In our newest Art of Style series, Shop Talk contributor Lauren Gallow examines the sartorial leanings, style influences, and fashion favorites of the Seattle arts community. See more of Gallow’s work on her website, Desert Jewels.
“I’ve been really into maroon lately,” Brian Paquette told me as we sipped grapefruit sodas around the kitchen island in his Capitol Hill apartment last week. “But you hate purple,” Liza Curtiss cut in. “Right,” he replied. “And I definitely don’t like matching.”
Playful and to the point—such is the dynamic between the duo. Curtiss is the latest designer to join Brian Paquette Interiors, a team that also includes Nicole Murillo, who recently designed a suite at the newly remodeled Sorrento Hotel. Paquette formed his interiors business over seven years ago with an emphasis on bringing fine art into domestic and commercial spaces.
“I try to get out in the world as much as I can and look at things,” he told me. “It’s my job to go and see what’s being made in Seattle, what art is being produced.”
“Often what our clients are paying for,” Curtiss continued, “is Brian’s knowledge, his broad network of artists and makers in Seattle.”
As designers, Curtiss and Paquette both sense the fire currently building in the city’s art and design scene. “There’s a lot being said about Seattle right now,” Paquette noted. “But I don’t know if people are necessarily talking about the right things. Development in Seattle is a huge topic at the moment; everyone’s focused on what’s changing and how. I’d like to talk about what’s being made in Seattle. I’d like to have a conversation about art.”
That’s where Curtiss comes in. Her background in theater (she is an ensemble member of The Satori Group, a local company known for producing collaborative and audience-centered works) gives her a deep understanding of the relationship between the body and interior spaces. “I can feel the impact of a space physically, tactically,” she explained. “Lighting is huge for me.”
Paquette first met Curtiss three years ago when she was working as an in-house designer at West Elm. “Liza helped me out big time on a project for Sunset magazine. She came all the way out to Seabrook for the final event—she just went above and beyond.” Now, it’s clear that Paquette and Curtiss have a friendship and a rapport that makes for a fruitful working relationship, plus a shared belief in the power of art and the domestic interior to help individuals tap into a deeper sense of self.
“I’ve always been drawn to Brian’s work because he is as much about people as he is about objects and interiors,” Curtiss says. “I’m a story person. I’m a nostalgic person. A history buff. Brian knows the stories behind people and their objects. He understands that if people surround themselves with stories, their lives have the potential to become something bigger.”