“I never quite understood why interior design in the traditional sense has no sex appeal.”
New York based “it” designer Ryan Korban loves creating spaces that exude sexy, something he feels there’s not enough of in the design world. His own 550 square foot apartment is a testament to his fresh, sexy and fashion forward take on interior design. Swathed in fur, silk, chrome, brass, marble and exotic materials like shagreene and zebra, Korban’s place oozes sexiness and luxury. For him, design is about creating a fantasy and his approach is certainly one that breaks the traditional mold. He’s the first to admit he doesn’t have a lick of formal training and he’d much rather shop the Brooklyn Flea than the D&D. But then again, breaking the mold is what Korban is all about. Even his appearance – with his long black hair, grungy rock star dress code and veil of mysteriousness – suggests he’s not your typical interior designer. It’s no wonder downtown “cool kids” like fashion designer (and Korban’s BFF) Alexander Wang, actor James Franco, Karl Lagerfeld muse Vanessa Traina and of-the-moment models Jessica Stam and Natasha poly all count Korban as their go to decorator.
Recently, I caught up with Ryan to talk design and he was kind enough to share photos of a stunning and sexy space he designed for hip British fashion mag Another Magazine held at Milk Studios’ Penthouse during fashion week. Read on to hear more more about the Milk Penthouse project, his love of luxury and why he strives to bring more sex appeal to interior design…
Tell me a little about the space you designed for the Another magazine dinner at Milk.
The dinner was held in Milk Studios’ amazing penthouse. I’ve been to many events there so it was exciting to get my hands on it. When Jefferson Hack and Another Magazine wanted to collaborate on their annual Fashion Week dinner in the space I was thrilled. I really wanted to approach the space as an actual residential penthouse. The idea of entertaining at home with the best of taste.
What was the mood you were trying to create?
I was trying to create a sexy, luxurious, casual space. An extremely posh environment where people used the luxury and didn’t just stand around it. Sitting on fur, lounging on zebra skins. We really wanted it to feel like a dream experience. A dinner where the design felt extremely high end, but the idea of formal only related to the quality of food and decor and not the way people were expected to behave.
Sexy is a word that immediately comes to mind whenever I see a space that you designed and that sex appeal seems to be a common thread across all of your work. Is that intentional?
I am so happy you say that. Sexy is something I try to convey in everything I do. I never quite understood why interior design in the traditional sense has no sex appeal. To me I love playing with three main ideas: sexy, fantasy and romance. I love feeling like a different person because of the environment I’m in. Its similar to what people strive to achieve through their choice of clothing.
You also use a lot of exotic and opulent materials and lots & lots of fur which I think adds a sense of drama and glamour to your spaces. Why do you choose to bring such an abundance of luxurious materials into every day spaces?
I do this because I think opulent materials and exotics felt like a privileged thing for so long. It felt like luxury that was locked away or only reserved for the uber elite. The idea of beating luxury up and making opulence feel urban felt really young and fresh to me. For me it’s no longer about the trophy living room you cant actually live in, it’s about using fur on the floor or beating up a silk settee. Its what I have always responded to and I find it so desirable. Its how I live and how my friends live.
You’re known for mixing high & low and I hear you’re a huge fan of the chic, high-end antiques shop Flair with whom you collaborated to design this space. We all love high end but what are some of your favorite budget conscious shopping haunts?
Who doesn’t love high end!! And Flair is my ultimate oasis, I never do a space with out using them, I have yet to find a retailer in the world that speaks so directly to my aesthetic. I also enjoy finding very inexpensive items. The mixing of high and low is important to my career because I do have a fairly young client base. I love flea markets. I love finding old furniture in Brooklyn at and at Housing Works around New York City. Nothing is more exciting than taking a dumpy old sofa and transforming it.
I hear you have no formal training…when did you officially become a designer?
This is true! I can not draft a floor plan for the life of me, but I truly believe good taste can help you start any creative career. I started when I began to study European history in school as well as art and realize enviorments were what I wanted to create. I began by designing my first store in Tribeca and realized, “Hey, I can do this!”
And you’re only 26! How has all of the recognition you’ve received in such a short time impacted you and your business?
Its amazing, but its not something I dwell on I just keep moving forward. I am pretty hard on myself and my business. I think if you get too excited you’ll get side tracked so I’m always on to the next. Its a great frame of mind to have for this type of business.
What ha been your most proud moment in your career thus far?
Every time a potential clients sends back a signed proposal I think “wow, I did it again”. The fear is that they will stop coming!
Do you have a dream project you’d like to take on?
I think my dream is to keep doing what I am doing…Its for this not to end. A fantasy would be re-doing Kensington palace when Princess Diana was alive.
What’s next for you?
I am currently in the middle of two designer flagship stores in New York. One in Soho and the other on upper Madison Ave, so that is keeping me pretty busy along with my residential work.