The title of New York designer Marshall Watson’s first monograph, The Art of Elegance: Classic Interiors (Rizzoli, $55), may proclaim his penchant for refined interiors, but it also nods to the extraordinary way he uses art in his designs. Flipping through the beautiful projects in the book—from an idyllic Bahamas beach house to a storied Gramercy Park apartment—reveals how Watson’s palettes, moods, and schemes are often conjured from his clients’ exceptional art collections. “I like to use them as the leaping-off point,” he says.
As a designer with three decades of experience, Watson works with his clients to translate their individual tastes, aspirations, and lifestyles into his interiors. He often takes decorating cues from the artworks they own. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that before embarking on a career in design, Watson’s aspiration was to be a painter. Having given up his art-making ambitions in favor of interpreting the vision of his clients, he now considers himself lucky to be working with such “terrific collections.”
Here, Marshall Watson shares how art inspires his creative process.