T Lo Interviews Top Design Nathan Thomas
Darlings, we got our gay on in a big way and sat down with S2 Top Design winner Nathan Thomas. We laughed through the whole thing. Enjoy!
Hey Nathan, how are you?
Great, I’ve been dying to talk to you guys.
Oh my god, really? Have you been reading our blog?
Absolutely. You guys are brilliant.
Oh, that’s so sweet, thank you. We’re thrilled that you won. We know you’ve been asked this a million times, but how did it feel to win Top Design?
It was very surreal. It had this very dream-like quality to it and I’ve said this other times. I didn’t really believe it. I didn’t. I was standing there saying to myself ‘This isn’t happening.’ I’m going to wake up and they’re going say ‘Preston, you just won’ or ‘Ondine, you just won’ or I was not even on the show. It was overwhelming, but when it did settle in and Kelly looking at me and smiling and I knew I had really won.
It’ll be great to have your work featured in ELLE DECOR for the world to see.
I’m thrilled. God, there are lots of decorators and designers that work for years and never get even into Margaret’s email.
Absolutely. I think it was such a worthwhile experience. I don’t regret anything about it. Sure, I wonder here, I fucked up a few things, but it was really a great experience.
You’ve talked a lot about your mother and her townhouse having influenced you as a designer. We thought it was hysterical when you mentioned that you used to fan your mother’s magazines because we used to do the same thing.
You know that’s really weird because I didn’t think I was honing my skills. I was a young gay boy and it really was, it was such an inspiring space. My mother had gorgeous Danish furniture, which I had no idea what it was. I oiled it, I dusted it and it became my hobby. Everybody was playing football after school and I was rearranging the house. Going back to it now, I think ‘Oh my god, I was fanning out the Cosmos.’ I just want to slap my mother. What are doing reading Cosmo?
Without a doubt, I think in design…if we’re talking about that. [Laughs]
Well, we’ll get to that part of Nathan later [Laughs]
You guys can call me another day for another interview. As far as design, it can be so boring. Why not do something fun, crazy and out there? Go for it, don’t be afraid. Be brave and learn from your major mistakes and if you’re not brave, you’re just being safe.
Do you consider yourself an interior designer or a decorator? We know. That’s a tough one to answer.
I have the skills and the training to do designing. When we think about interiors, I guess I’m thinking about it more structurally too. Going into a space and altering it as far as changing a wall, knocking down or putting up a wall, which we were not able to do it on the show, but I would also call myself a designer in the sense that I designed furniture on the show. I made highly flammable paper-plate chandelier, which would never pass code.
You have one in your own apartment too, right?
Yes, I do. I love it. And you know, limited resources; I was really into paper plates on the show.
Thank you. That was very cool. And the story behind it is that I wasn’t able to get the artwork that I wanted from a store. I was finagling my way into getting it, being very tricky, but Bravo shut me down, so I made my own painting.
Your taste in art and accessories is exquisite. You always picked very unique and strong pieces.
I adore accessories and art. It’s very much part of my life. I think it needs to and has to be part of every interior space. It brings such a life and personality to a space.
It looks like you displayed them randomly without necessarily following a theme. Do you think about a theme when you put them together?
I think in the work that I did on the show and in the work I do professionally I think there is a theme kind of involved in selecting things, but I guess to answer that in the other way, anybody can go to Crate and Barrel and look on the shelves and see how they coordinated items, bring them home and do the exact same thing, but it’s so much more fun to hunt down things, marry some things; it’s like oil and vinegar.
I wanted to ride the horse. [Laughs]
Clearly. Seriously, who comes up with shit like that? You say ‘I want that horse for the child’s room.’ [Laughs]
You know, it was what that room was about, a fantasy. It was about being over the top, being crazy, being a kid. As a kid, did you not want a horse in your room?
[Lorenzo] I want a horse all the time, darling.
Child, I know you do. Tom, what do you say to that?
[Tom] I’m just sitting here shaking my head.
You better go get a horse.
