The Story Teller

Amy Meier’s refined style creates personal narratives for her clients

Restrained is the word most often used to describe interior designer Amy Meier’s work.
But in fact, she’s got a voracious appetite for anything well designed, from contemporary Japanese pottery to soft-textured cashmere blankets to an 18th-century, marble-topped burled-wood dresser.

“In general, I really like interiors that are unique to each client,” she says.” And intentional—I like things to be very deliberate, emotional, personal, and well edited.”

She studied fine arts at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then turned to New York’s Parsons School of Design for a degree in fashion design in 2006. From there, she went to work for Gap Clothing, but found herself among 500 employees laid off right before the Great Recession.

As a result, Meier had the opportunity to reflect on the potential arc of her career. “I’d always toyed with the two worlds of fashion and interior design, so I took time to figure it out,” she says. “When a friend’s mother, who had an interior design practice in Boston, asked me to join her, I got my feet wet, learned the industry, and loved it.”
Since 2008, she’s been on her own in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., working on homes for clients in Del Mar, Palm Beach, and other locations. These are not cookie-cutter interior designs. Each is different, because each client is different. “My goal is to analyze and interpret my clients,” she says. “There will be some antiques and some textures, but it will be very personal.”
She’ll ask about their hobbies, interests, and how their family lives. “I want their friends to come in and say, ‘Oh, this home is so you,’ and not, ‘Did Amy Meier do that?’ ” she says. “We want to be behind the scenes and bring each family to the front.”

Last year, she stepped up her game and bumped up her personal brand with a new shop and studio in the village of Rancho Santa Fe. “One of my dreams was to have a retail store for the storytelling,” she says. “In the beginning of 2018, it was not even a reality. I got back from Italy and my husband said, ‘Did you see the place up for rent, next to the coffee shop?’ ”
Meier didn’t hesitate. “I knew I had to take it,” she says. “It’s twice as big as my old space, with floor-to-ceiling windows.”
She leased the space, began renovations, and posted work-in-progress photos on social media. Her shop and studio are housed in a corner building that’s now split into three parts: a main entrance for retail, offices, and a presentation room. Interior design clients come in through a separate entrance.

Inside the shop is a mix of large- and small-scale items, including antiques. Her wares—sofas, candles, artwork, chaise lounges, antique glassware, dining tables, and a line of jewelry from Venice, Calif.—all have one thing in common: “I love them!” she says. “Everything is very sculptural, with defined lines and nothing stuffy. And they’re all very useful.”
In addition, Meier collaborates with different artisans on exclusive goods. An artist in Connecticut is working on a line of sculptured ceramic lamps; a woodworker in Chicago is doing a line of Shaker-style coffee table trays; and a San Diego-based artist is collaborating on a bull’s-eye mirror, contemporary but painted to look antique.

When Meier opened the shop, she believed her clientele would be mostly local residents. But as it turns out, about 80 percent of them are designers and architects from out of state. “They got wind of us, and we ship all over the country. I’m building relationships with the interior design community and retail clients and seeing the success of our pieces and collaborations, which are exclusive to us,” she continues. “The trade comes to us for those pieces and that’s really exciting.”
Matt Donahoe, owner and principal at bureau interior design + architectural consulting in Nashville, Tenn., is a trade client. Meier’s shop opened in August 2018, but Donahoe estimates he’s already purchased 2,000 pieces from her.
“Unfortunately, I’ve spent way too much money there,” he says with a smile. “When I’m in L.A., it’s my first destination. Her team has been so responsive with samples and quotes and personalizing beyond what they offer in finishes.”
He adds that Meier’s brand appeals to him because of her background in fashion design. “It’s pared down, with soul and patina, and has an element of elegance without formality,” he says. “There are always textures or finishes of the utmost caliber.”
Even with the smallest artifacts, Donahoe says, Meier creates a mood and captures it well. “She has an eye for truly old artifacts with wear and tear,” he says. “It’s a delicate balance of elegance and charm and a story behind everything.”

Meier’s offerings enable him to better serve his own clients—and in a way that no one else in Nashville can. “There’s a consistent feed in terms of business for us,” he says. “You’re not going to find that anywhere else in the South; it’s my little secret.”
For local real estate investor Trip Morey, Meier’s eye for Asian sculpture attracted him immediately. “She went on a trip to Japan and came back with a lot of Japanese pottery, which I love,” he explains. “I would go in once a week and buy a piece from her. I didn’t have to go to L.A., and I started a new little collection.”
Meier, Morey asserts, is a very good picker. “She picks amazing stuff,” he says.
And she knows how to use her finds to tell a story—with her own sense of restraint.

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