Over the course of his three-decade career, designer Roy Sklarin has meticulously custom-tailored nearly unfathomable projects, from megayachts, luxury estates, and fanciful penthouses to fine dining venues and hyper-affluent pieds-à-terre. His reputation for unprecedented design, synergy, and on-schedule execution has allowed him to establish Sklarin Interiors as a worldwide design powerhouse.
His career path seems inevitable. Eschewing common childhood dreams of becoming a professional athlete or superhero, as a boy, Sklarin idealized his father, an architect who built a career during the Depression. He was exposed to a world of planning, design, and construction throughout his upbringing, and when he graduated from high school at the blithe age of 15, he chose to pursue an architectural degree from Pratt Institute. Upon graduation, he went to work for well-known architects, a career move that led him to realize his true passion: interior design. “My father used to say to me, ‘If you love what you do, then you’ll be the best at it,’” Sklarin says, “And I really find that to be true.”
In the mid-60s, when Sklarin was but 21 years old, he opened his own design firm in upstate New York. Despite his vernal age, he had vision light years ahead of his time; for an early project, he created one of the era’s first discos, called Backstage, complete with a rarely-before-seen acrylic dance floor. In 1974, his next venture channeled his nautical dreams, moving him to buoyant South Florida in the pursuit of creating interior and exterior yacht designs. In the late-70s, when yachts were uniformly red, white, and blue with white hulls and traditional interiors, Sklarin transformed the status quo by reimagining yachts as spectacular and contemporary homes. He introduced novel colors like burgandy and green to the yachting world, broke through ceilings to make rooms two-stories high, and adapted multi-level lighting.
While he started with small companies like Azimut and Striker, Sklarin dreamed bigger—mega-big, in fact. He reached out to a number of large yacht builders around the world about his ambitions of designing a yacht that would measure more than 100 feet—an unheard of length at the time. His calls were answered, and his dream job came in the form of the 110-foot Benetti design named Night Crossing, from Australian-based Lloyd Ships. Sklarin went to work refitting the yacht inside and out. In 1984, the Night Crossing team presented Sklarin’s sleek-sailing pièce de résistance at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. She received rave reviews and was featured on the covers of major magazines. Night Crossing was Sklarin’s undeniable launch into the wonderful world of megayachts, and for 11 years, he continually revolutionized conservatively designed ships of the past into alluring alcazars of the seas. The cutting-edge designs for Night Crossing—black and cream coloring, multi-height ceilings, striping to camouflage the portholes, piping around the front salon— subsequently were applied to numerous yachts built in Florida at the time. Prominent names, from the likes of the du Pont family to the big leagues of the sea including Bradford Marine and Roscioli Yachts, came knocking on Sklarin’s superiorly constructed door in search of catching his new wave of yacht design. He was the first interior designer to earn the International Lighting Engineer Award, beating out huge projects due to his work using unique lighting like neon. But yachting interiors would not be Roy Sklarin’s final calling, and he went from breaking Champagne across bows to breaking ground in residential design.
California dreaming all of his life, in 1985, Sklarin forged west to a coast on which he has now loved living for almost three decades. Upon arrival, he relinquished the ropes of yacht design and began his residential design firm. Sklarin Interiors is marked by drama and elegance on a grandiose level and prides itself on a range of aesthetics, from Sklarin’s preferred contemporary style to traditional interiors. His design team has traveled the world placing its Midas touch on whimsical projects in diversifying locales from Hawaii, California, Vegas, and New York, to Rio and France. Sklarin’s elite list of clientele boasts names like Cargill MacMillan, two executive vice presidents of IBM, George Barrie of Fabergé, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., and the former president and CEO of Motorola. What’s more, these high rollers keep coming back to Sklarin again and again. “About 90 percent of our current business is from repeat clients,” Sklarin states.