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Design Trendsetters: What’s Next…and Exciting

One thing’s certain: Design is fleeting. So thank goodness for those valued few within our community who keep their eyes on the trends for us—and even create a few themselves.

We asked three trendsetters—from design, architecture and retail backgrounds—to share their favorite styles.



Edward G. Shanabarger
Principal/Owner, Room533

In its most basic form, interior design is a reflection of personality. So, when designer Edward G. Shanabarger takes on a new project, he spends some time getting to know the client he’s designing for. “I ask them for treasures that they enjoy most, and usually they’ll pull something out from a drawer or closet,” he says. He then takes these items—anything from vintage magnifying glasses to Mayan sculptures to Civil War swords—and places them center stage, juxtaposing them with modern elements, such as a Lucite base or colorful flowers, for a fresh, interesting and often conversation-starting tablescape in an entry or study. “I love arranging objects you normally wouldn’t mix together that somehow educate and play off one another to shed a new artistic light,” he says. 



Andrea Clark Brown
Principal/Owner, Andrea Clark Brown Architects

Southwest Florida certainly has its fair share of sprawling mansions, but architect Andrea Clark Brown says there’s a new style of building that’s growing in popularity. “The homes are not necessarily small,” she says, “but architects are breaking them into connecting pavilions or rooflines so there are outdoor spaces in between these building masses.”

Smaller spaces allow a more intimate feel, and courtyards and pavilions—either screened or open—create an extra retreat outside the home. “It provides an opportunity to invite landscape spaces into more central areas of a home,” she says. “I think it’s a certain reaction to the palatial look that came from the idea of the Italian palazzo. Instead of being more formal, it looks friendlier and homier.”



Christopher M. Smith
President, Fifth Avenue Design Gallery

Having owned his own design firms and decor stores for his entire career, Christopher M. Smith knows furniture. He cites the evolution of classic ideals as driving the direction of current design: bold silhouettes, clean finishes and bright ivory tones contrasted with mahogany solids, as in the most recent Thomas Pheasant collection for Baker Furniture, pictured here.

No longer about maintaining distinct styles, Smith says current design tends toward a mix of identities and genres—thanks in part, he says, to a struggling economy and a more restrained retail environment. Instead, unnecessary decoration is eliminated, allowing the form and coloration of the wood to stand out. “Beauty is defined with simplicity, bold silhouettes and clean finishes,” he says. “We’re getting back to basics.”

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