We sit down with Brazilian interior designer Andre Mellone, the face of New-York-based practice Studio Mellone.
Andre Mellone made his est debut in January of this year in our Creative State of Mind issue, coming in as one of 30 names to know for 2023. Established in 2012, Andre’s Manhattan studio primarily spans high-end residential projects, with a small complementary portfolio of residential and commercial projects. Revered for his rigorous and intuitive approach to interiors, Andre has had a loyal following in New York for many years now; it was only a matter of time before he was recognised on a global scale.
Outside of your own practice, how does design – whether that be interior design or another kind – have an influence on you?
Andre Mellone: When you are part of the design world, I think you instinctively have an interest in everything design related. I knew from a young age that I belonged in this world; I come from a very creative family; my father is an industrial designer, my aunt is a fashion designer and my Grandma is a painter. I don’t think I could be an interior designer without taking into consideration other types of design – fashion and art especially. To me, all these things are interconnected.
What about the way you design reflects your Brazilian roots?
Andre Mellone: I was born and raised in Brazil and moved to New York City to study architecture. When I graduated from university I worked for very ‘American’ firms – neo-classical and traditional. Over the years, as I’ve built my own firm, I’ve shaped my practice more and more around my roots. The Modernist movement that took place in Brazil is especially prominent in my work today.
What do you love most about designing in New York?
Andre Mellone: I’ve been here for 27 years and after all these years I still believe that there’s nowhere more exciting to work than New York. People are always coming here, which generates a lot of work for interior designers.
I also like big cities; I was born and raised in Sao Paulo, which is even bigger than New York. Architecturally, I like the way the city works; I like that you can still walk to places; there aren’t many cities in America where you can still do that.
In your ‘esteemed 10’ interview, you said that the first thing you notice when you walk into a space is the way it makes you feel. What emotions are you often trying to elicit from your clients?
Andre Mellone: I want them to feel excited, but at the same time relaxed. There’s also a certain sensuality to my projects, which I think comes from Brazil. So, excited, relaxed and sexy.
You were also quoted as saying common sense is essential as a designer. Could you speak further on why?
Andre Mellone: Having studied architecture, I was at first a little reluctant to transition into interior design; it was almost heretical if you came from an architecture background. It took a while for me to understand that I could approach interior design through the lens of architecture. When I talk about common sense, I’m talking about the way you arrange a space – does it make sense architecturally? Intuition is a powerful thing in interior design. When in doubt, go with your first instinct.
What have you got planned for 2023? What can we look forward to?
Andre Mellone: We’re keeping our bread and butter with a handful of New York apartments, but we’ve also got one house on the go in Los Angeles and two on the go in Miami. For the first time ever, we’re also doing a ski lodge in Jackson, Wyoming.
You design residential spaces in one of the world’s biggest cities. What are some ways that architects and interior designers can adapt the way they work to combat rising populations and climate change?
Andre Mellone: I don’t profess to be ahead of the game by any means, but I will say that we are making more of a concerted effort to source things locally. The problem with sourcing things from overseas is that they have to be packaged up, put on a plane and shipped over, and there’s a carbon cost associated with that.
But I won’t lie and say that it hasn’t been a struggle. Our clients are after luxury, which we often associate with ‘rare’ and ‘difficult to source’. We now have to shift that mindset and change the definition of luxury to mean ‘made locally’.
We still buy some pieces from Europe but instead of shipping them all individually, we try to concentrate the shipments to reduce our carbon footprint. The more small steps we can take, the closer we get to this new norm.
Somewhere that inspires you? Portugal
Someone that inspires you? My boyfriend
Favourite three materials to work with? Wood, bronze and marble
Something you want to see more of this year? Individuality