Whether it’s designing for clients (a roster that includes celebrities like Steve Carell, Tom Skerritt and Jennifer Lopez) or working on television shows like A&E’s “Makeover Mammas” and HGTV’s “Designers’ Challenge,” Australia-born interior designer Mark Cutler is, quite simply, having fun. In our year-plus of doing the Designers We Love column, no one has yet suggested a Disney film as the set upon which they would want to live—but Cutler just did. The designer, who cut his teeth at William Hablinski Architecture before founding his firm in 2000, brims with joyful personality. “To me,” he says, “the world is one great enormous happy fantasy and I’m just here for the ride.” That freeing spirit allows the designer to focus his attention purely on the client, creating interiors he refers to as “portraits.” As we head into the holiday season, where our homes take on even deeper significance to us, it’s the perfect time to catch up with Cutler.
How would you describe your aesthetic? My aesthetic is probably most accurately described as “collected.” I really enjoy combining pieces from different periods and styles to create homes that feel timeless. I want the home not to look decorated in the formal sense, rather, it should feel like it’s grown over time with pieces inherited, bought and well used.
How did you get started in the business? Well, that’s sort of a long story but I grew up in Australia and wanted to be an architect. After working in the field in Australia, New York, London and Paris (yes, I like to travel), an opportunity presented itself here in Los Angeles to do the interiors of a home—I jumped on it and loved the experience. And as they say, the rest is history.
From where or what sources do you derive creative inspiration? I’ve lived all around the world so there is certainly that influence in my work but my greatest inspiration comes from my clients themselves. I think of interior design as a form of portraiture; each home is a true reflection of the people who live there. That keeps the designs fresh and me totally engaged.
If you could reside on a Hollywood film set from any era, what would it be and why? That’s a tough one... I would probably go with one of the Disney classics. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am constantly walking on clouds with blue birds, butterflies and rainbows!
What takes a kitchen or bath from ordinary to extraordinary? With any room—kitchen, bath or otherwise, it’s the ability to create a personal expression of who you are, your past, your hopes, and your values. Each space I create truly tells the story of the people who live there. Without that, we’re just creating hotels. A home and each of its rooms should be a story. That will truly make it stand out as extraordinary.