GAIL SHIELDS-MILLER & DANIEL VANHALL

Why use a designer?
It has been proven that it takes 10,000 hours or 8 hours a day for 10 years to be an expert in any given field whether it be playing the piano, practicing law or being an Interior Designer. The10,000 hours or more likely in most cases the 30,000 hours of being enveloped in the work of practicing interior design that makes a designer worth their weight in gold. While many people have access to design through the internet and social media and pop culture it is the designer that has the practical knowledge to make it all come together in cohesive and thought out manner. A designer understands through experience all the obstacles and challenges, but also has the vision to make a space fully realized and its potential maximized. Putting together a well- appointed home takes hours of planning and organizing and by hiring a design professional people can spend that time on their own careers, families and passions.

Why shop the trade?
One of most misunderstood concepts of interior design is that designers shop at retail stores like everybody else. The majority of people do not realize the vast world of furniture and home accessories that are available to the design professionals. There are more choices than the lay person could ever imagine in style, price point and quality, not to mention all the ability to create custom unique pieces that complete a space perfectly. There is also a level of customer service, attention to detail that does not exist in retails stores.

What is your most valued design tip?
The best design tip I always share as cliché as it is “Less is More”. People have a tendency to collect and layer too much mediocre stuff. It is always better to invest in one nice thing then to fill a room with throw away home décor. I suggest to clean out all the clutter and focus on the most beautiful and meaningful items you own as they cannot shine when they are buried! Items need space around them to breath and the eye as it travels through an environment needs space to rest.

What makes your style unique?
The style that we have created here at Shields & Company is unique because it cannot be referenced by any other style. It is refined without being precious and it exquisitely planned and executed without looking overly decorated or contrived. I always joke that our spaces are never “matchy matchy”. There is an easiness about our curated interiors that transcend contemporary and traditional areas of design by bringing together furnishings from around the world and incorporating colorful accent tones in perfect harmony with more muted earth tones and rich materials.

Who is your design icon and why?
My favorite design Icon is Mark Foster Gage, a practicing architect, professor at Yale, and writer. Mr. Gage’s interdisciplinary firm combines emerging technologies, architecture and design in a truly unique and 21st century way by using virtual reality, 3d printing, robotics and spatial social media. I am captivated by his work because it always inspires me to think about interior design as differently as he thinks about architecture. I look at his awe inspiring works and think how could I expand upon them to create an interior that would be commensurate with the architecture it exists within. If you want to be taken to another world in another place and time check out the works of Mark Foster Gage.

Who is your favorite fashion designer?
When it comes to fashion Alexander McQueen is king. There is a romanticism and a darkness that is inherent in his bodies of work. The beautiful clothing or art that he creates is symbolic of the deeper nature of people’s psyches. I think this is important because our clothing has a profound effect on how we perceive ourselves and how the rest of the world perceives us thus becoming a mirror for us to understand ourselves and our culture. I believe every moment of our lives is an opportunity for fashion and great form of self expression and McQueen truly embodies this concept.

What is your favorite movie set?
My Personal favorite movie set is from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick 1968.
In one of the very last scenes the main character Dave ends up somewhere in space and time in a bedroom that has a white luminous floor and is appointed with Louis XVI furniture all in a monochromatic color scheme. I love the juxtaposition of these elements which leaves you wondering are you in the future or in the past. Great interiors have the ability to be forward thinking yet still referencing or paying homage to the past. Fascinatingly, Lady Gaga directly referenced this set in her music video Bad Romance, 2009. She also showcased the current Alexander McQueen show in the same video.

If you could live in a different time period, when would it be and why?
If I could live in any other time period I would live in the Golden Age in ancient Egypt when the great pyramids were built which we currently theorize is about 7,000 years ago. We are beginning to understand that this period of history was much more advanced than we are ever imagined. The society was highly evolved and benevolent and achieved high levels of consciousness, science and architecture that we have yet to understand today. I think it would be exciting and uplifting to live in such period of human history given my passion for art and creative pursuits and to have experienced the pyramids in their original splendor.