The Seattle-based designer, known for embracing elegance, art, and eclecticism, showcases a decade’s worth of projects.
By Rachel Gallaher
Images by Haris Kenjar
A little over a decade ago Brian Paquette launched his eponymous design studio, bursting into the world of interiors with a punk rock background, a profound love of art, and a refreshingly unique point of view.
His work is hard to define—a mix of classics infused with artful details and quirky additions would be somewhat of a start—but it’s always completely recognizable as very Brian Paquette.
Earlier this month, the designer released his first book, At Home, through Gibbs Smith, featuring photographs by his longtime collaborator Haris Kenjar. For Paquette, who has also designed fabric, wallpaper through Studio Four NYC, and furniture for Lawson Fenning, interior design isn’t just about choosing furniture and putting it in place—it’s creating an active, changing space that reflects the people who live in it and serves as an extension of their lives.
Paquette transformed this former firehouse in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood in a home for a busy, often-traveling client.
“Books are quite a long project, so it’s actually been a little over two years since Gibbs Smith reached out to me about the project,” he says. “I was blown away and a little shy at first about the whole thing, but I think of this book as just a chapter in our work’s history and it felt like a good rounding out of about five years’ worth of work that we shot. It's a little weird to be releasing it during the pandemic as I wanted to do a book tour right when it came out, but this will have to wait for the fall, and I can't wait to see everyone.”
Throughout the pages of At Home, Paquette talks about the influence of art on his work, the process of putting together a room (a set of rooms, an entire home), and reveals the warmth and depth of his character with touching anecdotes: his mother’s favorite scent is that of burning leaves, designer-client relationships turned into deep and lasting friendships, text messages from homeowners about their favorite rooms. From cozy bedrooms layered in texture and material to art-laden living rooms held up by clean, classic lines, all of the homes presented in this work are livable, useable, and multi-dimensional. Inspiration abounds.
Walls upholstered in grass cloth give this TV room extra texture and dimension.
But it takes time to get to this point in one’s career. All designers have styles that shape-shift and evolve as they grow in their practices, and Paquette is no exception.
“I think like a lot of designers at the start you are trying to make your creative voice known even if it doesn’t quite function or represent the client,” he says, reflecting on his own decade of growth. “You learn VERY quickly that it’s not about you and that the most successful projects come from honest conversations, lots of listening, and prioritizing comfort and function over aesthetics. Aesthetics for a creative should be a given... the rest is where the real work is.”
The dining room of a vacation home in Chelan, Washington.
Paquette, who narrates the process of each of the 10 projects presented in the volume, has an easy voice and talent for storytelling that will attract even those not obsessed with design. He’s honest, funny, and vulnerable—both in writing and in person—which surely accounts for his continued successful relationships with clients, and the projects that result.
“I hope [that the book] shows that we have a range of styles in our work, but also that there is a connected theme through everything we do,” he says. “The theme being that we listen, we digest the space and the nature around it and we help our clients build this next chapter in a way that supports and nurtures a balanced and beautiful life.”
Available in Seattle at HOUSEWRIGHT.