Also, the huge Indian chest, which instantly becomes the focal point of a room.
Right. Well, that thing was horrible. It was a beautiful piece but it needed an 18 X 20 size of room. It was just completely overscaled. It was pretty horrible because I stole everybody’s movers to bring in that lead box. I finally said ‘It’s staying, it’s done.’
The townhouse for the final challenge had a strange layout, didn’t it? The kitchen, for example, was larger than the living-room. Was that a challenge?
It was a little bizarre because you walk in and you’re presented with a staircase. You just walk in from the door and you have to go upstairs. That space that was called the living-room, which I made the foyer, kind of entry, vestibule idea, made sense to me, so yes, the layout was bizarre, but it’s a townhouse. It doesn’t really have that flow.
The dining-room; I think it had my heart and soul in it. I designed the table; I made the chandelier and did the painting…It spoke a lot about me. It was fun.
Now about the shelves in the office, were you inspired by Donald Judd’s sculptures?
Yes, they’re very much Donald Judd inspired.
That’s why you didn’t have anything on them?
Yes, they were supposed to act as a sculpture. It was not about adding accessories to them. They were supposed to read as a Donald Judd/Pantone paint chip.
I think the worlds collide very well, fashion and interior, obviously one bounces off the other. The powerhouses like Martin Margiela or Comme des Garçons. They really pushed the envelope in their work and in their designs. I find that so relative to interiors. I think interiors go beyond the 1-2-3 Reader’s Digest idea. I think interiors are fashion, so I’m constantly influenced by fashion and where it is and where it’s been. For example, Balenciaga is constantly pulling from the past and putting it into the now. The same thing happens in interiors; we go back to French provincial furniture and reinterpret it in some way.
We asked Margaret Russell when we interviewed her w hat would be the Little Black Dress in interior and she said it would be the Parsons table.
I did a Parsons table. Yes, it is. It’s fantastic. I did a Parsons table; I did a Parsons inspired bed for the boy’s room for the final challenge. That’s very true, you take your classics and work around them.
How was your relationship with everybody on the show? Did you get along with pretty much everybody?
I got along with everybody. In the beginning I had a few run-ins with a few people, but it was easy. I didn’t have to deal with them too much.
What about Wisit?
Wisit was my boy. He was my roommate. My heart goes out to him. I love Wisit. He’s a great guy.
Eddie and I are friends and I think that everybody thought we would not be friends. He lives very close to where I live. I see him and talk to him often. Prior to this interview, Andrea called me to congratulate me. I’m very close with the two of them, and Ondine and I, we text.
Ondine had a very interesting room too. We thought it was between you and her, but we weren’t sure which way the judges were going to go.
I know, I read your blog. You guys thought she was winning.
It looked like towards the end the judges were falling for her and getting tired with you.
Yes, I agree. They all of a sudden hated me.
Well, they loved you at the end. What did you think of the judges?
Margaret is incredibly well-spoken and she’s got a wonderful eye. I have high regards for her. I think all the judges had wonderful criticism and commentary and everything that was said, not only to me but to the other contestants, I listened to. I think Todd has a wonderful role giving you advices and acting as a friend. I have really good feelings about all of them. They’re all incredibly talented…
Even Jeff Lewis?
Oh, Christ. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff…
He’s a character, isn’t he?
He’s a character, and you know what? He has built his empire as well and he made good TV.
Oh, I want it. She got some flack and you guys are so good at it too. When she came out with her turban and socks and heels, I was so impressed. It was like she was hung over, had to go the grocery store, put on her socks and heels and came to the judging.
What’s next for Nathan? We know you have a new website.
I’m really hoping to brand myself into furniture, textiles, and wallpaper. I’ll continue to do interiors. I’m hoping to move on, I want to do cutting edge; I want to push the envelope and continue to.
Thank you so much, darling, and best of luck to you.
[Photos: Bravotv.com/Artsconnected.org - Screencaps: Tomandlorenzo.blogspot.com]