Professional actress, interior designer for passion: Kari Whitman was a successful model and actress in the 1980s and 1990s, starring in many important movies and tv shows in the States. Whitman’s life changed in 1994 when she launched Kari Whitman Interiors, a company specialized in high-profile interior design.
From then on “top” clients, including Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, choose the American designer and her eclectic brand known for her eye-catching, eco-friendly and pet-friendly design.
Face to face with Kari Whitman: “My wonderful design-life. Portugal new global hub”
Q: Tell us about your career “evolution”. Today you are an high-end interior designer, also much appreciated by Hollywood’s celebs.
Did you always desired to work in this industry?
As a passion I’ve always been interested in design from a very young age. I remember rearranging my room over and over in first grade. Unfortunately, I started off in Hollywood as an actress and was very unhappy in that world But when I got my first opportunity to do interior design it was with actor and director Emilio Estevez, who consequently gave me first acting opportunity as well in a movie called “Man at work”. After working on Emilio’s home I was hooked and knew that this was what I should have been doing all along. From that day forward, I started my own company and it has been non-stop ever since. I believe since I started in the acting world that is why I have so many celebrity clients. I love my job so much now, I could never go back to being an actress, this is the profession I am meant to do.
Q: In a few words, how would you describe your “style”, your “design taste”?
I create a style based on the personality of my clients. I believe a good designer does not have a “style” or everything would look the same. But my personal style is very eclectic, mixing old with new, with a huge focus on art and the environment. I also prefer to redo a vintage piece than buy new and always bring some aspect of our precious earth inside.
Q: You have a great love for animals, culminating in the creation of Ace of Hearts, a non-profit dogs rescue. Please tell us about this entity and whether you are satisfied of the goals achieved.
I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with the goals I’ve achieved until I am not need anymore to rescue animals. It is so painful to see the abuse of animals in Los Angeles and feel like you can only do a little bit to help. Los Angeles kills 500 dogs a day. We are the highest kill rate in America and it is very hard to face that. So I try to focus on the 4500 that I have saved. That definitely makes me feel better, but until no more animals are dying in the shelter achieved enough.
Q: What are your tips for a pet-friendly design? What about eco design tips?
For pet-friendly design I like to use faux fur, pleather and ultra suede. Not only is it the most humanitarian option it is aesthetically looks real and beautiful. I also believe that dogs should always be part of the family and allowed in every room of the house. Big fluffy beautiful throws on a couch or a chair will attract an animal to that spot. So if you don’t want your pet to leave hair on the couch but you want your pet next to you while you watch your favorite movie, a big fluffy throw will be the best solution to this.
As far as this beautiful earth is concerned, I am a big tree-hugger. Being raised in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado made me appreciate mother earth at a very young age. My motto is the best way to recycle… is to reuse. I redo and reuse so many vintage pieces in my design. I also only buy from sustainable and earth-ethical companies. I also use nature’s organic colors and textures as my indoor palette a lot. I am doing a current project in Colorado that we have living walls, no dry wall, and all recycled materials. I am super proud of it. It’s also great when you have very earth-friendly client like Jessica Alba, to me she is the greenest celebrity around.
Q: As our lives become more hectic and depend more on technology, we believe there is a desire to reconnect with nature and go back to a simpler way of life to be reflected also in the design and style of our homes.
Do you agree? In which manner technology and nature can match together?
This is a hard one for me. As nature is my muse and animals are my God, but the amount of dogs that I have saved and eco-friendly design that I have showcased through technology has made a lot of change. I think technology definitely brings awareness and is a platform for any voice, but I find it very rude when I go to a dinner party and people are staring at their cell phones.
Q: In your opinion, which will be the luxury interior design trends in 2018? And what will be “out”?
In my opinion I feel as though vintage and mid-century is going to stay strong but also being influenced by eclectic art. I feel like expressionism and bringing your own personality into you home is what’s going to trend more rapidly than “monkey see, monkey do”. I’m very thankful for this as I’ve never been a follower, I’ve always been a leader and I get very bored by no change and I don’t live by rules.
Q: What do you think about Italian design? Do you like it? Have you worked with Italian design companies?
It depends; there are some Italian design companies that I think are amazing in clean well-made product. There are also some that I feel like are very stuck in a design from 10 years ago. I love Italy, it is one of my favorite places on the planet, but I feel lie Portugal will be the next design hub. I don’t know or have any good reason for it. All I can say, is that theres excellent furniture design and art coming out of Portugal. Also the architecture is amazing. the lifestyle is amazing and its very price efficient. Portugal is my new go-to.
I love Italy, it is one of my favorite places on the planet, but I feel lie Portugal will be the next design hub.
Q: What have been your favorite projects to date? One in particular?
The project I’m working on currently is one of my favorite projects, but it hasn’t been photographed yet. I’ll give you a sneak peak in a few weeks. My personal home in Colorado is one of my favorites as well (I’ll attached photos). I also really enjoyed the house I did on Mulholland Drive for a Royal Family. Additionally, the apartment I did for Antonia and Melanie Griffith in NYC was fabulous.
Q: How important is travelling in your life as source of inspiration? In Europe, what place do you love most? Have you ever been to Italy or Switzerland? Did you ever have the chance to work with Italian or Swiss customers?
Traveling to different countries, especially Europe, is one of my biggest sources of inspirations. I enjoy going to Maison & Objet in Paris. I also love to drive through Switzerland, the Alps and parts of Portugal. Europe’s wisdom, nature, and amazing architecture always inspires me. I’m thinking of buying a house soon in the Alps. One of my favorite places to go skiing is in Megeve, France.
Q: Nizza Paradise is a new residence of luxury apartments in Lugano (Switzerland). What do you think about our project?
I’m very impressed with Nizza Paradise. Its architecturally beautiful: clean lines but interesting. The view is incredible and layout is spacious, yet cozy. I would love to visit sometime.
Q: Do you have any specific dreams you would like to accomplish in 2018?
Honestly I would like to sleep more and have more time for my friends and myself. But I am also extremely grateful for how many amazing client I have and the success I achieved. I am very excited for the opening of 414 Light Street, a high rise I’m designing in Maryland, as this is my biggest commercial job to date. Stay tuned!