Take Ten with Grey Lux
Grey Lux is building a network of artisans to push the boundaries of handmade products. With a background in fine art and interior design, he is perfectly poised to create a seamless experience for vendors and designers alike. The company's vendor offerings include bespoke lighting, fabrics, pottery, and paintings that can be customized to your liking. When asked about his brand he proudly stated, "We are fortunate to have so many local resources that are capable of partnering with designers and their clients from conception to installation. There’s a difference in a product where the designer has collaborated with the artisan. It’s more personal and special...as it should be.” Grey gave us the scoop on how he selects the best products in design and his journey to becoming the man behind Grey Lux.
With 17 years of industry experience, how did you get your start in interior design?
Grey Lux: I started as a Fine Art Painter and then ended up working in Interior Designer right out of college. The principal of a design firm in NYC took a shine to me, and I worked with them for 5 years. It wasn’t at all what I had set out to do, but it ended up being an amazing learning experience––head first into this industry.
What was your previous profession or expertise? Professional or educational training?
GL: Since my background was originally in fine arts, everything I learned about Interior Design was through job experience- a true baptism by fire. The firm I worked with in NYC was very active, and I managed over 30 full-scale residential projects. It was a critical developmental step in my career which gave me a true understanding of all the details it takes to create a space. Wanting to learn more about how things were made, I moved to San Francisco in 2007 to focus on product production and sales.
Can you tell us a little bit about an upcoming project/line that you're proud of?
GL: I just launched my designer resource company, Grey Lux, which is built around offering bespoke artisanal product from strong vendor partners. It’s been a labor of love, but we have put together a really interesting mix of lighting, fabrics, pottery, paintings, and wallpapers . One of the new additions is a textile collection, ‘Lauren Hwang New York’, which has some of the most beautiful fabrics I’ve ever seen.
What design trends are you most excited about and/or wishing would go away?
GL: I will always be a fan of handmade material. Whether it’s a particularly beautiful blown piece of glass, a handmade piece of pottery or a custom block printed wallpaper… there’s a quality to a handmade product that is tactile and visual - it tells a story of the craft of the material and the love of the process the maker has. It’s always something I look for, both in the collections I partner with and in my own interior space.
When a client or designer steps into the Grey Lux studio space, how do you want them to feel?
GL: I want clients to feel confident and to be inspired by the collections, welcomed by the staff, and assured that they are in good hands. It’s not just about a sale, it’s about the relationship and the community. We have a very special Interior Design community here in The Bay, and many talented local resources. I want to support that.
What inspires you about the vendors that you’re connected with?
GL: I’ve been fortunate to work with the majority of my vendors for several years, and most of them are within driving distance of the San Francisco Design Center. Because of their custom capabilities and proximity, we have worked closely on all of our projects and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know them. They are real people, they care about the projects and the designers we work with, and they go above and beyond at any opportunity. It’s a strong partnership that gives me and our designers confidence throughout the process.
How do you go about connecting with vendors and what goes into your decision to collaborate?
GL: As a foundation, I look for partnership opportunities with vendors that have a unique point of view, a product that is set apart from other comparable items on the market, and the service to stand behind it. After that, it’s all about connecting and seeing if it’s the right fit.
What makes you unique and sets you apart from other vendors?
GL: Because of the many hats I’ve worn, I have an understanding all aspects of the design process; as a maker, a seller, a designer, and a client. With this mixture of experience, I can push the boundaries of the products I offer - helping designers become inspired, troubleshoot, and reinvent materials to suit their project needs. With the custom capabilities of my vendors, we can make it all happen and will guide you throughout the process.
Outside the world of design, what inspires you? Where does this inspiration come from?
GL: I am inspired by nature and exploring its beauty - which is a big part of living in the Bay. Like all of us in this industry, I am constantly looking at interiors and furniture. I travel to other parts of the USA and other countries to see how regional lifestyles and environments change design, and what local hand-crafted products are made there. I also am inspired by functionality - it’s usually my hunt for a particular item for myself that leads me to finding something I can bring to market.
What are your thoughts on the future of design?
GL: In this new technological era, clients are used to instant gratification. Things move at such a fast pace that it can become rote to go with the easy machine-made option. But good design takes time, bespoke material can’t be rushed, and ‘imperfections’ should be celebrated. It’s such a breath of fresh air to work within the SF Bay design community where handmade is not only understood- it’s sought after. I see designers guide their clients through the craft of the pieces they are carefully selecting for their homes. The client learns about a technique they might not have even known existed, and they take that knowledge and pride with them when they take their pieces home. It’s a different and personal way to create that involves the artisan, the designer, and the end client.