What Themes will Rule Supreme in 2015 - ShopLadder Virtuosos

So, 2015 is upon us and everyone is asking what design trends and themes will lead us into the New Year. We have taken the time to survey some of the leading designers across the country how they see 2015 panning out. We call these leading designers our ShopLadder Virtuosos. Expect to see more from these and other leading designers in the coming months as we ask top interior designers the important questions.

Sarah Stacey

www.sarahstaceydesign.com | (512) 796-7388 | Austin, TX

Luxe Minimalism - this is a nice break from all of the busy décor from the past few years. With a focus on texture and colors there will be minimal patterns on textiles. Instead, pattern comes through in color blocking, contrasting lines in furniture and architectural materials.

Allison Jaffe

www.allisonjaffe.com | (512) 343-4553 | Austin, TX

I am doing a lot of eclectic projects where the home may read more traditional but the client’s taste is more contemporary or modern. Its been fun to mix and match the two styles. Its unexpected and may have less of a chance to tire the rest of the year

Paul Kairis

www.hominteriors.com | (800) 835-8299 | New York, Newport, Palm Beach and Waverly

MIX is the new MATCH

The trend for the year is that the MIX of styles is more important than the MATCH so you can create your own personal STYLE.

The trend in mixing styles started years and years ago in the Fashion world. People stopped wearing ONE designer " head to toe " and began mixing them to create their own "style".

This has firmly moved into the Interiors of Homes as well. We now don't define a house as just classic, modern, retro, euro, country etc. We now define it by the Personality of the owner, by the mix of design, furniture, art and accessories that allows each house to resemble the people that live in it.

This of course doesn't mean throwing away basic good design skills of proportion, scale, balance, color and just plain good taste. It instead allows for the true Freedom of a House to become a HOM. And express the Personalities of the People who live there.

Pamela O'Brien

www.pamelahopedesigns.com | (713)-880-1934 | Houston, TX

I am seeing Mid Century Modern look very strong for 2015. Architects are incorporating it more and more into home and building design and mainstream furniture companies are creating full collections for every room in the house. No longer just for trendsetters and Mad Men aficionados, Mid Century Modern’s clean lines and graphic style are back and better than ever.

Sunny K Merry

www.sunnykmerry.com | (510) 207-9198 | San Francisco, CA

I'm really loving the quirkiness of the Memphis Milano movement of the 1980's. Geometric shapes in ice cream colors. Wonderfully timed with the coming of spring! Here are some examples!

Beverly Vosko

www.vosko.com | (713) 464-0055 | Houston, TX

In my opinion the most important trend in 2015 is the use of more color. For the last few years, everyone has been designing monochromatic rooms in white or off white or gray. I think people are finally getting tired of monochromatic rooms and are interested in a fresh look. And color is the way they are freshening up their rooms- color on the walls be it paint or wallpaper, and color in their fabrics and curtains and accessories. What colors are popular in 2015. Purples and teal blues are making a statement and look fabulous alongside the whites and grays that we have been using. Yellow is another popular color and is being mixed with gray and white. So if you want a fresh look, add some color to your rooms. The easiest and least expensive way to add color is to paint one wall. Or add some colorful pillows or accessories. Try adding some color to your rooms and see what a wonderful change it can make.

Amanda Nisbet

amandanisbetdesign.com | (212) 860-9133 | New York, NY

Minimalistic Design, i.e. Black and white with a hint of glam

Suzi OBrien

www.ecoluxinteriors.com | (619)-964-7716 | San Diego, CA

Global Infusion of Artisans taking historic skills and time honored designs and making them fresh and new. With so much online ... Designers can source up and coming textile designers and artists abroad! Exciting Time. I'm working on a Spanish Mediterranean Home and am sourcing tile, textiles and art from new artists in those countries.

