Any self-respecting decor enthusiast knows Jonathan Savage. Designs from his namesake firm, Savage Interior Design, can be found all over the world, from his hometown of Nashville to Napa Valley and Kiawah Island, S.C., to across the pond in London. We chat with the in-demand designer about his new Palm Beach studio, current renovations and this year’s top trends. 2150 Ibis Isle Road, Ste. 8, Palm Beach, savageinteriordesign.com
A modern black-and-white living space in a Nashville home DESIGN PHOTO BY DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN
Why was now the time to open a studio in Palm Beach? I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Nashville boy, but I was invited to participate in the 2019 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach. It was such an extraordinary pre-pandemic experience. I was assigned the pool house and did a sort of Zen, Bali-meets-Malibu thing. The response was so positive, I got three Florida clients out of it!
Describe your interiors aesthetic. I’m very inspired by contemporary art and love to showcase it in dramatic ways, using large pieces as focal points for the space. That being said, I lean toward very mannerist compositions—lots of symmetry and carefully playing with proportion. It’s rare that I design a room without a touch of black. That’s something I learned from my mentor, Albert Hadley. While I don’t purport to have one style, I’m definitely not a typical traditionalist— anything truly new always catches my fancy.
Any favorite Palm Beach projects of late? I’m working on bringing new life to a classic Palm Beach Regency villa fronting the Atlantic. Reimagining a classic Palm Beach house requires a definitive strategy. They were originally designed for extremely formal entertaining—the kind that was typical of the times. Indoor-outdoor living wasn’t really a thing. Now, clients want a more flowing experience from indoors to outdoors, especially when there’s a spectacular oceanfront view. What was once considered elegant is now rather confining, so the interior architecture needs to be modified. I eschew most tropical cliches, and clients come to me specifically for that avoidance.
A pool house console, including an avant-garde mirror from Tom Ford’s New York boutique DESIGN PHOTO BY DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN
Then for a sleek midcentury-modern condo on an island in the middle of the Intracoastal, it’s all about the views as all exterior elevations are floor-to-ceiling. There’s no point in competing with such compelling vistas. They have to be embraced, so all furniture plans are done to take advantage of what’s visible outside, from lush tropical foliage to spectacular water views. I’ll take photos of the various views at different times of the day and almost always find that certain colors and motifs reveal themselves. I’ll use this information for my schemes, almost always as subtle accents. You know that when two colors exist in nature together, they always work in an interior.
Savage’s pool house design from the 2019 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach DESIGN PHOTO BY DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN
Let’s talk design trends. I love the beautifully dynamic sculptural lighting fixtures that have been emerging, especially those that seem to defy gravity. I’m also fond of any textile that nods to environmental responsibility by making use of reclaimed materials or woven in a new manner based on recently developed technology. It’s all about searching for the unexpected.
A contemporary kitchen design from a Nashville home. DESIGN PHOTO BY DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN
“I’M DEFINITELY NOT A TYPICAL TRADITIONALIST —ANYTHING TRULY NEW ALWAYS CATCHES MY FANCY.” –JONATHAN SAVAGE, INTERIOR DESIGNER
Jonathan Savage at work in his Palm Beach studio PORTRAIT BY TRAVIS HILL
What are your go-to home decor spots in Palm Beach? For fine antiques, I always do well at F.S. Henemader. On Antique Row in West Palm Beach, I pop into Jim Dove as he has the full range of Cambria surfaces on display plus de Gournay’s incredible wallpapers. Their more contemporary patterns can add a subtle luxury to entries, dining rooms and powder rooms. And the hunter in me always takes me to several of the resale and consignment shops, especially for midcentury finds. I especially love Nearly New Thrift Shop.
Photography by: Douglas Friedman, Travis Hill