FINE Magazine

Modern Family: Global
Influences on Home Decor

From the Family Room to the Kitchen, We Love Global Influences on Home Decor

article by Robin Satterwhite
photos by ASETTI

For a long time, interior design has brought international flavor into our intimate lives. In the past, incorporating international designs into our daily lives was a trying task; we relied on limited knowledge imported from foreign designers and - if we were lucky - our own travels. While knick-knacks, photographs and other souvenirs from these soul-enriching and educational adventures are memorabilia to be proud of, you can easily trade in tchotchkes for mature design elements, thanks in large part to technological advancements. Today's technology provides us with the opportunity to bring designers from other countries into our homes - without need for them to even be on the same continent.


Neil from Neil McLachlan Designs in New Zealand is an interior designer who ships the flavor of New Zealand all the way to California. His clients can easily incorporate flavor from below the equator into their homes, without either party investing in the additional expenses of travel. The proof can be seen throughout the homes of his multiple clients around the world.

In order to bridge the challenges of distance with these clients, Neil has successfully used tools like Facetime to collaborate with clients. He'll call from local antique stores and show his clients a selection of different, authentic options and ideas for their design. The design style of New Zealand and Australia is unique, delivering a more colonial vibe, a relaxed sophistication that follows in the vein of Ralph Lauren. An effort is made to incorporate contemporary design into the 19th century buildings by using natural materials like wood, stone and glass (all of which are currently trending). Both of these countries embrace the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that is so popular in subtropical locations similar to our own. Neil also points out that these countries are very "New World" - they're full of immigrants and travelers who influence the region's personal style; he personally incorporates his own experiences in France and London into his designs. As a client-oriented designer, he is proud of being open to his client's personal style, rather than dominating his designs with his own, personal taste (a flaw of many stateside designers).


Japan is a country known for its graceful beauty and vibrant culture rife with arts and tradition. Tokyo's Hashimoto Yukio of Hashimoto Yukio Design Studio Inc. is aware of his native city's devotion to tradition, and focuses on that element in his designs - but he also likes to embrace innovation and is always looking for new, creative components. Like Neil in New Zealand, Hashimoto also likes to incorporate natural materials into his designs, like stone and wood, as well as lots of stucco (soil/mud). Here in California, we may not be too familiar with stucco artisans, but they're persistently popular in Japan.

As is locally traditional, Hashimoto tends to work with clean lines and classic colors, like vibrant vermillion and jet black (typical lacquer colors in Japan). For authentic furniture, he uses companies that provide traditional Japanese materials such as T.C.K.W. Throughout his designs, he enjoys incorporating customary materials in creative ways, like using Kimono fabric in sofas and curtains.


In Southeast Asia, the designers of Asetti share their regional style through luxury designs in celebrity villas and super homes. Designing founder Chris Clayton says that every client's personal style is incorporated through classic design styles, like Tuscan, colonial, shabby chic, tropical, art deco and minimalist, as well as international styles like Balinese, Thai, traditional Chinese, and even sacred spiritual styles, like the Hindu system of architecture Vastu and Japanese Buddhist Zen.

Chris points out that California has already adopted many of the spiritual beliefs of Southeast Asia and you can frequently see these incorporated into home design. But without authenticity, time and experience, combining these styles can end up, as Chris says, as a "rather tacky mix of brash styles that simply do not work."

The popularity of these styles in Southern California has lead to many inquiries from local homeowners to international designers like Chris, as can be seen in the profusion of current high-end requests hailing form Beverly Hills.

Chris believes that your home should be a place of refuge, peace and harmony, but also hold a soul of its own. The influence of living in a Buddhist country gives designers like the team at Asetti a special edge on the spiritual side of home design. Finding a designer who knows the markets, locations and suppliers for what a client wants is integral to the authenticity of the design. This requires a designer who can verify the legitimacy of the materials in person.

Home design is like a jigsaw puzzle; amassing different pieces from your many travels can be fun, but often ends in a messy result. But a little design research can go a long way; you can easily incorporate worldly elements into your personal, Californian designs with the help of a little research, a foreign designer, or a combination of both. Working with a designer who knows the best materials and where to get them at the lowest cost can also save you a little cash. Reign in some global flavor with the help of international design to make your home feel like the ultimate destination.


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