Alex Dahlgren

www.theancongroup.com | (214)-432-6596 (Dallas) | (213)-291-9558 (San Diego, CA & Los Angeles, CA)

I believe that restrained luxury will be leading trend of 2015. Rich materials used in ways that make a clear statement will be the common thread seen in the new year.

It appears that 2015 will be yet another year of thoughtful, diverse design options for consumers. It seems that there is at least one consistent theme running through all our designers' responses: that there are options to fit nearly any taste. Think you have the design chops for the ShopLadder Virtuoso program? Reach out to Jayson Alexander to show off your portfolio and apply to the program.

Paul J. Kairis - Meet the Designers

Paul J. Kairis Interior Designer

Web: hominteriors.com 
Designer: Paul J. Kairis
Contact:(800) 835-8299
Location(s): New York, Newport, Palm Beach and Waverly
Years of operation: 15

  1. What made you interested in interior design?
    This is a Hard question. Who knows what ever makes us do the things we do? The easy answer is PASSION. I LOVE what I do. But, if I have to say what may have been the catalyst for my Passion for Interior Design, it might come down to my Aunt and Uncle. When I was a little boy, every year during the 4th Of July week I was sent to my Uncle and Aunt's home in Washington D.C. I remember being so fascinated by their home and them and their friends. They had a Classic Brick Washington house. The inside, though, was very unique to me! It had classic lines, fireplace, molding, etc... BUT... it was washed in white paint...which was very unusual for the time. There was Large, Big, Bold Art; there were Antiques mixed with Mid Century Furniture; there was always Music Playing, the Clinking of Glasses, and People Talking, Laughing, and Smoke Billowing around... quite Auntie Mame meets Mrs. Robinson. It was EYE CANDY for a little boy. Many of the people were Famous (even though I didn't know it at the time!!). As a matter of fact, there was One Painting in particular that I TRULY always loved. It was titled "The Cocktail Party". It was an abstract painting of an actual Cocktail Party, not unlike the ones I had been observing on my visits. There was an image of Jackie Kennedy  as part of the painting. The artist was the wife of a VERY famous Washington person who was best friends with my Aunt and Uncle. To add to the whole impact of my visits with them, and how those visits inspired me to become an Interior Designer come full circle to this moment, when they died I inherited "The Cocktail Party" painting. I cherish it and the impact of those visits to this day!

  2. How would you describe your design style?
    That is almost the Perfect question for me. I know this may sound corny or it may sound even a little vain to some people, but I am very proud of the fact that I like to say, " I have STYLE, not ‘A' STYLE". I guess that sounds a little confusing, but I like to think that I have Good Taste, Good Design Sense, Good Scale, so I just like to apply those Sensibilities to each client and each project. If I walk in with MY style then the client would get lost. It would not be their HOM. Then all of my projects would look the same and have "A" Style. Instead I apply my Talents and coax the Style out my Clients and Their residence. I make every house personal and rather try to make their home reflect their style... not mine. Thus the name of my company is NOT my name, but rather the way it should be- HOM. Personal Interiors.

  3. What is your favorite piece you have ever placed?
    WOW! That is truly a tough question. I always like to think of the Future and say, the next piece I Place!! But, to be truthful, it will ALWAYS be the Art!! In EVERY project we wind up creating at least one original piece of art for a Client... usually many more. But, I always tell clients, a Paint Color, a Sofa, a Light Fixture, almost anything can be bought by someone else. BUT, the addition of the Art and the Accessories is the magic that is impossible to duplicate that makes your HOM. personal. So, I truly Emphasize and Encourage clients to really think of these purchases as THE Most Important!! I firmly believe that it is the last 10% of the pieces, meaning the Art and Accessories, that makes their HOM. a 100% "HOME" RUN!

  4. What should people look for in a designer?
    They should like their Designer. They should like their Designers work. They should trust their Designer. Without trust, their project will never turn out special. You trust your doctor, your dentist, your hair stylist, You have to trust your designer. They should take your home to a place and level you never dreamed of. They should not "push" you far out of your comfort zone, but a good designer should take you much further than your imagination can take you, or what really is the point? So combine TRUST with Talent and you have your Designer!

