A Decade of Design

Top taste makers discuss Seattle style—where we’ve come from and where we’re headed.

Story by Alison Lind
Portraits by Hank Drew

For the last 10 years, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles has recorded shifts in design, uncovering styles du jour—whether ephemeral or enduring—with verve and dedication. To continue this tradition and in honor of our 10-year anniversary, we checked in with Seattle tastemakers to hear their thoughts on the past decade of design, and what they anticipate for the future of style.

For more of these designers’ thoughts on design in the last decade, as well as those of interior designer Gregory Carmichael, pick up the October issue of
Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, on newsstands now.

Designer: Robin Chell
Background: Robin has been designing in Seattle since 1996, and in 2001 started Robin Chell Design.
Contact: 3417 NW 68th St. Seattle; (206) 760-0849, robinchelldesign.com

Robin Chell doesn’t much care for embellishments or gimmicks. That’s why she’s happy to see how far design has come since the embellished, gimmick-filled days of the early ’90s. “It has grown up a lot, become more simple,” she says. “And it’s going to change radically with technology; we’ll be forced to become more environmentally aware, to find new uses for existing materials.”

Robin’s vision for the future of design includes a move toward more simplicity: “Growing sophistication [within design] has combined with an awareness of the environment to create a new interest in simplicity,” she says. “We’ve become a lot more confident about simplicity being beautiful and realizing how much simplicity equals serenity.”

“The structure and function of buildings and furniture will be appreciated for themselves,” Chell predicts. “We will move away from the slick and ostentatious to softer, warmer environments of natural and honest materials that harmonize with our evolving lifestyles.”

She foresees a greener future: “Interior design and architecture will continue moving toward smarter and [greener] techniques, such as passive solar, new materials, green roofs and alternatives to lawns.” Chell says homeowners have become more open to the use of unconventional and rediscovered materials such as concrete, composites, recycled materials, and green materials from sustainable resources. “We are becoming more aware of not only sophisticated international design sources, but also our responsibility of using our share of the world’s resources. We are more aware of waste and where it goes.”

Designer: Nancy Burfiend
Background: A member of ASID and IIDA, Nancy started her firm, NB Design Group, in 1988.
Contact: 1932 First Ave., Seattle; (206) 441-7754, nbdesigngroup.net
Interior designer Nancy Burfiend has experienced nearly two decades of Seattle design. “It’s not all about wood here, as many think,” she says. “Most people here want to live in something that’s not so predictably ‘Northwest.’ Thanks to the technology and medical research boom, however, in the last 10 years Seattle has attracted people from all over the world, contributing to a more worldly sense of design.

Her thoughts on the future of design? “Clients are demanding a more sophisticated style than ever before,” she says. “And with the urbanization of downtown, it’s bound to get even better.”