A Sense of Place with Designer Celerie Kemble

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Celerie Kemble by Douglas Friedman
Celerie Kemble by Douglas Friedman

Interior designer Celerie Kemble grew up in Palm Beach, at the feet of her mother—also a celebrated designer. This foundation laid the groundwork for her aesthetic, but her  design vernacular has grown so much wider, it’s verifiably global.  Kemble Interiors, the design firm she runs with her mother Mimi McKakin, has offices in New York, London, and of course, Palm Beach. Kemble has done important collaborations with F. Schumacher, Maitland-Smith and Henredon Furniture. And, she has even penned two design books— Celerie Kemble: To Your Taste: Creating Modern Rooms with a Traditional Twist and Black and White: And Bit in Between.

HL: You started off in film production before designing. Do you approach a home like the ultimate set?

CK: The part about interior design that is most like a film set is the number of crafts people and trades it takes to make it complete. I think I learned to love the process, the many sources of input, and the reliance on the artisan from film.

HL: How would you describe your personal design ethos?

CK: It is pretty simple—I like pretty things with soul to them and I love combining many distinctive elements or styles to create a completely different vernacular. I like design that has and expresses real personality.

HL: Do you feel Kemble Interiors is responsible for perpetuation the famous look and feel of Palm Beach? 

CK: Absolutely. We are now 5 generations of Palm Beachers who love the town and work in the design business. I can’t count the number of houses, clubs, and restaurants that our company has done, but I love to think that our work is now woven into the fiber of the town.

HL: Do you have your own golden rule of design?

CK: I always think about how a design will age. I would like the work I do to be longstanding and timeless because there is beauty in age. Patina is what makes something more than just an object.

HL: You’ve done a lot of collaborations, of which are you most proud?

CK: I’d have to say the evolution of my furniture and accessories line with Henredon and Maitland-Smith. We’re now over 230 pieces, which is just jaw-dropping for me when I think about it.

HL: What is your favorite thing about being in Palm Beach when you are there?

CK: Watching my kids play on the same lawn or take the same bike path that I did as a child.

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