In closing, I always like to say to people, "There is no right or wrong in design". You should apply Creativity, Curiosity, and a little Courage. You should try to move beyond having your home look like everyone else's home and make it your own HOM. There are so many options to choose from... we now MIX and MATCH. We Use HIGH with LOW price pieces together. The only rule is there are no rules. And if you ever find it hard to do yourself, well then, just call HOM. There is no place like HOM.

Sarah Stacey - Meet the Designers

Sarah Stacey Interior Designer

Designer: Sarah Stacey
Contact: (512) 796-7388 
Location(s): Austin, TX
Years of operation: 5

  1. What made you interested in interior design?
    My parents hired a designer to work on their home when I was a teenager. I found it fascinating to watch her and to see what she selected. I decided to decorate my room while she was working on other rooms in the house and had so much fun doing it. I’ve thought about design just about every day since then.

  2. How would you describe your design style?
    Happy, light, personalized.

  3. What is your favorite piece you have ever placed?
    I’m not sure I have a favorite. It is a toss up between a custom geo light fixture and a metal coffee table, both made by local craftsmen.

  4. What should people look for in a designer?
    Look for a designer whose work you like and resonate with. This is the style they do best and is their aesthetic. Also, you should really like the designer as a person, you'll be working with them pretty closely for about 8 months!

Bringing Frank Lloyd Wright Home

Frank Lloyd Wright famously created a standard style of American architecture. To do this, the renowned architect experimented with various forms and materials. The progressive designer started his architecture career in Oak Park, IL. Eventually, Mr. Wright was recognized as one of the 20th century’s most influential architects. When Frank Lloyd Wright developed a structure, he did so based upon his conviction that attractive designs enhance people’s lives. Mr. Wright’s legacy continues to be an inspiration to those who view and study it.¹ 

Table of Contents

  1. Biography
  2. Organic Design Philosophy
    1. Harmony of the Part in Relation to the Whole
    2. The Parts are Made According to the Function of the Organism
    3. The Form of the Organism Decides the Character of the Organism
    4. Integration of Parts to the Whole
    5. Design of Parts Controls the Design of the Whole
  3. Bringing it Home
    1. Relation to the Whole
    2. Function of the Organism
    3. Character of the Organism
    4. Parts to the Whole
  4. Final Thoughts


On June 8, 1867, Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center, WI. His parents originally gave him the middle name of Lincoln, but he changed it to Lloyd after they divorced to honor his mother's side of the family. When he was 12 years old, Wright’s family moved to Madison, WI, where he attended high school. During the summer months, he spent time at his uncle’s farm in Spring Glen. It was at the farm that he discovered an interest in architecture. Displaying his architectural depth, he later reminisced about the farm’s landscaping by saying, “The modeling of the hills, the weaving and fabric that clings to them, the look of it all in tender green or covered with snow or in full flow of summer that bursts into the glorious blaze of autumn. I still feel myself as much a part of it as the trees and birds and bees are, and the red barns.”² 

In 1885, Wright left Madison high school without earning his diploma. He left school to work for Allan Conover who was the Dean of the Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin. While working at the college, Frank studied civil engineering for two semesters. In 1887, he moved to Chicago. 

In Chicago, architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee hired Frank Lloyd Wright. While working for Silsbee, Wright developed the plans for his first building, which was the Lloyd-Jones Family Chapel. The structure also went by the name Unity Chapel. A year later, the firm of Adler and Sullivan hired Wright as one of their associates. Wright credited Sullivan as one of his only career influences. Sullivan believed that American architecture should focus on function instead of European tradition. Wright took this theory to heart and developed his own adage, which was “Form and function are one.”³

Frank Lloyd Wright’s first home designs exhibited his unique talents. These early residences displayed individual styling that simulated the appearance of a horizontal plane. The homes did not come with basements or attics. They were constructed from natural materials and were not painted. Mr. Wright’s initial housing designs featured low-pitched rooflines along with deep overhangs. An early Frank Lloyd Wright house featured a continuous wall of windows to blend with the surrounding environment. These homes had large brick or stone fireplaces as well as open rooms that flowed from one to another.

