New York City is world-renowned for it’s sophisticated style. Known to many as the design capital of the world, it excels in architecture and interior design. It’s no surprise that some of the world’s most elite designers are based in Manhattan, so we decided to highlight the city’s biggest players. After all, in every profession, there are the giants, the influential, and the movers and shakers. But how do you find the best of the best within this illustrious city?
It was not a simple task, as there is no shortage of incredible designers in New York City. However, after a thorough examination of everything from portfolios to recommendations by industry heavyweights, we have come up with the top 25 talented tastemakers of 2014, listed in alphabetical order. Take a look, and we’re sure you’ll agree that these interior designers have the characteristics, reputation and gift of genius necessary to be considered a shining star in their field.
Don’t forget to cast your vote at the end to determine NYC’s greatest interior designer.
John Barman – A much-coveted and hip New York City designer, it is no surprise that John’s client list includes the likes of Neil Simon, George Stephanopoulos and Wynton Marsalis. With an appreciation for architectural detail and fine art, his luxurious and sophisticated spaces are both approachable, elegant and boldly defined. John is consistently recognized as a giant in his field, with appearances in Architectural Digest and Esquire magazines, as well as books including City Living and Celebrity Bedrooms.
Jeffrey Bilhuber – Since the creation of his firm Bilhuber & Associates 30 years ago, Jeffrey has designed for many illustrious clients, including Anna Wintour, Iman and David Bowie. From his own line, “Bilhuber Basics,” with Stark Carpet to his widely successful first publication, Jeffrey Bilhuber’s Design Basics, Jeffrey has quickly become a household name. His designs represent the best of American style—integrating time-honored tradition with modern sensibilities for a final look that is as practical as it is beautiful.
Muriel Brandolini – Known for her intuitive sense of color and organic spaces, Muriel draws from her multicultural background (Vietnam, Venezuela, and France) as well as inspiration from the world around her, such as wall drawings by artist Sol LeWitt and interiors by design legend Renzo Mongiardino. Her 2011 book, The World of Muriel Brandolini, showcases her love of design and unconventional aesthetic. Winner of the HUE Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and featured in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Architectural Digest, it is no wonder that Muriel is such an internationally sought-after decorator.
Thomas Britt – Thomas Britt is an icon of the interior design industry. For over 40 years, Thomas has contributed his sense of European classicism and vibrant sense of color to the field. His worldwide travels have influenced his work, where he is particularly passionate about Indian culture. He has even designed for international royalty such as Her Highness the Raj Mata of Jaipur and Princess Priya Ransit of Thailand. Nationally, his high-profile clientele includes U.S. Ambassadors.
Robert Couturier – The Parisian-cum-New Yorker studied classical design at the acclaimed École Camondo, yet undoubtedly adds his own adventurous and witty style to the mix. Launched into fame with the commission of re-conceiving tycoon Sir James Goldsmith’s grandiose 20,000-acre estate on Mexico’s Costa Alegre in 1987, Couturier continues to remain an international force in design and architecture. Although based in Manhattan, true to his nature, Robert’s latest luxury project is a 100,000 square foot palace in Azerbaijan.
Thierry Despont – A French national, Thierry is educated at both the distinguished École des Beaux-Arts of Paris, and Harvard University. Specializing in unique, high-end residential projects and historical renovations, this architect, designer, and artist boasts an exclusive clientele in both America and Europe. Some of his most preeminent projects include the Decorative Arts Galleries of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Ralph Lauren flagship store on Bond Street and the Carlyle Hotel. A member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame, Thierry is a prominent and esteemed player in the world of design.
Jamie Drake – When your past projects include glamorous residential interiors for Madonna and former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, you know you have made a name for yourself. Jamie’s love of color and design manifested itself early, beginning in high school when he worked for one of New York’s leading contract design firms. For over thirty years, the prolific Jamie has been involved with every aspect of design – from furniture, to fabrics, to bathrooms and even light fixtures. His distinguished work has been published in all the top shelter magazines, and honored by Interior Design Magazine and the International Furnishings and Design Association.
