PaperCity Magazine

March 2014 - Houston

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MARCH | PAGE 41 | 2014 "I am drawn to clean elegant design, beautifully constructed with simple lines, whether it be clothing or furniture. From there, you can embellish or manipulate with whatever intrigues you. IT CAN BE AS LOUD OR AS SUBDUED AS YOU WANT IT TO BE." F rank Sinatra may have said, "I did it my way," but when speaking with Cathy Echols, one senses that she's done much the same in her life. While her work remains a genuine reflection of her clientele's wishes, the charismatic and charming designer exudes a fierce intelligence and sense of independence. Her father was a builder and developer, so Echols — who was born and raised in Houston — has been around the design world her entire life. With her own design practice now entering its 10th year, we sit down to talk about the influences that shape her views on design. You have a strong interest in fashion. To which designers are you drawn? Hermès, Brunello Cucinelli, Martin Margiela, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin and Ralph Lauren. Is there a crossover between your interest in fashion and your interiors work? I like designers that reflect an old-school approach. I like beautiful fabrics and tailoring. I dress in a way that is very similar to how I design … If you start with the something beautifully designed, a basic, you can then add or subtract bits and pieces of your life as you see fit. A bracelet or a scarf from a travel destination, a funky T-shirt or, with interiors, a color, pillow, piece of art, etc. I find that I am drawn to clean elegant design, beautifully constructed with simple lines, whether it be clothing or furniture. From there, you can embellish or manipulate with whatever intrigues you. It can be as loud or as subdued as you want it to be. You're an avid reader. What books have had an impact on you? Jeanette Winterson's The Passion reflects the way I live my life — which, of course, influences my design work. One must embrace the extremes of life; it's a constant puzzle, how things fit together aesthetically and functionally. It's a constant pursuit — you keep readdressing and reassessing your vision, internally and externally. A few other books that have had an impact are Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and for fun, Diana Vreeland's Why Don't You? I enjoy books with a strong sense of narrative, which is also very reflective of the work I do. Favorite destinations? Places that are high on your list to visit? I love Italy for the architecture and design; Paris for interiors and the unstudied style of the women. I would like to visit Greece to see the color of the water. I may also need to go to Egypt for makeup tips. Those gals have that eyeliner thing down! The library/den is centered around a Roman bronze horse head from Biff Agee, which sits atop a custom wooden stand. Valence is covered in David Hicks La Fiorentina from Lee Jofa\Kravet, flanked by a pair of bookshelves painted olive with hot-pink interior. A David Hicks-inspired drinks table holds a large silver tray, Baccarat ice bucket, collection of vintage crystal shakers and decanters. Antique hand-colored prints were gifts from Cathy's mother. Faux-bamboo chair covered in olive-colored cowhide. Zebra rug from Custom Creations is beneath a custom glass cube coffee table. An 18th- century French Louis XIV sofa from James Powell is flanked by Donghia chests and Robert Kuo hammered-gold, washed-bronze lamps from Ellouise Abbott. In the living room, a pair of bookshelves with lemon-lime interiors are filled with blue-and-white porcelain from Honey Church in Hong Kong, collected oddments and a glass column lamp from Restoration Hardware. Horn chair from J. Randall Powers is covered in Chinese red silk mohair from George Cameron Nash. The open shelving of the kitchen houses a collection of Cathy's china: Limoges, Haviland Marie Antoinette, Spoke Tradewinds and Castletown China Shell Pink grouping, along with vintage silver flatware, silver serving pieces and a dried Mother's Day floral arrangement from Cathy's son, Stuart. In the office/sitting room, pink painted wood doors are crisscrossed with black grosgrain ribbon. Black leather stools with chrome nailheads from Area.

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