Design Q&A with Mary McDonald

Design Q&A with Mary McDonald

Abby Stone
Apr 15, 2013

If you don't know Mary McDonald from anywhere else, you certainly remember her from Domino. She papered over a filing cabinet in her office in a chinoiserie pattern and... well, that was in the days before Pinterest, when people still had actual inspiration boards, and I remember seeing it on pretty much every single one of them. Happily, the upcoming LCDQ (La Cienega Design Quarter) Legends of La Cienega, event gave me the opportunity to wrangle Mary into answering my questions.

Lacquered red walls, the aforementioned chinoiserie, bold black and white patterns; Mary carries the torch for what we think of as sleek, chic, and glamorous. Justly decorated, venerated, awarded, photographed and documented, her interiors radiate the same allure as Mary herself. Elegant yet accessible, classic yet completely contemporary, spare without being bare or cold, layered but not fussy, her designs, which conjure up the past without being mired in it, are perfectly in line with this year's theme, Time Capsule: The Past, Present and Future of Design. Her first book, Interiors: The Allure of Style, is a mouthwatering album of glossy design porn. Her second book, due out in 2014, promises more of the same. I, for one, can't look at her portfolio of sumptuous spaces without hearing the pop of a champagne cork, the whisper of a sly joke, and a burst of laughter.

What is your favorite design moment (house, restaurant, building, public space) in Los Angeles?
I am particularly amused right now by the rainbow-striped tile wall at LAX. It is iconically ours. 

Let's pretend you have $400 to update a 250-square-foot space. How do you spend it?
Paint the ceiling and floors in a great color, and a large pattern on one or the other. 50 yards of $2.50 muslin from downtown to drape the walls Nancy Lancaster style. One over-scaled metal catalog lantern for central room impact, and a catalog jute area rug. 
Tell us a little bit about your LCDQ window?
It is a fresh, summery, and modern take on the classic blue and white sunroom. It is also based around my new blue and white collection of fabrics and trim for Schumacher, and rugs for Patterson, Flynn & Martin.

What 5 things would you put in a time capsule?
Christian Louboutin shoes, an iPhone, one of those ridiculous super stretch party limos (that would really confuse people in the future), perhaps a series of Oprah shows, and Crest white strips.  

What period of history would you most like to have lived in?
18th century France. 

What would you bring with you if you were time traveling?
Lipstick, camera, Advil and antibiotics.

What 5 things do you recommend keeping on hand for unexpected guests?
Wine, cheese, crackers, nuts, and vodka in the freezer 

What's your biggest design or home-related indulgence?
Continually replacing the same plants I kill over and over because they don't live in shade.

What's your favorite home from a movie or tv show?
I loved Gatsby's home in The Great Gatsby

What do you love most about LA?
The fact that I can laugh and honestly say Paris Hilton used to live next door. The weather is a close second.

What's your favorite cheap design trick or tip?

For more about Mary, click here and come check out her window starting May 7 during LCDQ Legends of La Cienega - the Los Angeles Design community's spring answer to New York's holiday windows. The walk of wonderful windows are a great opportunity to get out of your car.

Thanks Mary!

(Image: courtesy of Mary McDonald)

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