Design Q&A with Cliff Fong

Design Q&A with Cliff Fong

Abby Stone
Apr 12, 2013

If you received your copy of this month's Elle Decor, you've seen Cliff Fong's work; it's on the cover! His work has also appeared in Architectural Digest and Harper's Bazaar. Cliff, who'll be designing a window as part of this year's LCDQ (La Cienega Design Quarter) Legends of La Cienega 2013 in Los Angeles, took a break to answer a few questions for me!

Born in New York, Cliff spent his childhood in various places, both here and abroad, which may explain why his work has the unique ability to unite elements from seemingly disparate origins. Comfortable, elegant and sophisticated, they're spaces that are timely yet timeless. It's no wonder that his first client, a cat-sit that came with the request that he "spruce the place up" while she was away, is still calling him. He's since designed more than a dozen homes for her!

Although his projects to date have been largely residential, Cliff has designed some notable commercial spaces including Madison Gallery, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, and Michael Voltaggio's Ink restaurant in Los Angeles. He also is one of the owners of Melrose's Galerie Half, a sprawling emporium that sells 20th century design, European antiques, architectural elements, and art.

What is your favorite design moment (house, restaurant, building, public space) in Los Angeles?
The grounds at LACMA, the Cactus Garden at the Huntington Library, and Neutra's Lovell house.

Let's pretend you have $400 to update a 250 square foot space, how do you spend it?
I'd use $100 on paint and related materials, $150 on the best flea market chair I could find, $60 on a Cere Trudon candle, and $40 on a fifth of good vodka!

Tell us a little bit about your window.
I'd rather not ruin the surprise. (Readers: You'll be able to see it in the window of Dragonette when LCDQ Legends of La Cienaga 2013 unveils the street of windows on May 7 running through 10, 2013)

What five things would you put in a time capsule?
The Wild Pacific DVD set, a Chaise Standard from Jean Prouve, my iPod, pencil sketches from as many 20th century masters as possible, and a copy of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

What period of history would you most liked to have lived in?
Post-World War I Paris

What would you bring with you if you were time traveling?
A pocket guide to coin collecting, a cashmere sweater, chinos, a pair of Jack Purcells, and a camera.

What 5 things do you recommend keeping on hand for unexpected guests?
A range of Kiehl's products (moisturizer, lip balm, etc); a robe, pajamas and slippers; coconut water; Emergen-C; and Uber to get people back home if the guest rooms are full.

What is your biggest home or design-related indulgence?
Fine art.

What is your favorite home from a movie or TV show?
Darlington Hall from The Remains of the Day

What do you love most about Los Angeles?
Coming home to it after getting away from it.

What is your favorite cheap design tip or trick?
Turn old or damaged rugs into pillows or dog beds. Also, cutting them down to use in a dressing room or bathroom can be a nice use of the remains of a beautiful textile.

Thanks Cliff!

(Image: courtesy of Noelle Thurin)

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