Design Files

Decorative Traces

Jessica Stambaugh and Danielle Mastrangelo are new kids on the block, but the talented design duo is already gaining recognition from the interior design industry as rising stars to watch. Upon meeting in a graduate course in the history of decorative arts, Danielle and Jessica knew they had found a kindred spirit in one another and decided to set up shop together. We chatted with the stylish pair about their design aesthetic, where to scoop up one-of-a-kind pieces and their future plans.

What抯 the biggest difference between being a design duo and working solo?
Danielle: I worked alone before I met Jessica. I think working as a duo has made me a better designer梚t抯 encouraging when you have someone else cheering for you, but she抯 also there to challenge me and talk me out of bad ideas because she sees everything differently. You only have your own eyes, and it抯 always better to have another set. Being part of a team allows me to be more creative; you question yourself so much when you抮e working on your own梐nd if you don抰 then you should.

Jessica: It抯 also allowed us to take on more projects. We抮e currently developing a retail aspect to our business, which would be impossible for just one person to do. It抯 also fun getting to work with your best friend!

Danielle: We actually established our business before we really knew each other and became better friends as a result of our professional relationship.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Danielle: Given that we抮e both trained as design historians, we抮e very invested in looking at fabrics and furnishings and contextualizing them in history.

Jessica: Our design aesthetic is also very intellectual. We抮e interested in the story that the fabrics and textures tell, which greatly informs our designs. We like to think that we have a traditional sensibility mixed with modern notes. We抮e not strict classicists or modernists, though卼here抯 a tailored, sophisticated eccentricity in our work.

Decorating/redecorating can seem like a daunting project. How does your creative process start?
Jessica: We can usually decode what the client is trying to get across in our initial meeting, even if they just don抰 have the language to communicate it. From there we gather a plethora of inspiration imagery to show them. Based on their reactions, we begin developing a furniture plan, picking out actual pieces, establishing a palette and so forth.

Danielle: I think what sets us apart is the attention we pay to accessorizing the space梬hich is partly why we expanded into retail. We pay a lot of attention to the accessories that make up the final layer which is what makes an interior feel unique, lived in and stylish. Other designers may bring you a coffee table, but we抣l bring you a beautiful vase or book to put on that coffee table.

Where is your favorite place to pick up furniture/d閏or?
Jessica: We always go to the Brimfield Antique Show. We often find inventory there and we always run into other designers from New York, so it抯 fun to catch up. In the city, we also love Showplace. They抮e a great source for midcentury lighting, mirrors, furniture and jewelry.

Danielle: We also go on monthly trips along the New England coast.

If you owned a salon, what would it look like? How would you furnish it?
Jessica: I抦 thinking exuberant Scalamandre wallpaper, plants everywhere, stations built out of beautiful wood卆 glamorous bohemian salon with a Moroccan tile floor, brass fittings and faucets and lots of layers of colors and patterns. We抎 have Oscar de la Renta design the outfits for our bohemian chic salon. Could you imagine the hairdressers in beautiful, big skirts that are beautifully embroidered?

Danielle: I could also see us doing a really clean, modern, urban salon. If we were to design a sleek, minimal salon we抎 have Phoebe Philo design the uniforms. We love Celine. All the hairdressers would be wearing austere tops and Nike sneakers.

What are some simple tips salon owners can implement to make a space feel new?
Danielle: Organizational systems are really important, especially in a space like a salon. Plants can also make a space feel beautiful. The type of pot you choose is very important. If you have a very modern interior, then put the plant in a beautiful white geometric planter or a stainless planter. Any plant can be beautiful if you have the right planter. Another easy way to give an interior a facelift is a fresh coat of paint梛ust make sure it抯 consistent with the interior that抯 not changing. I抎 also encourage salon owners to put the magazines in a basket and keep them crisp and fresh.

Jessica: Beautiful trays instantly make any surface feel more contained and finished. This could be a great way for hairdressers to display products or lay out their tools. The other thing I抎 bring in really great books and not just hair books. When I抦 in a salon, I just want to feel inspired. Maybe books about ornament and beauty would be great instead of just having the most recent fashion magazines.

Your favorite wall color?
Jessica: One of my favorites is Ming Jade by Benjamin Moore. There抯 also a beautiful Farrow & Ball color called Arsenic.

Danielle: I love a white called Blackened by Farrow and Ball. I also the color Moonlight White by Benjamin Moore梚t抯 just a perfect, soft white.

Where would you like to see Decorative Traces in 10 years?
Jessica: We抮e starting to develop the retail aspect of our business. We抎 like to be able to offer a full line of furniture and accessories so we can be a whole brand for your home. We don抰 want to lose the emphasis on the details, but we want to do it in a way that抯 accessible to more people.

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