Interior designer and custom furniture maker Michael Dawkins prefers a clean slate and a holistic approach.
By Kirsten Niper
“Nothing pleases me more than to create,” shares interior designer and custom furniture maker, Michael Dawkins. From an early age, Dawkins was interested in and played around with design, and “of course” studied it in school. Now, he is an internationally renowned interior designer and has launched Michael Dawkins Home, a one-stop-shop for designers to acquire home furnishings, accessories and art.
A few years ago, Dawkins launched his Miami showroom and just last year opened the doors to a 10,000-square-foot showroom in the Design District of Manhattan. Offerings include pieces from his private collection, as well as pieces from other vendors.
Despite the different geographical locales for each showroom, Dawkins does not see too much difference in what customers are looking for. “With the exception of a little more white and corals in Miami, which is a given with the environment and weather, we offer the same pieces in both [showrooms] and they do equally well. My style is sort of international,” shares Dawkins.
Dawkins started designing custom furniture due to the lack of accessible choices for designers. “If you go into a showroom, you typically get one distinct point of view and you can’t use that for an entire interior. Here, you can do an entire apartment or home with one visit, all from an eclectic and broad-range point of view,” explains Dawkins.
Michael Dawkins Home offers a line of carpets; fabrics; furniture (both hard and soft); artwork; and vintage, one-of-a-kind, mid-century modern pieces that Dawkins collects. “You’ll only have to leave for window treatments,” says Dawkins.
The showroom offerings are a reflection of how Dawkins likes to take on projects in their entirety when he is involved in a design project.
“I don’t like to get involved piecemealing things together, or coming into a situation with lots of moving parts. I like a clean slate and I can achieve my vision when I don’t need to compromise to save a certain piece or two. I like to start with one vision and keep it cohesive,” he explains.
Working “pretty consistently” in modern style, Dawkins’ clients are drawn to his natural, organic approach that warms the interiors.
Bringing warmth into the interior is important, as he believes where you live should be both liveable and attractive, not just photograph well.
“Modern apartments tend to be cold and uninviting. They photograph well, and I’ve lived in apartments like that. All white, and it looked amazing when you walked in the door, but its not conducive to peace and tranquility, which I think [is what] a space should do for you. New York City is so brutal, and you’re assaulted with visual, audio and everyday pressures at work. When you get home, the environment should give serenity and a space to reflect,” states Dawkins.
The color white, which can be seen as a harsh or imposing color to some, features into Dawkins aesthetic, as it serves as one layer in the overall design. “It’s about the big picture, it’s like a punctuation mark. It’s one layer, it can soften or lend interest to the textures being used. It’s like cooking, too much salt and the meal is ruined,” he explains.
Artwork is another layer in the design, and according to Dawkins, it is what differentiates a good designer from a really great designer. “It’s all part of the formula, what does the room call for? You have to have an eye to know what the piece needs to be in combination and harmony with everything else,” he shares.
Busy as Dawkins is with his creative ventures, he is always inspired by finding the ability to improve upon something and taking the piece to the next level. “I want to impress myself,” he explains.