Interior Designer Frank de Biasi Shares Infinite Love For Design, His Belief In Hard Work [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

Frank de Biasi
(Photo : Courtesy of Frank de Biasi Interiors - Designer Frank de Biasi)

We had the pleasure of speaking with New York-based interior designer Frank de Biasi.

What began as an appreciation for Georgian architecture later transformed into a deep fascination with European culture.

Born in Richmond, Va. and humbly sharing his recognition for the cultured childhood his family provided, Frank shares his enduring curiosity for new experiences and acknowledges the best decision he's ever made in his life is seizing every opportunity to travel.

It wasn't until he actually set foot on Parisian territory in college when his life was altered and his inherent interest for art and design passionately flourished. Even to this day, Frank continues to travel regularly and exposes himself to new creative individuals when he seeks inspiration.

He strongly believes in constantly fostering his abilities as a designer and is an avid proponent of hard work. Frank tells us, "Interior design is something that you build upon and you only do that through life experiences, of going to museums, learning a new language, traveling, absorbing culture, understanding how things are made, all of it. There is so much to be learned."

Frank is one of New York's highly coveted interior designers. Read our full interview with Frank de Biasi below.

MB: Who is Frank de Biasi as an individual and designer? Tell us a bit of your past experiences that have led you to be where you are today?

FB: For one thing I never studied design; I studied international affairs and French. I began at the University of Georgia and lived in Paris for a year. My trip to Paris was when I really fell in love with art history, design and everything that encompasses French culture. It was a really wonderful opportunity and experience that I feel very grateful for. Today, I am always pushing young people to go abroad because it is one of the best things I've ever done in my life.

After Paris, I returned to the states and graduated from George Washington in international affairs. After college, I moved to Spain and worked for a bank. After Spain, I came here to New York and found a job at Christies where I worked for 6 years.

Christies was the perfect opportunity for me to really see a huge volume of property and products. I really learned a lot while working in the appraisal department and I'd visit individuals' homes and began to truly understand how they put collections together, what they were thinking during the process and what their influences were.

These homes I would frequent were old properties from the '30s and '40s, I saw what past designers did back then and it was so inspiring to me.

(Photo : John Ellis - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Aspen Residence)


I really appreciated how great it was to work and learn within an auction house, but I really wanted to work more creatively. I thought about exploring what that would mean for me and I luckily got a job with Peter Marino.

Peter was wonderful and willing to take on someone (me) with no experience in design, but I spoke French and I was educated in art history along with my auction house experience. He trusted me, I began to work on several projects in France, some of the most incredible homes in Normandy right along the coast. I worked my way up and became Head of Interiors for Peter Marino and did all of the residential work. It was just spectacular.

MB: Tell us a bit about your style?

FB: My own personal style tends to be "more is more." But my clients prefer things to be subtler and my gift is really to understand what my clients' want, from who they are, what their lifestyle entails and how they want to see themselves.

That is really what I do. I don't have a big ego and I don't have a specific style, but I am able to offer my clients a really curated, special approach to an interior that is specifically tailored to them and their lifestyle.

That isn't for everybody. I don't get some work because you can't pin me down. There is no look. It is everything.


(Photo : John Ellis - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Aspen Residence)


MB: How would you describe your clients?

FB: My clients are individuals who are fairly secure in their tastes, they know what they want, they are very successful and I am here to truly provide them with what it is that they want, but executed beautifully.

I am committed to working with true artisans. I want to keep my artisans and my vendors alive. I travel a lot and I love to see and engage with people, to learn about what they are making and where their interests lie.

I've found these groups of artisans by word of mouth and I have loved collaborating with different people all over the world. To be able to do this and create something exclusive just for my clients is such unique process for me that results in a one of a kind piece for them.

MB: Could you elaborate on your childhood? What were you like as a child? Did you recall having an interest in art and design?

FB: I was always building things. I also loved to paint and to draw. My parents were very encouraging when it came to art, I took an art class every summer and we traveled often. My parents were able to provide me with a very cultured childhood.

I grew up in the South, which is very, very conservative. In Richmond, Va., the architecture is very strictly Georgian and I grew up to really appreciate the architecture, the lines and details.

But then when I traveled to France, I became a total Francophile.


(Photo : John Ellis - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Aspen Residence)


MB: Would you say your experience in France was the time in your life when you realized what career path you wanted? Perhaps an "ah-ha moment" for you?

FB: My trip to France was 100 percent my "ah-ha moment." I was just talking with an editor the other day about my experience abroad and how it totally changed my life. It completely changed me.

Most importantly, I am able to speak French. In every résumé that I look at today, no one speaks a different language anymore and it is very sad. It is very important in this line of business to speak another language. It is absolutely vital, it is an international business and 50 percent of our vendors are European.

MB: What was the initial sign or experience that propelled you to build your own brand?

FB: Well, I want to be honest, I understand the economy is not the greatest right now and there are several young individuals that would love to go off on their own, but I would highly persuade someone against it.

For this kind of business, with home design, the more experience you have, the better you are going to be. Period.

