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Guest Edit: Jeff Schlarb

ART | interior design | AN ARTISTS ROLE IN A HOME
Guest Edit:
Jeff Schlarb
ART | interior design
Guest Edit:
Jeff Schlarb

San Francisco-based interior designer Jeff Schlarb reveals his favorite works on AucArt, his personal design philosophy, and the kind of art that excites him.

San Francisco-based interior designer Jeff Schlarb reveals his favorite works on AucArt, his personal design philosophy, and the kind of art that excites him.

Photography by Noe DeWitt

Can you briefly describe your own personal design philosophy?

I think about the experience I want people to have when they step into a room I’ve designed. I compare it to how one looks at a piece of art in a museum or gallery and having that sense of discovery. When you step into one of our rooms, I want it to feel like you’re viewing a piece of art for the first time -you have to look around, find hidden details and discover more and more about it.

In my design, I layer a lot of pattern, color and texture, but in a way that feels cleaned-up and pulled together. We always include spaces where the eyes can rest, not overwhelming you. I also keep a keen eye on the shapes of the furniture, the special finishes and the selections of artwork to complete the aesthetic.  Our style is sometimes described as ‘curiosity without the chaos.’

Balance is important to me. When approaching a new project, I’ll ask, “Where in this room do the big moments belong?  Where do we need some texture or color or a piece of art? Maybe it’s in the upholstery on the chairs, or a hand-painted wall, or statement wallpaper on the ceiling. Then I’ll ask, where do we need to pull it back so that the room feels balanced and not too weighed to one side, or too messy.”

Part of my expertise is knowing where to show restraint and where to add the punches of excitement and how to balance those elements around the room. I want our designs to be interesting, with a little edge, but done with balance and artistry.

What’s your thought process like when you’re incorporating art into a space?

To me, art is everywhere. It’s in the little details, it’s in the materials and the finishes- the trim on the pillows, a houndstooth button, or a chamfered edge on a marble countertop. We’ll often take traditional ideas or finishes and modernize them in a cool, new way.

I also have to navigate what kind of art the client needs. Some clients have well developed art collections. Others want our expertise to fill their home with interesting pieces. We always include a mix of mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, 3D etc. And we’ll gently push clients to consider artwork they might not have considered before.

Jeff's recent work

Photography by Aubrie Pick
Photography by Douglas Friedman
Photography by Douglas Friedman

Can you tell us about what you look for in artworks?

Artwork has content attached to it. The art is doing something, it has a voice in the room. Sometimes it’s an ethereal painting that doesn’t necessarily have much to say, but it’s beautiful and decorative. Other pieces are more compelling and demand attention. To me, the most interesting art participates in the conversation of the room but has a subtle message. Most of our artwork is on the happy side even if it’s provocative in some way.
 

How do you get an idea or feel for your client’s tastes and needs when choosing the artwork, furnishings, and accessories for a home?

The art choices are specific to each client. My goal is to indulge their taste and preferences to design rooms that they want to live in with art they love looking at.

We create entire art presentations for our clients to show them a range of styles and mediums. I tell them there’s no right or wrong answer to whether they like a piece of art or not so they feel comfortable and I get an honest sense of what they like or don’t like. At the end of the day, I like to make people happy and whether we’re selecting a piece of art or finishing an entire project, it makes me happy when my clients love their new home

Photography by Terry O’Neill

Do you collect art or any kind of objects yourself?

I love photography- especially Rock and Roll photography. David Bowie is one of my style icons and one of my favorite prints is titled David Bowie, Mustard Yellow Suit, shot by British photographer Terry O’Neill in 1974.
 

I also love the photography of Ellen von Unwerth and Tyler Shields.

 How would you describe the kind of art that excites you?

I like art that has something to say but is not overly aggressive. I look for pieces that make you stop and investigate what you’re looking at.

Photography by Douglas Friedman
Photography by Douglas Friedman

Artwork has content attached to it. The art is doing something, it has a voice in the room. Sometimes it’s an ethereal painting that doesn’t necessarily have much to say, but it’s beautiful and decorative

Artwork has content attached to it. The art is doing something, it has a voice in the room. Sometimes it’s an ethereal painting that doesn’t necessarily have much to say, but it’s beautiful and decorative

Artwork Picks from Jeff

Pink Moon, 2021

Giclée print

Silent Veil, 2023

Giclée print on fine art museum paper

Artwork Picks from Jeff

Pink Moon, 2021

Giclée print

Silent Veil, 2023

Giclée print on fine art museum paper

Photography by Noe DeWitt
Photography by Noe DeWitt
Jeff Schlarb is an award-winning interior designer based in San Francisco, CA. He specializes in luxury residential and commercial design and has projects around the world. His style embodies the art-meets-design aesthetic, and his work consistently results in expressive and inspired interiors. He calls it “curiosity without the chaos.” 
 
A recent 10 page cover story in CA Home & Design describes him as a “Modern Day Maximalist,” celebrating his exuberant style which employs daring uses of color, pattern, texture and art. He masterfully combines all of these elements to create a layered look that is at once complex and balanced, classical and contemporary. 
 
You can see more of Jeff’s work at jeffschlarb.com or follow him on Instagram @jeffschlarb
By Anh-Minh Le | Photography by Douglas Friedman
By Laura Hine | Photography by Noe DeWitt
By Michael McCarthy | Photography by Noe Dewitt

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