During his employment for Sullivan, Frank met and married Catherine Tobin. The couple built a home in Oak Park, IL, and had five children. In 1893, Mr. Wright left his job with Adler and Sullivan to start his own firm in Chicago. 

The architect toured Japan in 1905, and the travel experience greatly influenced his later work. It was the country’s tendency to merge visual appeal with geometric shapes that affected him the most. A few years later, Wright spent time in Europe. While there, he penned two publications that deeply inspired other architects. 

In 1911, Wright moved back to America, but after a tragedy involving a fire, the building designer moved to Japan where he remained for several years developing Tokyo’s new Imperial Hotel. In 1922, Wright moved back to the United States. During his later years, he continued designing structures. Mr. Wright also wrote more publications and began lecturing. 

Frank introduced a unique idea for the nation. His plan was for people to live in affordable and nature-friendly communities. He used the word Usonia to describe his community proposal. Usonia refers to a group of about 60 housing structures. The homes in this type of community are small and made from local materials. Wright built the first Usonian home in 1937. It is called the Jacobs House. Several Usonian communities currently exist in the United States. 

Mr. Wright’s famous design elements continue to appear in many of today’s new homes. Furthermore, homeowners often complete renovations to obtain some of his architectural contributions. Frank Lloyd Wright wanted his organic architecture philosophy to become more than the structures he developed and more than an attribution of his work. His wish was that this concept would inspire and direct future architects as well as laypeople. 

Organic Design Philosophy

Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I’d like to have a free architecture. I’d like to have architecture that belonged where you see it standing, and was a grace to the landscape instead of a disgrace.” Traditionally, the term “organic” signifies plant or animal life, but Mr. Wright gave it a different connotation. According to the famous designer, architecture should echo nature and display an equal amount of unity as is exhibited in nature. In architectural history, Wright and his one-time boss Louis Sullivan are considered the innovators of organic architecture. F.L. Wright explained his concepts by describing the elements of a living organism. According to Mr. Wright, the concepts that create unity in nature include:

• Harmony of the part in relation to the whole. 
• The parts are made according to the function of the organism. 
• The form of the organism decides the character of the organism. 

To apply these concepts, the architect confirmed that he designed his projects to highlight two principles. These principles are:

• Integration of parts to the whole. 
• Design of parts controls the design of the whole. 

Harmony of the Part in Relation to the Whole

This concept typically refers to designing a structure to respect and blend in with the landscaping. It means to honor local traditions and create a structure with native materials. F.L. Wright also used the concept to develop structures and homes around the area’s natural terrain. In some cases, he created structures to emphasize unique natural elements. 

When Wright designed Taliesin West, he used the harmony principle. For instance, the building’s design blends locally gathered freestanding boulders and rocks with the cement that Wright decided to use to form the structure. The building’s property featured rocks with petroglyphs carved into the surfaces. Mr. Wright decided how these rocks would be used in relation to the structure. He had the rocks located to particular areas and positioned them to display their original artwork. In deciding the position of Taliesin West, F.L. Wright selected a place where the building would frame the area’s sights, which included picturesque views of the valley and nearby mountains.

The Parts are Made According to the Function of the Organism

This principle indicates a client’s needs. When Frank Lloyd Wright designed a home for a family, he would consider how much space the family needed. He would also confirm their favorite places to gather in the home and how his design could enrich their time together. He wanted to elevate people’s daily lives into art. 