Interior design is something that you build up and you only do that through life experiences, of going to museums, learning a new language, traveling, absorbing culture, understanding how things are made, all of it. There is so much to be learned.

I feel like I have only even touched the tip of the iceberg in what's possible and what is out there. This is what makes my business so exciting and why I love design so much.


(Photo : John Ellis - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Aspen Residence)


It is so important for young designers to not go out on their own right away, you need to work within other companies and truly learn.

With the advent of the Internet and the proliferation of television shows that advertise design, I think there is this new idea out there that anybody can become a designer. There is a huge difference between someone who has experience, who knows how to curate something really interesting from various sources around the globe compared to someone who goes on Pinterest or takes a cool Instagram shot and calls himself or herself a "designer."

I am a big proponent of hard work. Hard work does pay off. This do-it-yourself moment is completely not what I am about and certainly not what my clients want. It really is a lot of work to do what I do, to do what these other talent designers do, our clients really appreciate our work.


(Photo : John Ellis - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Aspen Residence)


MB: Do you think this moment of "do-it-yourself" will last?

FB: The economy is splitting individuals between the have-nots and the have-mores. I think you will see people within the industry, like myself, who are truly doing something bespoke and really special for a certain group of people who can actually afford it.

And on the other hand, you're going to see more and more do-it-yourself. I believe we're going to see it hit very high and low, even more than you see it today, which is unfortunate.

MB: You tailor to your clients' needs and you create these bespoke designs for them. I knew you mentioned you don't necessarily have a certain style, but if could describe your aesthetic or what you stand for in 3 words, what would those words be?

FB: Practical, beautiful and luxurious.

MB: People want to know what your creative process is like, could you share a little bit?

My creative process is definitely dependent on the specific client and the location. It always begins with a plan, an initiative and understanding of the layout I will be working with. My clients then come to my office, I have a great studio with tons of cool samples of art and furniture, and it is unlike most offices that people have seen. I will walk the client around, show them what my current projects are, the work I've done previously and from there things naturally fall into place.


(Photo : Eric Bowman - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Fifth Avenue Penthouse)


MB: Other than your enviable travels around the world, where would you say you find inspiration?

FB: I find inspiration in historic house museums and honestly, every home I seem to go to, I gravitate to something. I find that most inspiring. A lot of these newer museums have recreated rooms, but certainly growing up in Richmond, Va., I was exposed to plantations and house museums and I loved it.

I love old movies, I get a lot of inspiration from them and I love books, I have a scary huge collection of books. And of course, I get inspiration from people alone, from my clients even. I am inspired by how people live and there is such a change in how people are living today.

MB: What facilitates your growth as a designer and as a creative brand?

FB: I would say my level of professionalism and my understanding of my clients' needs are. I really help them sort out their life with a design approach of course. I try to really understand where they are coming from, where they intend to go and truthfully, I really become a part of their lives.

I'm really trying to help people build something, people are certainly creating something especially within their family unit. I want to give them something that is very unique and personal, an environment they are spending their lives in.


(Photo : Eric Bowman - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Fifth Avenue Penthouse)


MB: What is the best career advice you've been given and what would you want to impart on others entering a creative field?

FB: Keep your eyes wide open and never stop asking questions. Hopefully if you are going into this particular field, you have a lot of curiosity about the way things work and the way things are crafted.

More importantly, develop a strong knowledge about history. There is really nothing new in the world and until you understand that, you'll be better off. People think they are really doing something new and they really are not.

We aren't reinventing the wheel here, we are practicing old methods in new ways. Really, everything has been done before and that's fine. If you look hard enough, it is all out there. A really curious and intellectual person will be find that to be true and develop something in a new and fresh way.

I believe that is why I particularly love the house museums. I am able to see how people lived before and how things were arranged and bring those qualities back, the process then becomes a rediscovery.


(Photo : Mark Roskams - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Island House)


MB: Did you had a particular role model that influenced you over your career?

FB: Certainly my teachers. And when I travel to France every month, I enjoy just speaking with my vendors, about ideas, the way products are crafted now and I just get so inspired every time.

I think that a lot of young designers think they can get what they need just from the internet, but I believe it is all about the experience, the personal contact, meeting people, discussing new things, talking about design. It is so important and you just aren't going to get that experience or lesson from a picture on Pinterest. You just aren't.

It is really hard for young people to develop that interest and understand what exactly they are looking at. Because these individuals are expected to know it all so fast and it really takes years and years and years to really comprehend everything.

And of course, the experts at Christies and Peter Marino were super influential to me.


(Photo : Mark Roskams - Courtesy of Frank de Biasi / Island House)


MB: Where do you see Frank de Biasi in the near future?

I am working on a couple of projects personally for me. Yet, everything in my life is ultimately a project. As we go along, even though I am decorating all day for my clients and I enjoy that, I also enjoy using my own home as an experiment and doing things that I wouldn't necessarily do for my clients. That to me is really fun.

I will do this until the day I die. I really enjoy it and I am happy to be in a business that really appreciates history and culture. The more you expose yourself to things, the more you will learn, I feel very fortunate to be able to do just that.

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