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Meet the Designer: Philip Mitchell

HG Design

Philip Micthell

Meet the Designer

We asked designer Philip Mitchell of Philip Mitchell Design Inc. what fuels his work. The designer — who has built an international presence based on his modern maximalist look — has a passion for spaces that convey style, personality and often, historical and architectural references. With offices in Toronto and New York, Mitchell's interiors combine form, function and balance with a people-ready, casually elegant style that complements the personalities and lifestyles of his clients. His first book, Collected Interiors: Rooms That Tell a Story, launches next month. In it, the designer's talent for blending tradition with family heirlooms, contemporary art and accessories comes to life, showcasing visually creative environments brimming with personality, authenticity and warmth.

HG: How would you define your style?


PM: I would say that I’m a bit of a modern maximalist, though I prefer not to be defined by one specific style as my approach to design is to create distinctive layered living spaces that complement the unique personalities and lifestyles of each client. I create interiors that combine form, function and balance with a gracefully edited selection of fine furnishings, art and accessories, with a special emphasis on customization and appreciation of detail.

HG: When did you first become interested in design?


PM: Well, I think that true style isn't at all about trend, but about the people and places that make up your world. My mother taught me that style came from within so being raised between the Canadian countryside and the urban lifestyle of Los Angeles I developed a love of both traditional and contemporary styles from a very early age. It was this mix and my mother’s encouragement that inspired my interest in design. I was surrounded by different worlds that triggered my curiosity and creativity. And it was not about one look or one style, it was about creating a sense of home. I now love the feeling I get from helping clients create their homes that reflect who they are.

HG: What inspires you?


PM: Travel would be at the top of my list. By travelling the world, walking the streets, looking at the architecture, these different experiences are the best way for me to spark new ideas. Equally important when I talk about inspiration is art. Good art tells stories, whether it's a painting, sculpture, song, or writing. It serves as a means for us to escape and shift our perspective. When I'm curating art with my clients, I encourage them to purchase what they love and what speaks to them so that they too are inspired by their surroundings and have a collection that tells their story.


HG: Where's your happy place?


PM: My happy place is definitely the east coast of Canada. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a home in Nova Scotia for the last 10 years. It is the perfect combination of ocean living and traditional small-town charm. The east coast offers so many amazing experiences - the natural beauty of the rolling sea, beaches, lakes and farmland. This, combined with its rich culture and welcoming people, makes it second to none for me.

HG: What's your favourite part of the design process?


PM: In creating unique homes for each client, getting to know and understand them is key. Everything from what makes them tick to what inspires them and their history helps me design homes for them to enjoy and a space that truly reflects their point of view. What makes one person feel cozy may make another feel unsettled. What energizes one can be overwhelming to another, and so on. It’s this opportunity that I'm entrusted with by my clients that I really love.

HG: Styling tip?


PM: A coffee table is a perfect place where you can display books, treasured items and collections. I like to create visual interest by mixing shapes and textures. Pair curved items with straight, shiny with dull, textured with smooth, and hard with soft. Flowers add a burst of freshness, contrasting textures, and life to the table and the room. Blossoms allow you to change the colour combinations throughout the seasons.

HG: Best entertaining tip?


PM: I think the most important entertaining tip is to make it special. It’s the company that counts… and, of course, the tablescape. If you pull out the same dishes, glassware and tablecloth for every gathering, it’s time to change it up. Play with what you have. If you inherited traditional floral china, add glass plates in jewel tones to the table and mix in some contemporary flatware to update it. Instead of white napkins, use coloured or patterned linen ones to add interest. Create floral arrangements out of multiple small vases to form a low centrepiece so that the room feels more inviting and opens up conversation across the table. After you set the table, dim the lights, light the candles, mix a pitcher—or three—of martinis and then enjoy. Hosting friends and family should be a joy, not a chore.

Coveted by Philip Mitchell

"As someone who loves a good martini, beautiful glassware can make all the difference to the experience. The exquisite silhouette, skewer-thin stem, and light-as-air mouth-blown fluted crystal coupe by Richard Brendon is a favourite choice of mine. Coupe glasses are ideal for cocktails served “up,” meaning they are shaken or stirred with ice and then served chilled, without ice, like a martini. These artisanal coupes combine just the right amount of traditional and contemporary elements to create a progressive, yet timeless stemware."

"Another go-to favourite is the ivory boucle Alpaca throw, especially as the days and nights get cooler. Woven entirely by hand by Peruvian Alpaca experts, this throw is as luxuriously soft as it gets and instantly adds personality and texture to any living space. It’s one of those simple luxuries you don’t realize you're missing until you’ve wrapped yourself in it."