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Designer Spotlight Series: Gail Shields-Miller, New York City eclectic

Tribal-inspired living room with brown limestone floor and African cocktail table. Michael Stratton Photography.

The publications Gail Shields-Miller’s work has been featured in read like a who’s who in shelter mags with projects of her New York City based company  Shields and Company Interiors in Architectural Digest, Veranda, New York Spaces, Interior Design and many others. Gail’s work caught our eye for the eclecticism and fearlessness with which she creates her stylish compositions. Her designs are warm, inviting and comfortable but never predictable.

When I spoke to her recently I started by asking Gail about how she blends surprising elements with otherwise traditional pieces. “I do get clients to mix it up.” she says. “Furniture should be comfortable and pleasing to the eyes but there should be things of interest, things that make a room stand out. It becomes a theater for me, a place to create a feeling. And every little thing counts.” As she speaks her enthusiasm is apparent.  “When I see things I know if they will work, my brain works like that. I am always looking for something new.” For the last year many of her finds can bee seen on her successful blog Dezignlicious. Started because she wanted the stimulation of a new challenge, the blog tends to feature 21st century furniture and new design, of which Gail considers herself to be a supporter. “It is just a baby blog right now” says Gail, “But I love the feedback I’ve been getting and its going to get a lot bigger.”

Gail Shields-Miller - Dining area with steer-horned glass-topped dining table, Luc Roymans Photography.
Dining area with steer-horned glass-topped dining table, Luc Roymans Photography.

Gail’s background is, perhaps, untypical for an interior designer. She was a top chemistry student and studied speech pathology and audiology. But she was also always artistic with a love of painting and sculpting. When she was offered a chance to join her mother in an interior design business she seized the opportunity.

Gail Shields-Miller, Cerulean blue Venetian plaster accent wall with custom stainless steel barn doors, separating MBR suite from main living area. Michael Stratton Photography.
Cerulean blue Venetian plaster accent wall with custom stainless steel barn doors, separating MBR suite from main living area. Michael Stratton Photography.

Gail’s distinctive style is perhaps most evident in her own home. I love the contrast of the polished brown limestone floor, the stainless steel barn door and the cerulean blue Venetian plaster walls. .  “Two men came from Venice to do the plaster,” she says “and it just works, I love how it reflects the color of the pool.”

Gail Shields-Miller, 1960’s chair and mirrored chest. Michael Stratton Photography.
1960’s chair and mirrored chest. Michael Stratton Photography.

I tell Gail that I see Mid-Century influence in some of her work and she agrees. “I am very tuned into it but would never just use it on its own.” She says. “I always mix it up, I can appreciate an object for itself but need to mix it in. If you just use pieces from one era it is more like a reproduction. I appreciate each style but don’t want to be a purist – blend it in!”

We talk a little about trends and changing tastes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gail is looking forward to people rediscovering their taste for color and excitement. “I can’t wait for the beige and white rooms with all that dark wood to start disappearing.” She says. “Brown has replaced black and now purple. Of course, I have been using purple for years.”

‘Her Bath’ in Kips Bay Decorator Show House in New York City. Peter Rymwid Photography.

Like other designers Modenus talks to, Gail says her clients are increasingly sophisticated and demanding. “They want to include their own finds, to have a lot of input, they are very informed. You have to offer them a lot of value and offer them something else; you need to show people that they need you.” Gail also delights in the growing internationalism both in people’s tastes and business opportunities. She tells me she is working with someone promoting interior design in China. “I would die to do a house in China.”

Gail is optimistic, that’s the sort of person she is. “Everything that goes around comes around. People are cautious at the moment so we need to offer value and not be run of the mill.”  And there is nothing ‘run of the mill’ about Gail.

Gail. Robert Kim Photography.

 

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