Interview

The Faces Behind the Brand an exclusive interview with Bernice Kelly, design director of Anthropologie homes

An interview at Anthropologie Homes

In 1992, Anthropologie opened its first retail store. Since then, the company has grown to more than 200 stores worldwide.

At their beginning, Anthropologie wanted to build a lifestyle brand with a certain customer in mind: an individualistic, educated, creative shopper with a distinct sense of adventure. Now, as one of the few renowned global consumer brands like Free People and Urban Outfitters, the self-described “boho chic,” Anthropologie now informs women’s apparel, accessories, home décor, and more.

But they haven’t stopped there. At the end of March, a new store roughly three times the size of other retail stores will open at Bedford Square in Westport, CT. The new location offers a design center, more furniture, and a greater selection in home décor accessories.

On April 7th, a second store will open on Broadway, in Manhattan’s financial district.

I interviewed Bernice Kelly, Design Director at Anthropologie Homes, for insight into the behind-the-scenes creative process.  She gave me some awesome tips on stylish ways to re-imagine your home.

What is the process for curating home décor additions? Your marketing team tells me that you create opportunities for artists to collaborate on exclusive collections.

Our home décor offering is tailored to our customer. To ensure we always delight her, we design a large portion of items ourselves, while also traveling the world to find exciting artists and products.

What inspires your design team? Are new offerings tied to seasonal themes?

Inspiration is everywhere. Each season, we begin with a wish list of ideas, things that have been brewing or have popped into our minds. We do work with themes, but they are always punctuated with these incubated ideas.

How do art and fashion trends influence home décor items? Can you explain the subtle French influence on home décor items?

Art and home décor go hand in hand. A particular artwork can often spark a whole capsule or trend, particularly through its colors. Color is such an emotive element to use in a brand; it lays the groundwork. Our customer is well traveled and loves all things European, particularly French. She knows style when she sees it. We try and make our product evocative of something she may have seen on those travels, whether that’s a latte bowl, a type of wallpaper (like our bird sanctuary style) or the tiniest wink, like our idiom journal, embossed with a simple “je ne sais quoi.”

What is your buyer’s typical professional background?

Our buyers come from many backgrounds, but each has a strong creative bent. They are always aiming to keep their look fresh, varied, and evolving.

Color is a big theme in your décor section. What is the design process like?

We play with the use of color in two ways: by simpler bases on which the customer can create numerous looks, and by using multicolor patterns that become statements in themselves. We believe we should all have room for both in our lives!

What are this season’s signature colors?

Pink continues to be a standout, but in a sophisticated way. We like using diffused colors, like soft pinks and blushes. Both are so evocative of cosmetics palettes, especially with a hint of shine and luster. They look particularly good with gold and brushed gold. Our customers also love classic blues – currently with a hint of periwinkle.

What role do travel, fashion, and art play in inspiring your designers?

The team buyers and designers work as a tightly knit collective, constantly bouncing ideas off of each other to create not only a perfect balance, but a breadth of choices.

They are often most inspired by traveling, but also by visits to exhibitions and galleries. Serendipity also plays a big role; a vacation trip can lead them to discover things they never imagined, and those experiences are great to share with the team upon returning. The team buyers and designers work as a tightly knit collective, constantly bouncing ideas off of each other to create not only a perfect balance, but a breadth of choices.

Whenever either department is on a sourcing or development trip, we often include a few days for finding inspiration, like in flea markets or local museums –we’ve camped out at a festival, been in hot air balloons, and once we even went down salt mines in Poland! That’s when the ideas flow; it’s a fantastic collaborative experience.

What’s your favorite item in home decor? What are the customer favorites?

Our strata dinnerware is by far one of my favorites. It has an understated organic elegance with its marbling and gold tipping. It’s quickly become a customer favorite, too.

Are your dishes or glasses painted? How and by whom?

Connecting allows us to achieve the best product.

Our in-house design team creates exquisite shapes and artwork, and our makers come from all over the world. We like to think of them as the best artistic partners to execute our vision. We communicate with them daily regarding their progress or challenges they may have. Connecting allows us to achieve the best product. We visit them every year to see if something new and exciting in their worlds can impact ours.

Can you offer tips on accessorizing both a child’s room and a family room?

Family rooms should be fun, relaxed places, but that does not mean sacrificing style

For a child’s room, I would emphasize functionality. If it’s functional, you can make it fun! We have some great storage options, ranging from our playtime canvas bags to our rainbow tufts baskets. We also have books and easy-access bookcases for little hands. The experience of having real books for story time will never get old.

Family rooms should be fun, relaxed places, but that does not mean sacrificing style. Great artwork can really set the tone. Use a large-scale piece for boldness, or a gallery wall of mixed frames and ever-changing art for a more holistic approach.

Lisa Stahl

Lisa Stahl, a native New Yorker, has authored many articles that graced the cover pages of magazines and websites. She’s the author of two distance-learning courses on fashion and contributed substantial research and content on politics and foreign policy to three books by a political analyst and adviser to Hillary Clinton.  Lisa’s achievements include an MA in English with honors from Columbia University.
She also studied piano at Juilliard.

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