PaperCity Magazine

November 2018- Houston

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"A s a kid, I loved anything that had dirt on it. I loved things that were rusty. I even looked up how to patinate brass," Brandon Fontenot e x p l a i n s , b e f o r e unrolling a memory so evocative of his future path that his career as an interior designer feels predestined. "In our house, everything was passed down and had age and was beautiful. Nothing ever went away, you kept repairing it, and it became a part of your life." When his grandmother once brought a new leather club chair home, it felt like a foreign object. "I wanted it to be older," he recalls, "so I rubbed my hand all over it to take away the new." He collected anything he could get his hands on — Hot Wheels, pottery, vessels. "It manifested from there," he says. "But a collector can easily look like a hoarder, so I started arranging them. That's what got me into design." He studied biology at university, and devoured design books and magazines in his spare time. In 2013, he went to work for Kevin Spearman Design Group, where he assisted on major projects, including one in Houston, its architecture designed by McAlpine/Tankersley, and a Tuscan-style new construction in Tel Aviv, which was photographed for Veranda by François Halard. Both projects made a lasting impression on him. "Working in Tel Aviv definitely changed my way of thinking about design," he says. "People live differently there — they are okay with less, and they don't mind a little mess. They want things to be organic." Fontenot launched his design firm in 2015. At just 28, he's currently juggling four projects in Houston, including two new constructions and a remodel. Most of his clients are European. "My first clients were an English/American family I had worked with at my previous firm, and an Italian/ Dutch family who was referred to me by Daniel Cuellar from Area," he says. Other recommendations spread by word of mouth through Houston's international community, many of whom had children at The Awty International School. "I have a more European aesthetic and I think they relate to that," he says. "Growing up in Louisiana where houses are more modestly scaled than in Houston, I tend to take things down a notch. Fortunately I've been able to work on historic remodels and mid- century homes, or new construction where there's more control." One important design influence is Belgian interior designer Axel Vervoordt, who favors earthen tones, weathered surfaces, richly patinated antiques, and a mix of ancient and modern artworks. Fontenot's own collections run the range from contemporary paintings to vessels dating from the 2nd millennium BC. "I like interiors that are honest with things that transcend the antiquated divide between modern and traditional. In my own home, it all goes together." B randon Fontenot had just signed a lease on a high rise apartment two years ago when he stopped into Carol Gibbins Antiques & Decoratives, his longtime Montrose haunt for old English furniture and accessories. He and Gibbins began talking, and she told him she was retiring and closing the shop. She planned to move into a small house on the property In the dining room, ink-and-watercolor nude by Mary H. Case. Vintage movie still of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Han Dynasty vessel, right. Antique Belgian server.

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