With an eye towards texture and balance, celebrity designer Nikki Chu’s signature mix of comfort and glamour is unmistakable in both her interior and product designs. The key to her success in both of these arenas? An awareness of the big picture—and of her own brand.
Grounded in Texture
When it comes to interior design, whether it’s a client project or for her own home, celebrity designer Nikki Chu’s strategy is the same: begin with classic pieces that stand the test of time, and then add thoughtful layers of texture, pattern, and color. One of her go-to fabrics for a timeless canvas, for instance, is linen. “Linen comes in a lot of different tones, from white to naturals to grey, and it’s something that you can have forever,” she says. To juxtapose the fabric’s clean feel, Chu often leans on glamorous metallics and richly textured materials such as velvet. “I think a space is built on texture,” Chu says. “Using texture in your pillows and your rugs is a great way to achieve balance.”
“I think a space is built on texture. Using texture in your pillows and your rugs is a great way to achieve balance.” —Nikki Chu
That same sense of balance carries into her product designs—which include bestselling rugs, pillows, poufs, and throws she’s fashioned for partners such as Jaipur Living. In fact, Chu says, her experience as an interior designer has helped make her an expert in product creation. “I’m asking myself: what are my needs as an interior designer? A lot of times it’s very challenging to find a clean rug with a bit of texture, a bit of pattern, but that won’t be overbearing for the rest of the space. So where’s the rug that’s just enough?” Chu answers this question with product designs that echo her tactile yet glamorous interiors.
Like her interior design projects, Chu approaches designing collections with a sense of cohesion. “I think where a lot of designers make mistakes is that they design in a vacuum,” she says. “What I mean by that is a lot of designers will design a pillow or a rug without the thought process of: How does this collection work together? When you’re designing products, you have to really think about the partnership a piece has with another product, as opposed to just designing one product that you think looks beautiful, and it relates to nothing else.”
When you’re designing products, you have to really think about the partnership a piece has with another product, as opposed to just designing one product that you think looks beautiful, and it relates to nothing else.” — Nikki Chu
Case in point: her latest collections of outdoor rugs and pillows (Rhythmik and Groove) are a departure from her trademark neutral scheme. However, Chu kept the designs feeling on-brand with a strategically desaturated palette and a purposefully vintage look. “It’s intentionally done that way so that it doesn’t look like a perfectly brand new rug; there’s a little bit of character,” Chu says. “My first collection in the outdoor space was neutral, so this time I decided, ‘You know what, I’m going to go for some color, but I’m going to keep the pattern and texture sophisticated and very true to what my brand is, which is global, inspired by ethnic and traditional patterns from around the world.”
Ideal for indoors and out, the finished products—just like Chu’s interiors—feel as versatile as they do sophisticated. “Being an interior designer, I understand that when you’re putting pillows on the sofa, I’ll probably need two solids that match, I’ll need some textures, I’ll need some pillows that are in a different size so I can get that nice layered look. So as I’m designing my collections, those are the things I’m considering.”