An example of this concept is the Zimmerman House. Wright began building the home in 1951. As with his Taliesin property, the architect harmonized the Zimmerman House with the surrounding landscapes, but he also worked with the couple to make it a personal creation for them. James Garvin, a retired architectural historian for the state of New Hampshire, commented on the Zimmerman's home. He said, “There is nothing generic about the building; everything about the house grows from the personalities and artistic interests of the owners.” Wright created the home’s living room to generate amazing acoustics. He also included a nook for the piano and an abundance of shelves so that the couple could exhibit their sculptures and pottery collection.

The Form of the Organism Decides the Character of the Organism

This principle means that a structure’s inside space establishes its exterior shape. F.L. Wright believed that interior space should not be segregated into box forms called rooms. Instead, space should flow openly from room to room. He said, “Rooms are never simple rectangles but are broken up vertically and horizontally to give the eye and mind something delightful and sometimes something mysterious to enjoy. An area is never fully comprehended when viewed from a particular point but must be slowly experienced as one moves through the space. One space can introduce another, heightening the effect, or function as part of a series, such as the playroom hallway and the playroom in the home.”

Wright used the concept when he designed the renowned Guggenheim museum. Experts believe that F.L. Wright used the shape of a nautilus shell as inspiration when he developed the form of the museum. To make the design a reality, Wright selected cement for the structure’s material. Since cement can be formed, he had greater control over the full design while still permitting the material to dominate the building’s smooth exterior shape. As a result, the structure is more like an eggshell in its formation than a traditional interwoven brick building. 

Due to the nature of cement, Mr. Wright used various forming techniques to build the Guggenheim. During construction, cement was poured into forms and sprayed. The manufacturing method allowed the architect to create a spiraling ramp along the interior of the structure to follow the building's exterior form, which featured a curved design. Of the museum, Wright said, “It is one great space on a simple continuous floor. The eye encounters no abrupt change, but is gently led and treated as if at the edge of a shore watching an unbreaking wave…one floor flowing into another instead of the usual superimposition of stratified layers.” The curved walls also gave the museum’s curators a unique base to display the artwork.

Integration of Parts to the Whole

Wright’s integration concept focuses on the materials used to build a structure. Instead of changing the materials to fit a plan, F.L. Wright left them as intact as possible to enhance his designs. Furthermore, he brought out the natural elements of the materials that he used. For instance, the architect used stain to highlight the grain in wood or left it alone. When he used plaster, he allowed its natural texture to appear.

An example of this principle is the famous Fallingwater House. The residence is located in the forest area of Bear Run, PA, so Wright used locally quarried stone to build the home. In addition, he chose to leave the stone exposed instead of planning smooth cuts and a plaster coating. Consequently, the home’s exterior is noticeably irregular and imbalanced.

Design of Parts Controls the Design of the Whole 

With this concept, the composition of the parts works to determine the structure’s design. To develop a building using Wright’s principle, architects must let the material they’ve chosen for the project impact the design.

The Unity Temple is an example of this concept. In developing the building’s design, Wright determined that the client needed a place to worship and a community room. The client’s budget was small while the property was long and narrow, so Wright was forced to work within these limitations. The client also asked the architect to design the temple’s furniture and stained glass. Upon its completion, the structure’s interior featured an efficient use of space as well as separation elements to decrease noise transfer between the two spaces. As a result, the building’s character is simple and modern even though the architect developed it more than 100 years ago. According to Wright, the creation of the building caused him to recognize that the actual heart of a structure is in its space instead of the walls.¹⁰

Bringing it Home 

You can take the concepts developed by F.L. Wright and include them in your own home. Organic architecture is ideal for every home. Furthermore, it is an architectural style that suits all types of homes in any section of the country. You can make changes according to one or all of his elements to update your current residence to reflect Wright’s influences. 

