Thom Filicia is an interior designer, most famous for his role as an interior design expert on the television program "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on the Bravo network. Filicia established his own design firm in 1998 and since then has completed residential and commercial work around the country, as well as designing the U.S. Pavilion at the 2005 World's Fair in Japan. In 2006 he was chosen as one of House Beautiful magazine's Top 100 American Designers and House & Garden magazine's Top 50 "Tastemakers."
Question: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Thom Filicia: I think it’s interesting because my design aesthetic is a real extension of my personality. It’s approachable, it’s fun, it’s pretty traditional, or classic at a certain level and very modern, and fresh in another point of view. And it’s really just kind of a really strong balance. It’s a very good balance of understanding architecture, environment, location. I think of interior design or what I do as a more cerebral thing than... I think a lot of times people think of it as simply decorating. I see it as really more of an idea. Sort of a concept of layering and telling a story. There’s a narrative to what I do and generally I base it on, whenever it’s possible, on my client or the brand that we’re working with, really kind of tell their story through their interior.
So it’s a direct extension of their life, their lifestyle, and so I would say mine is really about personalization, and authenticity, and having fun.
Question: What designers have inspired you?
Thom Filicia: I think the designers for me that have always... I think David Hicks is really a great example of a designer that I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from. Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, who I’ve worked for and he did the intro to my book. He’s awesome. There’s... I mean, I have to say my... I’m actually... I’m asked the question like, “What inspires you?” And my response to “What inspires you,” is really when a client asks me that or when I’m doing a lecture and people ask me, “What inspires you to do television and interior design, commercial, and residential, product, like where does your inspiration come from?”
I always say, “What inspires you, inspires me.” And the concept of that is that I’m inspired by people. I mean, at the end of the day we’re designing spaces for people and we talk about what’s good taste, at the end of the day good taste is a response. It’s an emotion. It’s a connection and so I really think at the end of the day you have to almost be inspired. You have to constantly be inspired. If you want to be current and you want to be really connected to what makes sense... because what was tasteful 100 years ago has nothing to do... well it has something to do with but its definitely evolved and changed.
So you have to understand where things have come and how they’ve gotten here so I would say almost... I’m truly inspired by anyone who’s doing something that I find fascinating. I would say interior designers, those are probably the three interior designers, you know, then I can probably listen, you know, Phillip Johnson. You know there’s a million architects and then of course there’s my mother. So you can... I think anyone you has maybe one or two people that inspire them are probably only have one or two ideas.
Recorded August 4, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller