Design 9 has been very fortunate to work with Marc Russell Interiors for over fifteen years. They have an outstanding staff of very talented designers, one of whom stand out from the crowd. This week, we had the opportunity to showcase Michael Huard, one of Marc Russell Interiors’ designers, as our featured client. Michael is a top designer and the store manager of Marc Russell Interiors, located in Palm Springs, California. Marc Russell Interiors is one of the most prominent retail stores in the area, and specializes in soft contemporary and mid century designs. With an 8,000 sq ft show room, they offer a wide variety of product, along with professional design services. I had the chance to sit down with Michael and talk about his career in retail and design, and his experience in working with Design 9.
From the owner of Design 9…
“I love working with Michael at Marc Russell Interiors. With his experience in the fashion and design industry, he has a true talent for putting together an entire room, perfectly complementing it with colors and patterns. I am always excited to see what COMs he is going to send our way. Once the fabric is on the piece, it always looks flawless. I would love to bring him to a fabric fair sometime with me! It’s always a pleasure working with Michael.”
How did you get into the business?
“I came in through retail ranks, beginning in merchandising. I originally got hired by Neiman Marcus as the men’s fashion director at age 20. I started meeting great people in the business. I also had a minor in fine arts, so then I brokered art. I still do now as well. After I left Neiman Marcus, I started Michael H Productions Fashion Company. Eventually, Fashion led me into retail.”
In the beginning of his career, Michael began Michael H Production’s fashion company where he launched lines, participated in commercial business, and hosted fundraiser and gala-style events for well-known names such as Tiffany & Co., DKNY, and CIT Investment Group.
What is the focus or business model of Marc Russell Interiors with regard to staff? Is your staff more designer based or sales?
“It is a design based showroom, we’re open to the public, but really we are more clientele service oriented. Honestly, that’s what got us through the 2008-2009 down time, many left town but we survived because we were a full service. Because we weren’t just cash and carry dependent, we were still serving clients. Business was down- don’t get me wrong, but we survived because of the business orientation.”
How have you influenced the store? What style does Marc Russell Interior’s specialize in?
“I was having dinner with Marc and Russell and they started talking about their expansion plans for their showroom and they said they’d love to have me join their team. I could bring in own lines, and bring in my contracts. It really worked out for everyone, and now I’ve been here for 20 years. Here in the store we have a very mid-century vibe with touches of a soft contemporary feel, it’s not hard edged and pointed or geometric.”
What projects have you personally used Design 9 product in?
“I used some of Design 9’s product when I did a town house at the Four Seasons in Toronto, we did the dinosaur house for Leonardo DeCaprio and we used the product there. Design 9 fits into that mid-century feel and some of their pieces fit into the more architectural settings. I just used the big “Puzzle” piece, but most often the focus is specialty. We love their ottomans too. We especially use their chairs- dining and occasional. They work wonderfully as an accent to any setting.”
Is there any piece in particular of our line that is your favorite piece?
“The Cole chair, people love it here! The original Billy Haines piece was used in Loretta Young’s house, so the Cole chairs are probably the most fashionable thing we have. There’s always one on the floor, they’re huge here.”
What are the demographics of your client?
It’s a resort town, and generally, yes, it is still a “second home” place, but we are seeing a younger, more diverse population moving in. We also see the homes becoming the principal house, and people are putting a lot more money and emphasis on what goes into the house, as opposed to just renting furniture or buying it cheap. So, along with the ever expanding gentrified neighborhoods, there’s more importance placed on these homes. As opposed to before, the interior of the home has now been prioritized.
What trends have you noticed recently in your area that have been working well?
I saw Violet coming in as a color trend. Its one of three native colors in the desert, white, yellow, violet bloom in desert. With all the dusty green palm trees, violet alongside them is really beautiful. Its all over, its a wall color, a fashion color, an upholstery color. As far as trends go we generally stay away from whats trending in tile, floor covering, and we tend to create a classic transitional pallet in this day in age. Other than color, but that is transitory.
What type of items are really popular right now in the area that you’re servicing (Palm Springs, California).
We have a tendency to do a lot of great color pattern and prints. Light and airy pieces do great. We do a lot of white, orange, lime green, palm springs-esque colors.
What has been your experience working with Design 9?
Design 9 makes accommodations all of the time. And Tricia is a doll and shes really cool about expediting things. We do a lot of COM work with her and she’s great for fabric application- very accommodating. For example, in one project I needed to stretch a bar stool into a bench and she accommodated us and had it done, she’s great about doing that. And working with a company that will do COM orders is incredibly helpful, and that’s where Design 9 comes in.
To see more from Michael and Marc Russell Interiors visit their website at: http://marcrussellinteriors.com/
From the author:
Having the opportunity to speak with Michael was one of a kind. He’s incredibly experienced, and obviously talented. There’s no doubt- Michael loves what he does. His passion shows in his work with design and at Marc Russell Interiors. He was excited to talk and open, which makes my job much easier. It was a genuine pleasure to speak with someone who has worked for so many incredibly well-known names. I look forward to talking with Michael more in the future!
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