One on One With Kelly von Hemert


The Cutting-Edge Elegance of the Barbara Barry Collection


By Jill Fales


For more than 90 years, Orange County has chosen von Hemert Interiors for its quality products and superb service. Additionally, it serves as a place to learn of cutting edge industry news. We recently were able to interview Kelly von Hemert about what is hot in Coastal Orange County, or rather, who is hot. Kelly summed it up in two words, Barbara Barry.

Barry, a world renowned designer boasts several awards including Interior Design’s “Hall of Fame,” Architectural Digest’s “World’s 100 Best Designers,” House Beautiful’s “Giants of Design,” the Lifetime Achievement award from the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Traditional Home’s “Designer of the Year,” and Interiors magazine’s “Best in Residential Design.”

Here’s what we learned.


Q: Who is Barbara Barry and what is her connection to Orange County?

A: Barbara Barry is one of the world’s top 100 interior designers. She was born in northern California. She was born into a family of artists. Her mother had a deep impact on her designs both emotionally and intuitively. She trained at San Francisco’s Academy of Art College. She is known for her Californian laid-back glamour. In 1985, she opened a design firm in Los Angeles. Her interior design projects have ranged from private homes to restaurants and yachts. Her product design portfolio includes: furniture for Baker, crystal for Baccarat, tile for Ann Sacks, china for Wedgewood, fabrics for Kravet and linens for Bloomingdales.

Her connection to Orange County: Her furniture products have been highly sought after in Orange County since she first introduced her line from Baker furniture back in 1996. Her style is quintessentially Orange County with her nod to our pursuit of happiness. To quote her: “California is still the backdrop for a casually elegant lifestyle with palm trees and swimming pools, cocktails and pearls. Perfect.”


Q: Any scoop on her new collection for Baker Furniture?

A: She took an eight-year sabbatical from the furniture company and rejoined Baker in 2011. On April 2, 2011 Barbara Barry launched The Barbara Barry Collection featuring more than 62 pieces including lighting, mirrors, accents and furniture. Several of the original pieces were featured in new finishes that would blend with the new collection.

According to Barry, Baker let her be herself “without dictates or restrictions.” With this creative freedom she introduced into the new collection low-luster lacquers, white onyx, limestone, shagreen, gold and silver leaf, and bronzed glass. These elements are ones that one would expect in custom work, making it so unusual to the retail customer.


Q: What are examples of major trends Barry has set?

A: I think her design philosophy isn’t trendy. It is relevant for the way we live today. She believes that people want more thoughtful interiors that reflect themselves and not a design trend. Her designs are straight forward and honest. She believes in the timelessness of quality. Her approach to eco-conscious design is to just buy well and keep it forever. She believes you should never skimp on quality. She would rather have less but better. Her honesty is further conveyed by finding inspiration from the simplest things. Her designs and color palettes take cues from the shape of an egg, the color of water in a bath tub or the clouds in the sky. All of these elements speak to our greater need for quiet luxury, comfort and ease.


Q: Von Hemert Interiors has been around for almost a century and is known for selling only the finest furnishings in the world as well as offering customers individualized expertise not found in the larger chains and department stores. When and why did von Hemert Interiors decide to carry Barry’s pieces?

A: When Baker first introduced Barbara Barry in 1996 we were intrigued by the California designer. At first glance, we could see her commitment to the subtle restraint and sophistication of modern luxury furniture that was frankly missing at the time. Her collection was both powerful and yet peaceful with its focus on symmetry, scale and proportion. Her collection evolved and became more daring over the next decade with her iconic pieces including her “high-heeled nesting table” and oval X-back chair.


Q: Describe what clients can find from the Barry collection at both the Laguna Beach and Costa Mesa von Hemert Interior stores.

A: They can find many pieces from the original collection as well as the 2011 collection. We have the Signature Lounge Chair, Cove sofa, Lyric Tufted Bed, Encircle Dining Table, new Oval X back dining chair and Celestial chest. All 2011 new introductions from The Barbara Barry Collection, and so much more.


Q: What are your favorite pieces and how have they changed over time?

A: My favorite piece is her Oval X back chair. It is a statement piece. She makes a modern chair look elegant, bold and sexy. I can’t think of any chair that looks so good.


For more information about Barbara Barry and her new collection of furniture, visit one of the two Orange County von Hemert Interior locations:

Laguna Beach
345 N. Coast Hwy.

Costa Mesa
1595 Newport Blvd.

Or on the web.