew works for the firm). Vendome Press published a book of their work in 2015, and today the designers also create furniture, wall coverings and fabrics, and lighting collections.
As luxe mix masters, the partners are expert at combining different colors, styles and textures for sophisticated results, like pairing in Anna Wintour’s Vogue office a sleek, angular table designed by modernist architect Alan Buchsbaum with rounded, industrial-looking, vintage-style galvanized chairs by Tolix. The balance comes from the two designers, since Jesse might favor a plainer, more textural approach and Mara may want to polish things up and add glamour. “It’s a compromise,” says Mara. “It’s not one note because there are two notes.” “We like a home to feel not ‘decorated,’” adds Jesse. “We like it to look collected, as if it has evolved over time. Our goal is to create homes that have a timeless ease.”
Here Carrier and Company share their design tips and how to decorate with their furniture, wall coverings and fabrics, and lighting collections.
Do layer different finishes, textiles and scales. Having multiple layers adds visual texture to a room. Notice the effect of different textiles and finishes, and vary them; if one thing has a high sheen, don’t do everything in a high sheen.
Do scale things out in space. Be sure to measure carefully so that pieces are not over-scaled and go together. Don’t be impulsive. Lay out all the materials and live with it to make sure that it works.
Similarly, when planning, do make sure your scheme is tight, and then experiment with accents of color or pattern.
Do use artwork. We like artwork and incorporate a lot of it.
Don’t fall for trends; for instance a few years ago everyone had millennial pink velvet sofas and rose gold accents. You don’t want to be tethered to that. Use small doses of trend.
Don’t get everything from one source or collection like a suite of furniture where everything matches - “a room in a box.” Make sure there is variety.
Case in point, our goal was to not create one matching set of furniture. Again, we wanted a collected nature of an interior so there are a variety of pieces that reflect what we like. The collection is a mix inspired by different styles so as not to seem like it’s one suite. It looks like high-end vintage furniture scaled up for comfort and an American lifestyle.
We’re inspired by the history and charm upstate in Duchess County where we spend time. There’s an irregularity in nature we find beautiful, so we translated that into this collection. The fabrics have a handmade look and an organic quality, and we designed an array from contemporary stripes to traditional florals. Our unconscious formula is to layer a variety so if we use a bold pattern on a curtain or a wallpaper, then the upholstery is quieter. Or sometimes we reverse it.
Lighting offers you the most ability to create atmosphere. We created two families of lighting - one more glamorous, pretty, and sparkly, while the other is more structured, bold and architectural. We treat lighting as a design element or strong accent, almost like jewelry or sculpture. These are statement pieces to use to project ambiance and mood and set the tone in a room.
315 East 91 Street 5 Floor South New York, NY 10128 (212) 706-1025