Relation to the Whole 

To create harmony of the part in relation to the whole within your existing home, change the exterior appearance of your residence by adding stone or painting it a natural shade that you would find in the great outdoors. You can also implement this principle by installing a deck on the back of your home. Be sure to build the addition around your property’s natural elements. A deck will increase your living space and give you a spot to sit in to appreciate your surroundings. The addition of windows will allow you to frame your home's view. Before placing the windows, be sure to assess the exterior terrain to frame specific outdoor elements. The change will also allow you to include Wright’s harmony concept in your home. 

Function of the Organism 

This concept focuses on the needs of a family, so you can create it in your home by making practical changes. Frank Lloyd Wright advised his clients to use built-in furniture, so consider commissioning a carpenter to construct built-in shelves for your living and family room areas. Custom closets and window seats are other ways to embrace this principle. The famous architect combined furniture pieces to make them more useful. For instance, he built a bookcase in the rear section of a bench. You can use this handy design element for furniture items in your own house. 

Character of the Organism 

Since this concept refers to a building’s interior space determining its exterior appearance, it may take big changes for you to modify your home’s external look. However, you can transform the inside to create this principle in your own home. For instance, make an open floorplan by removing walls, pillars and space separating design elements. 

Parts to the Whole

Mr. Wright frequently used wood for both a home’s structural components and its interior furnishings. This technique created visual continuity between a building’s physical design and the space inside. If you’re interested in using this principle in your home, add styling elements on the interior of your space that mimic the outside. For homes made from brick or stone, install a fireplace constructed from a similar material. If your home is made from wood, then you can add furnishings made from the same substance. F.L. Wright preferred to eliminate the barriers that walls create between the inside and outside of a home. To produce this effect, install a glass and aluminum folding door. The addition will dispel the wall between the indoors and outdoors. 

Design of the Whole

Since the design concept focuses on the parts influencing the entire structure, you can create the principle in your home by highlighting the natural materials of your residence. For instance, allow wood to remain its regular color or stain it a similar shade. Adding windows is another way to modify your existing home to display the character concept. Windows let you and your family stay close to nature. They also let natural light enter the space. To maintain your privacy, use decorative glass. 

Final Thoughts

Realizing inner harmony was a major aspect of each Frank Lloyd Wright design. The architect believed that creating character in a building was the same as its formation in a person. F. L. Wright’s designs and completed works proved that people can live in homes that harmonize with nature instead of overshadow it. Furthermore, homes that blend with their natural surroundings are more beautiful because of the union. 


  1. http://www.architectstudio3d.org/AS3d/about_wright.html
  2. http://www.biography.com/people/frank-lloyd-wright-9537511#early-life
  3. http://www.pbs.org/flw/legacy/essay1.html
  4. http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/education/school-educator-programs/teacher-resources/arts-curriculum-online?view=item&catid=730&id=121
  5. http://www.taliesinpreservation.org/frank-lloyd-wright/fllw-faq
  6. http://www.nhhomemagazine.com/May-June-2013/An-Architectural-Work-of-Art/
  7. http://www.flwright.org/.../userfiles/files/Wright-Organic-Architecture.pdf
  8. http://www.wrightontheweb.net/flw8-17.htm
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unity_Temple
  10. http://www.fallingwater.org/38/fallingwater-facts

Introducing the ShopLadder Virtuoso Program

The United States is filled with talented designers, stagers, and decorators and it is our goal to seek them out and bring them here to you. Thus, we are announcing the beginning of the ShopLadder Virtuoso Program

Virtuoso Program Mission

To identify top design talent around the United States and give them a platform to share their knowledge with the greater ShopLadder community.

Who are the Virtuosos?

Virtuosos are hand-selected by our ShopLadder team. You cannot apply to be a virtuoso and you can't pay to become one. Only a select group of designers will ever become labeled as ShopLadder Virtuosos and will earn the privilege of being named as such. We seek to maintain the utmost integrity of the program, thereby ensuring only the strongest talent makes their way into the program.

When will the Program Start?

The first virtuoso invitations went out this January 2015. We should expect to begin hearing from our newly tapped virtuosos in the next few weeks. Keep watching for updates!