i met alexa hampton a few years ago at the 2012 kips bay show house. the bedroom she did was one of my favorite rooms in the house. before meeting alexa i had always heard how nice, funny, thoughtful, and smart she was, and of course, i already knew how talented she was. meeting her was a delight, getting to know her has been an absolute pleasure.
when we spoke a few weeks ago about the interview, the first thing we discussed was her father. i’ve always been a fan not only because of his immense talent, but because of his business savvy, marketing skills, speaking skills, water colors, and his all american classic sensibility. it was very fun to chat about him and the influence he had on her not only as a father but as a mentor.
then we totally got off topic, i don’t think we even talked about the interview- we just talked about life. how fun it is, how hard it is, how exciting it is! we also lingered on the in’s and out’s of the design business.
of all the interviews i’ve done, i believe you really get to know alexa the most. so much thought, energy and passion went into her responses and follow up (plus i love that she loves oscar de la renta and bill blass as much as i do).
everything i had heard about alexa was true- she’s warm, engaging, hysterical, real and driven. you’ll see it too! enjoy!
AH- I’m constantly observed as being neo-classically influenced. So, trying to hide it would be useless. I adore neo-classicism. However, I am a fan of all things beautiful, so I think my style is adaptive, too. I am also drawn to logical spaces, so I hope that is an attribute that could be said to describe my sense of style.
Alexa’s bedroom she designed for the Kips Bay showhouse 2012
MDS- Where did you grow up and how do you think that influences your work?
AH- I grew up in New York, the daughter of famous decorator who was friends with other famous decorators, designers, architects, artists, curators, writers, landscape architects, architectural historians, potters and many style makers to boot. How could I not be influenced?! It made me understand that beauty could be coaxed out of most things and in almost all environments and that that coaxing could be an endeavor that provoked joy for those who helped conjure it professionally, as well as for those for whose experience it was produced.
Alexa and her father, the great Mark Hampton.
MDS- If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
AH- I always answer this question “an unsuccessful artist,” but I think I am pragmatic enough that I would feel driven to find something to do that could support me, and I don’t think my being an artist would. Being totally unsuccessfully employed would make me feel guilty. So, I’d probably have to find something else that could gainfully employ my time.
A drawing by Alexa hanging in her office.
MDS- Who or what is inspiring you right now?
AH- When I first started running the company, I looked to fashion designers to provide me my career inspiration. Many were doing a great job of being entrepreneurial while being creative. Two notable examples are Bill Blass and Oscar de La Renta. Later, I thought the chefs were combining fun projects under their professional umbrella, like being writers, product designers, professional travelers and restaurant owners alongside their being artists in the kitchen.
Like everyone else, now I am inspired by the notion of disruptive technologies. In the creative marketplace, I think of innovators like 1st Dibs, One Kings Lane and Net a Porter as having had a huge and immediate effect on my life. Interior design is changing fast and furiously, so it can and should house creative disruption within its discipline, as it is inexorably and irrevocably changing already.
For visual inspiration, I draw from everywhere I look. On the internet, I love your blog and The Peak of Chic and Habitually Chic, as 3 examples. I love Pinterest and use it a lot as a reference tool. I consume a lot of popular culture through TV and magazines, so I can’t help but notice its impact. And, as a lifetime lover of travel and art and architectural history, I have my established canon of inspiration. Some of my all time favorites: My father, Emilio Terry, Groussay, Bill Blass’ rooms, Givenchy’s houses and apartments, Vau Le Vicomte, Henri Samuel, David Hicks, Schinkel, Van Day Truex, Albert Hadley, Francois Catroux and Jacques Grange, David Adler. Painters: Velazquez, Titian, Manet, Matisse, Cezanne, Braques, Walter Gay, Wilhelm Hammershoi, John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth.
Bill Blass Entry
Bill Blass Living room
Oscar de la renat’s punta cana house
Oscar de la renat’s punta cana living room
MDS- What is the favorite room in your home?
AH- The Living Room is the repository/manifestation of my dreams for myself. As a result, it always is a little more organized and more mature and more sophisticated than I am, in truth. I am having fun trying to grow into it. There is a bit of ‘fake it til you make it’ to the room, but it makes me totally happy.
Alexa and her husband in their living room- house beautiful 2002.
Alexa’s living room
Alexa’s living room
MDS- Is there anything you obsessively collect?
AH- I wouldn’t say I obsessively collect them, because that would bankrupt me if I did; however, I am mad about souvenirs of the Grand Tour. Niall Smith’s shop in New York has my ultimate wish list of items. But, I don’t mind my own slow boil approach to amassing my pieces. Part of the seductive lure of collecting is not having everything at once.
Niall Smith’s living room via new york social diary filled with souvenirs from the Grand Tour.
MDS- Fill in the blank: “I could never own too many______.”
AH- ”I could never own too many art/design/great reading books.” A room is not complete until books are in it.
lots of book in Alexa’s bedroom
MDS- If you could decorate anyone’s house- who’s would it be and why?
AH- This is such an impossible and frustrating question! So, I need to approach it different ways. For prestige: The White House, for the adventure and challenge: a Russian Oligarch’s base in Moscow or London.
Whoever is out there who has an enormous passion and respect for design, who loves collecting, who loves art and architecture, who has a big property, the time, patience and money to do it right and who is loads of fun: that is whose house I want to do.
a perfect alexa hampton living room fit for the White House.
MDS- What do you want to be known for?
AH- I would love to be a unicorn: a wonderful mother, a loving wife, a great friend, enormously talented at work, a well informed, cultured, educated and intelligent thinker, fair, honest and successful in business, and a super fun person.
I’ll settle for much less. Clean? Funny?
Another view of Alexa’s master bedroom
MDS- What do you think is chic, stylish and glamorous?
AH- Confidence and intelligence are the seeds of all chic, style and glamour. Insecurity and arbitrariness are anathema to them.
i love this picture of alexa- confident, funny and chic!
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