Mica Ertegun – MAC II, Mica’s design firm, was founded in 1967 by herself and her late friend Chessy Rayner. Prior to starting her own company, Mica had lived in Switzerland, Paris, and Canada before moving to New York where she married Turkish businessman Ahmet Ertegun in 1960. Her aesthetic influences are as broad as her travels—from the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul to the works of decorator Billy Baldwin. Highlighted by international magazines for her residential and commercial projects, Mica is also known for her work on the boards of the New York City Ballet and the World Monuments Fund.
Steven Gambrel – A mere three years after earning his degree in architecture from the University of Virginia, Steven founded S.R. Gambrel, Inc. and began attaining his well-deserved reputation as a dedicated and significant designer. Known for his inspired interiors and custom furnishings, Gambrel is both detail-oriented and in touch with the needs of a diverse group of clients. Recent accomplishments include designing The Setai showhouse for Town & Country, collaborations with the Urban Electric Company and the Lacquer Company, and publication of first book, Time and Place.
Mariette Himes Gomez – When celebrated Manhattan designer Mariette isn’t creating serene and beautiful sanctuaries with her daughter, Brooke, she is doing signature furnishings for both Hickory Chair and her own store, The Shop. Mariette’s popular and original prints for Soicher Martin are another aspect of her exceptional vision and remarkable taste. A veteran of prominent firms Parish-Hadley and Edward Durell Stone, Mariette’s vast array of experience can be seen in her appreciation for architectural details and subtle color.
Victoria Hagan – Shortly after starting her career, Victoria’s emerging talent was noticed by The New York Times. In the 20 years since then, her innovative approach has been lauded in Vogue, Architectural Digest, and W magazines, to name a few. Her design philosophy features strong silhouettes and everyday inspiration, and her interiors often include polished pieces from her own furniture collection. A major force in the design community, Victoria has been awarded many honors, and frequently acts as a guest speaker nationwide.
Thad Hayes – A native of Louisiana, this Baton Rouge-born designer graduated from Louisiana State University before moving to New York City to practice landscape architecture and complete his education at the Parsons School of Design. In 1985, he founded his own firm, Thad Hayes, Inc., which has attracted such notable clients as businessman Leonard Lauder and fashion designer Marc Jacobs. He has been honored by House Beautiful, Architectural Digest and profiled in numerous publications for his restrained approach.
Tony Ingrao – Described as a “chameleon” by House & Garden, Ingrao’s interiors are as stylistically diverse as they are dynamic. Partner Randy Kemper and architect Bryan Brown help head up the high-profile firm, Ingrao, Inc., which caters to radio celebrity Howard Stern and business leader Jack Welch. An alumnus of Drew University and Rhode Island School of Design, Ingrao’s design interests range from homes to gardens, and has even ventured into the art world with the opening of his gallery, Ingrao Antiques & Fine Arts.
Richard Keith Langham – Hailing from the small town of Brewton, Alabama, designer Langham has long been a noteworthy name in the big city. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Richard also studied in London and earned his stripes at Mark Hampton, Inc. and Irvine and Fleming, Inc. before starting his own design firm. Since then, the dexterous maven has worked with a wide variety of distinguished clients, from Jacqueline Kennedy to actress Hilary Swank. His passion for decorating also extends to party décor, including design for the black and white ball for the Bruce Museum, and his own line of custom-made Indian Dhurries.
Juan Pablo Molyneux – Molyneux maintains studios in both New York City and in Paris, a city he fell in love with while studying at the École des Beaux-Arts and the École du Louvre. The native Chilean is truly a world citizen, creating private residences and public spaces on several continents. A faithful and devoted classicist, Molyneux appreciates and incorporates the history of architecture and interior design into his craft, often lecturing on the subject. From mountain lodges to private jets, his luxurious spaces reflect his exquisite taste and forty years of experience.
Charlotte Moss – Starting out on Wall Street provided Charlotte with the necessary aptitude to keep up with an ever-changing climate, and allow her to stay in touch and relevant after twenty-five years of decorating. A prolific writer as well as a designer, Charlotte has written eight books, including the recently published A Visual Life: Scrapbooks, Collages, and Inspirations, and is a contributing editor for The Wall Street Journal. She also defines herself through philanthropy, serving on the boards of multiple non-profit foundations.
Joe Nahem – Joe is an alumnus of the Parsons School of Design, where he had the opportunity to learn from design aficionados like Joe D’Urso and John Saladino. Born and bred in New York City, he was only 22 when he founded his firm, Fox-Nahem, with late partner Tom Fox. Immediately recognized as a talented up-and-comer, his work on a New York home was featured in a full-page cover story by The New York Times. Nahem continues to receive critical acclaim thirty years later, with appearances in House Beautiful and Gotham Magazine, as well as international publications.
