Bryan Mason and Jeanine Hays
One of the best books that has come across my desk this year is Remix: Decorating with Culture, Objects and Soul by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason of Aphrochic. It's a beautiful guide to developing your personal decorating style and is illustrated with gorgeous glimpses inside homes that are put together with an eye on individual expression and unique decorating details. I admired the spaces that Jeanine and Bryan presented in Remix - it felt similar in spirit to the Apartment Therapy practice of celebrating one-of-a-kind, stylish real-life homes in our daily tours. So, I got in touch and asked them if they'd consider being our first-ever House Tour collaborators/curators and, happily, they graciously agreed. Read on to meet them and learn about Remix, their take on cultivating style, and our upcoming series...
AphroChic co-founders, Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason take you into homes where global decor breathes beauty and soul into contemporary interiors, in their new book, Remix: Decorating with Culture, Objects and Soul. Here's our quick Q&A with the talented couple (along with some sneak peek pics from the book):
AT: The title of Remix includes "Decorating with Culture, Objects, and Soul." Can you elaborate?
Bryan Mason: "Decorating with Culture, Objects, and Soul" is a phrase that we developed along with our editorial team at Random House. It did a good job of encapsulating what we feel is the new modern aesthetic of incorporating cultural style into modern decor to create contemporary spaces with unique perspectives. While everything with which we decorate is an object, and most have some cultural background, it's only when we consciously combine those elements to design rooms that reflect who we are. Then, our spaces take on that special extra dimension that we describe as "soul."
For example, it would be very difficult to casually decorate a room with statues of Buddha or Ganesh while being consciously respectful of the fact that for many people these statues represent images of divine beings. In Remix we feature a home that has several images of Buddha, but the two women who live in that home are Buddhists. The inclusion of the Buddha in their home is not only an attempt to decorate, but to take the rooms of their home and turn them into an opportunity to find peace and reflect on what they believe to be ￼the true nature of the universe and their search for enlightenment within it. In two of our Philadelphia homes, the couples had traveled to Tibet and wanted to evoke the peace of a temple they'd visited while traveling. So, they used images of the Buddha to decorate. The statues were displays with the desire to recreate something that they had experienced and an understanding of how these images are venerated, even if they are not venerating them in the same way. These aren’t the only times it’s appropriate to decorate with Buddha statues, but they are examples of people who had a relationship with, or a knowledge of, the culture that went beyond room decor.
It may require a bit of research, but in the end, the line between appreciation and appropriation is defined only by how well you know the story that you are trying to tell, even if that story is your own.
In the homes that were featured in the book, wall shades were chosen to reflect a Caribbean heritage, ikat textiles were used to evoke the feeling of African cultures, and art was incorporated to showcase African American roots.
When we think of home elements as ways to express who we are and what that means, we automatically push to go beyond white walls and beige carpets, to richly hued and patterned experiences. We use lively art and collected furnishings that help express who we are, where we have been, and where we hope to go. Of course our favorite example of a “remixed” space is our own home, where all of these elements are present to the tell the unique story of Bryan and I, and our personal heritage.
If I had to mention just a few of my favorite go-to places, these 5 top the list:
- AphroChic - And, of course, I have to mention my own company. We started making products because of a gap in the market related to modern, culturally-inspired home decor. I have to admit, our wallpaper is pretty special. With pieces like Haze and Juju, we allow people to bring soulful style home in truly modern fashion.
AT: Finally, please tell everyone about some of the wonderful folks whose homes will be featured in the upcoming Apartment Therapy + Remix House Tours series that you and Bryan are curating for us.
Jeanine Hayes: When we were approached about collaborating with AT for the Remix House Tours, we immediately put together a list of people from the states and around the globe who we’ve always wanted to feature in house tours. The list was put together in less than 30 minutes, as we immediately thought of some very talented women that we know who are doing some pretty cool things in the world of design.
In this collaboration, we are taking you everywhere - from Belgium, to Dubai, to Los Angeles, to New York. It’s going to be a very cool world tour. Some of the folks we’ll be featuring:
- Magali Elali and Bart Kiggen of CoffeKlatch in Belgium. They are the offers of one our favorite websites, as they interview makers from around the world.
- Kera Thompson of Interwoven. She lives in Dubai, owns her very own textile shop, where she sells vintage wares from Morocco, and she has an absolutely amazing eye.
- Rena Thiagarajan of Project Bly. Project Bly has come on the scene lately for the beautiful pieces they source from around the globe and sell right here in the States. (Coming up Thursday 8/28 - check back at noon eastern)
- Jessica Anderson of HuffPost Home. Jess has been working in the home decor sphere, for many years at AOL, and now as the editor of HuffPost Home. We are thrilled to take a look into her Brooklyn home.
And that’s just the beginning. These are going to be personal, unique, culturally-inspired pieces that Apartment Therapy readers will love. We can’t wait for you to see the first tour!