It would appear that the good people of Washington DC crave a little Miami playfulness. At the same time, the party people of Florida covet some of that Washington gravitas and classicism. Fortunately for all concerned, Brown Davis are well placed to provide it. They are based in both locations and are more than able to give the benefit of either location to their clients wherever they may be based. The picture above is the Library in a Washington private residence. In contrast, this is Villa Nirvana in Florida.
When Modenus spoke to Todd Davis recently we started by asking him about Villa Nirvana, the designers’ own Miami home. One of the skills that every good designer possesses is the ability to get to the bottom of what the client really wants, even if they don’t really know it themselves. We wondered how this worked when the designers were their own client?
“There were lots of challenges” Todd tells us “We started with a very modern hard edged house which, to be honest, no one had ever loved. The biggest challenge was how to make a very modern home comfortable”.
Brown Davis have managed to furnish the house without resorting to the hard edged modern furniture that would reflect the buildings architecture but were able to apply softer lines and more comfortable pieces without giving the appearance of an interior that would be more at home somewhere traditional.
“We tried to make it so it looks right, but not safe and boring. We do that with every project.” He laughs “We probably create more creative tensions for ourselves. It’s so wide open .. “
When we asked him about his favorite part of the house the answer was a little unexpected. “I love my garage.” laughed Todd, “It has high ceilings with a lift in it so you can park two cars”. And if you are wondering, his pride and joy is a 65 Lincoln. There is also a rather powerful Mercedes SL55 tucked away somewhere.
Another favorite is the dramatic foyer, two stories high with a sweeping spiral staircase, modeled in the picture above by the designers pet, the gorgeous Thai Ridgeback “Brooke”. And is Brooke kept off the beds and the sofas? “No, not at all.”
A “thing Modenus loves” is definitely the dining room, at once sophisticated with it’s strong design elements like the Mongolian sheepskin covered chairs and a Brand Van Egmont chandelier and still warm, inviting and livable.
We talk a little more about influences. I think I recognize something distinctly European which Todd acknowledges. There is also a touch of Southern Californian, which is where the partnership used to be based. It is the ability to mix all of those styles and influences which make Todd Davis so sought after that they are able to pick their clients, limit their commissions and pay the attention to detail for which they are known.
Another project Todd is rightfully proud of is the Miami Vice house. Yes, that’s the Miami Vice house featured in the TV series much loved by many men who were boys in the 1980’s, a few who ought to know better. The house itself has distinct 1980’s sensibilities with its sharp, clean lines. Brown Davis originally undertook a two year renovation of the house when it was bought in 2003. Now they have been asked back to work on it again.
And Todd’s advice for up and coming designers? “Just keep at it. It isn’t easy. You need to make sure that you run the business as well as taking care of the design side, it takes a while, and lots of hard work – but there is nothing like it.”
Todd Davis is clearly a man who loves his work. You can hear it in his voice when he talks about his projects. His work shows the flair and detail that only happens when someone is totally involved in what they are doing and brings all of their diverse influences and resources into play.