Designers, design aficionados, and fans of Thom Filicia converged at the Las Vegas Design Center last month for a conversation moderated by Vegas editor-in-chief Andrea Bennett.
A residence at Grace Bay Club in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Since Thom Filicia launched his design firm, Thom Filicia Inc., in 1998, he has designed outdoor lounges for Delta Airlines at Hartsfeld-Jackson International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport; an eco-friendly apartment in the Riverhouse, Manhattan’s first LEED-certified green condo tower; guest rooms and the new residences at the Grace Bay Club in the Turks and Caicos Islands; and interiors for clients such as Tina Fey and Jennifer Lopez. But some of his most ardent fans knew him first as the interior design expert on the Emmy Award–winning show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where he was charged with transforming the living spaces of some particularly challenging clients.
How did you land Queer Eye? I was in my Soho office, and my dog, Paco, had been in the office the whole day. It was early Friday evening and a lot of people were leaving, and our elevator got stuck between floors. To calm down some of the panicking women, I said that hot firemen would come save us, but my dog might have an accident. The girls were like, “What do you do?” I exchanged numbers with one, and soon I was getting a call about this new show.
A living room in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Our topic for the evening is “Decorating from Top to Bottom.” What does that mean to you? [It’s] all about making a space that’s holistic—that has a sense of soul and is rooted in the situation it’s in. In broad strokes, decorating right now is about creating a beautiful balance between modern and timeless, and embracing the idea that there are no rules. It’s about doing what visually makes sense: mixing and matching the rare and the everyday, shiny and matte. Design is much more about communication than ever.
The Thom Filicia Home Collection has partnered with everyone from Bosch to Safavieh to Kohler. Do you approach product design the same way as decorating? [As a team] we’re so hypersensitive to what’s going on in our business that often what we’re interested in becomes part of the social fabric nine months later. We’re always making sure we’re connecting, whether it’s [designing Architectural Digest’s] AD Oasis at Art Basel or doing outdoor lounges for airports. We’re even doing our first private plane right now.
What else are you working on? We’re doing a beautiful Georgian house in New York that’s a clean, fresh take on the interior, and at the same time a progressive, modern Beverly Hills house that we’re cooling down, as well as a really modern house outside Denver. We’re acclimating to different styles, and that’s the approach that’s so current.