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Meet the Designers Pt. 6: Rooms with a View 2013

Five questions for Bryant Keller and Claudia Ruger

Five questions for Bryant Keller of Bryant Keller Interiors

athome: How did you get your start in the interior design field?
Bryant Keller: One starts as a child, that’s how it is. I rearranged my bedroom every six months. From the time I was eight years old, I started designing things. I would design a line of clothes for my mother and then I designed the building that the particular line needed to be housed in. I was very involved with the arts as a child, but I came into the industry late in my life. In my thirties, I did the intro program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University and my professor at the time, who was a huge influence on me, said, “There is no need to go get your degree in architecture when you have so many ideas and so much talent. You should start working.” So I became someone’s design assistant and started that way.

ah: Did your upbringing influence you in any way?
BK: My family is filled with artists and musicians. My grandfather was a violinist. My grandmother was an artist. My mother was very crafty—she has an excellent sense of style and fashion. When I was in high school, an interior designer did our house and for our neighborhood, we had a very beautiful home. When I was a child, I was interested in museums and it was a big deal for me to get the Smithsonian Magazine.

ah: What three words would you choose to describe your design aesthetic?
BK: Elegant. Classic. Clean.

ah: What are your passions outside of the design field?
BK: I have a long history in the arts so I still do a lot of drawing and illustrating. I have a degree in classical piano, so I do that quite often. When I first moved to New York, I performed and toured with a ballet company and did Broadway shows, and every once in a while, I am asked to perform.

ah: If you could design for anyone in the world, who would it be?
BK: The President of the United States. I would like to do a private room for the president, because so much time is spent in the White House and it has this universal quality that is not highly reflective of the individual. I think that someone in that position needs that. They need to have a space that is not a government space; they need a space that has a dash of color.

Five questions for Claudia Ruger of Ruger Interiors

athome: How did you get your start in the interior design field?
CR: I started probably thirty-five years ago and the first projects I did were for friends. Then I opened up an antique store in New Hampshire, and now I have three antique stores. When I moved down to Connecticut, clients came to me mainly through word of mouth.

ah: When did you begin working with your daughter?
CR: Amy started formally working with me in the last year and a half, but she was working with me as long ago as 2000, when I was doing a palace in Lithuania and she did several of the rooms for me from here.

ah: What are your main sources of inspiration for your designs?
CR: Certainly travel. I lived in Japan for several years, I’ve lived in Europe, and I’ve lived in Mexico. I was raised by a collector, and I like a broad range of antiques and I like to mix things. I’m very contemporary, and my other daughter has an art gallery, so I like using contemporary art and antique furniture.

ah: Who are some of favorite contemporary artists?
CR: There’s so many. Hunt Slonem is an artist I use frequently because everyone loves his work. He’s in New York and he does a lot of rabbits and butterflies, he’s also a good friend and I love his work.

ah: Where do you like to shop for your design projects?
CR: I shop all over. I have an apartment in Palm Beach so I live there a lot and shop at South Dixie, which is a pretty famous street with a couple hundred dealers. I love going into Stamford, and I love Glen Leroux in Westport for midcentury pieces.