Thomas O’Brien – As founder and President of Aero Studios and owner of the retail boutique Aero Ltd. on Broome Street, Thomas promotes his lifelong love for the American aesthetic. His style is both elegant and accessible, while his fashionable lifestyle brand mixes modern and traditional elements. In 2013, O’Brien followed his best-selling book, American Modern, with Aero: Beginning to Now. The industrious connoisseur also has product partnerships with Hickory Chair, Safavieh, and Target.
Miles Redd – Originally from Atlanta, Miles embarked upon an exciting career in design after graduating from New York University. With mentors like the famed John Rosselli and Bunny Williams, Miles learned from the best, and applied his own unique sense of style into the mix for a whimsical and quirky approach that is all his own. Since opening his own firm in 1998, Miles has worked as the creative director of Oscar de la Renta Home, and been featured in Elle Décor and Veranda, among other leading national shelter publications and style magazines.
Katie Ridder – Katie began her career as a decorating editor for House & Garden and House Beautiful, leaving the magazine world after a time to open a retail home furnishing shop on Lexington Avenue. In 1995, the California-raised designer founded her own firm, Katie Ridder Design & Decoration. Her editorial experience gave her an eye for detail that was quickly appreciated by a growing nationwide client base and various local and national magazines including Elle Décor and New York Magazine.
Stephen Sills – For 25 years, Stephen was one-half of the design duo that made up Sills Hunniford Associates. Parting ways with James Huniford in 2008, Sills formed Stephen Sills Associates and continues the design work that attracted high-profile clients such as Vera Wang, Anna Wintour and Tina Turner. He approaches each project with consideration for the architecture and history of the space, adding to his client’s vision with his personal flair for color and texture. In addition to magazine features, his work has been showcased on Dominic Bradbury’s “American Designers at Home” and HGTV’s “Top 10 Most Beautiful Homes.”
Matthew Patrick Smyth – After studying interior design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and honing his skills alongside design guru David Easton, Matthew founded his own firm in 1988. Able to work in a wide variety of styles, and maintaining a loyal client base, his clients often engage him for multiple projects. Matthew has been recognized with many awards and commendations over his 26 years of practice. He has participated in several showhouse projects, including Elle Décor’s first “Designer Visions” apartment in Tribeca, and has also branched out into product design with carpet collections, fabrics and wall-covering designs.
William Sofield – Since graduating from Princeton University with a degree in architecture and urban planning, William has risen to the top of the design world. Acknowledged by Interior Design magazine as a “choreographer of his craft,” Sofield’s thoughtful approach and Modernist credo lend to his unique style sensibilities. Founding Studio Sofield in 1996, he has worked in a wide range of disciplines. He’s engaged big-name clients like Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and David Barton Gym, as well as commercial projects such as a flagship boutique for Tom Ford and The Soho Grand Hotel. Recently, the designer was honored with the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design.
Bunny Williams – For over twenty years the highly esteemed Bunny refined her talents at the revered decorating firm, Parish-Hadley Associates, then eventually opened her own company in 1988. A gifted classicist, Bunny’s inviting interiors are due in large part to her strong focus and careful planning skills. In addition to designing for clients nationwide and abroad, her expressive and unique style can be seen in the Bunny Williams Home Collection. Along with her husband, antiques dealer John Rosselli, Bunny also owns Treillage Ltd., a New York garden furniture and ornament shop.
Vicente Wolf – From the light-filled headquarters of Vicente Wolf Associates in New York, to the Luxe Hotel in Beverly Hills, to a Swedish residence for multi-millionaire George David, the tenacious designer has enlivened spaces all across the map for the last four decades and is still going strong. Vicente’s creativity extends beyond interiors into furniture design, photography, art collection and world travel. Offering a global aesthetic, he not only completes projects in France and Japan, but also teaches an annual course in the Dominican Republic through Parsons School of Design. The iconic designer was even featured in Absolut Vodka’s “Absolute Design” campaign, for which he created the “Absolut Wolf” chair.
Cast your vote below to help us determine who is New York City’s greatest interior designer: