Channeling Coco Chanel

Nestor Santa-Cruz unveils his new lobby at the Washington Design Center

The new lobby features a Manhattan sofa from Baker and an area rug by Stark Carpet. The bronze bust from GoodWood Antiques pays homage to Coco Chanel. Photo © Morgan Howarth

Visitors to the Washington Design Center have a treat in store for them as they arrive in its lobby, freshly revamped by designer Nestor Santa-Cruz and architect Pedro Aguirre. A member of the Washington Design Center’s Hall of Fame, Santa-Cruz unveiled the new lobby at a special reception on April 19th.

Just as he would do in a client’s home, Santa-Cruz embellished the space with a carefully edited mix of objects and furniture that evokes comfort, sophisticated style and a sense of luxury. Inspired by a recent trip to Coco Chanel’s preserved Paris apartment, he paid homage to its iconic symbolism, Louis XV furniture, leather-bound books and chinoiserie.

A stylish vignette pairs a palm torchière from Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman with a Baker lounge chair and a cowhide rug by Edelman Leather. Photo © Morgan Howarth

Santa-Cruz decorated the space with furnishings from the Washington Design Center showrooms. A crystal Crillon chandelier and mirrored Sevigne screen from Niermann Weeks make a bold statement. Farrow & Ball’s Elephant’s Breath paint envelops the space in elegant gray. The “library” wall is covered in wallpaper from Cole & Sons through Lee Jofa.

The “library” is furnished with a desk by Nancy Corzine through Niermann Weeks and a desk lamp from Charles-Paris through Baker. Photo © Morgan Howarth

During the opening reception, the Washington Design Center also recognized three young, up-and-coming designers, each of whom received the WDC’s Ones to Watch award: Marika Meyer of Marika Meyer Interiors; Samantha Friedman of Samantha Friedman Interior Designs; and Christine Philp of Palindrome Design.

For more information on the Washington Design Center, visit —Sharon Jaffe Dan

Nestor Santa-Cruz (left) Pedro Aguirre (right) and Ones to Watch awardees (left to right) Christine Philp, Samantha Friedman and Marika Meyer. Photo © Ben Droz

One thought on “Channeling Coco Chanel

  1. Thanks to Ms. Segal for commenting on recent post regarding my recent installation at The WDC Hall of Fame lobby design.

    As I mentioned before, I was fortunate to visit as a client of Chanel Jewlery Place Vendome to private visit last January.
    I most share that my inspiration on Chanel apartment was a way to give meaning to an otherwise anonymous building lobby.
    It is the task of Hall of Famers to provide more than a nice design, a vignette that inspires others and sets a tone for potential ways of taking cues from design history both classical and contemporary.

    My work is never intended to copy, but take cue and create a new way of looking at design ideas, in this case, utilizing 99% of products from the center’s showrooms.

    Inspiration is not intended to copy, but just to suggest, sometimes more abstracted than other times. In this case of “overlooking” the use of coromandels screens, it is in my opinion my personal decision. Reasons I will share later in this note. Thomas Jefferson used Palladian Architecture to develop an early American interpretation of the classical architect (Palladio himself been inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, had not copied the classic architecture and therefore we don’t take his designs as ever overlooking the prominent Classical architectural motifs or form, or detais ) Jefferson without copying or using all the details, scale, or interior murals by Palladio in his Virginia buildings. In Fashion, and especifically Chanel, Karl Lagergeld takes clues on Mlle. Chanel’s iconic symbols: camelias, gold buttons, boucle tweed fabrics, etc etc and skillfully picks one or two, as he sees it in a new way, not as a copy but a modern version that edits and reduces it to his vision at each couture moment.
    In the case of screens for this room, after considering faux coromandel screens, not oriental, which were not available to be borrowed by two showrooms, I picked the wonderful Niermann Weeks mirrors screen that reminded me, without being a replica, of Chanel’s art deco mirrored staircase. Sometimes, more often than we admit, designers last minute changes to an idea or inspiration , that might seem as overlooking to some, result in true “coup de foudre” of the design solution.

    I hope this further inspires visitors to the WDC lobby.


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