“When program, context, precedent and people are your palette, masterpieces emerge,” says Kirk Nix, head of KNA Design. And masterpieces are something he’s become known for. Nix, who manages all aspects of the firm’s myriad projects, recently launched a line of mirrors with Mirror Image Hospitality and just this month completed work on the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, including its new French brasserie, Antoinette, helmed by two-Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn. Before the designer delves deeper into the many things that await him this year (scuba diving in the Maldives, a new book, a lighting line, a new office in Atlanta, and commercial and residential projects across Southern California and beyond), we asked him to join our Designers We Love column. Read on for insight into one of the busiest men in the biz.
How would you describe your aesthetic? Every project, no matter how minor or major presents us with an abundance of influences that charges us with an extraordinary opportunity to design interior experiences of great distinction. I strive for elegance and timelessness.
How did you get started in the business? I was drawn to beauty at an early age, as were many young impressionable folks. I taught myself to draw so that I could communicate ideas, and that evolved into transforming interior spaces. Experience has taught me that creativity isn’t just an aesthetic, it’s a way of doing business. And experience isn’t how long you’ve been doing something, but how creatively you’ve been doing it.
From where or what sources do you derive creative inspiration? Travel has broadened the horizons of this Alabama boy. I encourage all the designers in my office to get out there and see what’s new—it’s an exciting time to be part of the design community. Our only limits are our imagination.
If you could reside on a Hollywood film set from any era, what would it be and why? There are two options that come to mind: The Sutton Place apartment of Rosalind Russell’s Auntie Mame evolved with the lead character and played a major role in the film. It was true theatre and gave credibility to the movie’s credo that life is a banquet and most poor fools are starving to death! My secret childhood favorite still recalls the stately front porch of Tara in Gone with the Wind, and to this day anytime I see a southern colonial with columns along the front, it brings a wealth of warm memories.
What takes a kitchen or bath from ordinary to extraordinary? From authenticated old world European interiors to pure and progressively modern environments, we are constantly developing a universe of solutions. Careful selection of materials and attention to the quality of the end product creates the happiest result. Keeping the concept unique to the owner can separate the men from the boys.