Bringing sexy back

New York-based interior designer ryan korban reveals his tips for making a home feel more glamorous – kids rooms included – and why tall drapes are like high heels for your sitting room.

  2. Words Natasha Inchley
  3. Photographed by Melanie Acevedo / Trunk Archive

Can a home be sophisticated, fashionable – child-friendly, even? That’s a central focus for Ryan Korban, the 29-year-old New York-based decorator, who has made a habit of giving interiors a kind of souped-up luxe twist. In Korban’s world, you’ll likely brush your hand across rich and exotic textures such as velvets, cashmeres, crocodile, gold and marble, possibly all in the one vignette. “I’ve always been drawn to the exotic, the fantasy factor,” he explains. The decorator counts Balenciaga’s Alexander Wang and stylist Victoria Traina as best friends and his clients include a high society line-up of names such as Natasha Poly, Jessica Stam and Claire Distenfeld, the owner of Fivestory who appointed Korban to lend her niche department store a high-glamour edge. Korban’s own apartment space in SoHo is equally rich, accented with his signature fox-fur throws, velvet sofas, black lacquered tables, brass fittings and a zebra. Korban explains, "Fashion has always been a love of mine, and the way glamour fuels the industry. I thought that was somewhat lacking in the interior world, and so that has become a constant source of inspiration."

Above, and below: Designs for Living. Ryan Korban at home in New York's SoHo; the interior designer's apartment is filled with a high-voltage mix of plush finishes: velvet sofas, fur throws and exotic taxidermy that Korban has collected over the years.



Korban's top decorating tips:

1. Fabric is the most important element in the room, it doesn’t matter what the furniture is so long as you’ve got beautiful finishes in raw silks, velvets, furs and suedes. I’m a big believer in carpeting, I want to bring on the revival of wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s such a great textural experience.
2. Proportion in the room is key – it’s about going high and going low. Low furniture combined with tall drapes hung really high help to stretch out a room’s proportion, much like a woman wearing high heels.
3. Having painted my own apartment 20 times, I think I’ve discovered the perfect shades of grey. To me, white or beige walls don’t feel as glamorous, whereas grey is the ultimate neutral and goes with everything. 

Is it possible to live in a designed space when you have children? Definitely, although my philosophy is not for everyone. I’m into upholstery, which is great for softer edges, and I push clients to use rich materials such as velvets because they wear well. My philosophy is that if you’re going to buy nice things, then enjoy them and don’t be too precious. There’s something so annoyingly glamorous about taking the Birkin bags off the shelf and beating them up a little. My other rule is to avoid going the conventional nursery route. I would never choose pastels for a baby but rather a chic pale grey – perhaps with creams and plaid wallpaper, it still feels soft but doesn’t scream baby.

  2. Which qualities are essential to a perfectly designed room?
  3. I tend to think a room is never finished. What I believe is more important is the feeling you get from the space – a successful room should convey a certain emotional response.