Over 152 Years of Service to the Furniture Industry
 Furniture World Logo

Design & Designer: Young Huh

Furniture World Magazine

on

ROOMS for Their Lives

INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG HUH

Interior designer Young Huh talks about current trends and how to engage with clients on an emotional level to give them the best experience of their new home furnishings.

 

Furniture World interviewed Young Huh, an interior designer known for her warm, colorful and inviting interiors. Huh has been included on Elle Decor’s A-List and was named one of Vogue’s five interior designers on the rise. Her work has been featured in publications such as Architectural Digest, Domino, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Interior Design, Luxe, The New York Times, Real Simple and The Wall Street Journal. Huh supports the local and global design community, participating in speaking engagements and charitable events that include the Kips Bay Decorator Show House and the annual Bienenstock Future Designers Summit in High Point, NC.

Her company, Young Huh Interior Design (YHID), is a full-service design firm specializing in residential and commercial interiors. She has a growing line of licensed collections and is on design councils/advisory boards with Benjamin Moore, Cosentino, The Rug Company, and Kravet.

When a designer or furniture retailer takes the time to tell a story about the items their clients are thinking of acquiring, people feel that they aren’t just buying a chair. They are bonding with a piece of history or connecting with a culture of makers.

Design Solutions

Furniture World asked Young Huh how she engages with clients to find the best interior design solutions for them. Also, how her approach might benefit Furniture World’s retail furniture store readers.

She suggested that a critical step in working with clients is to figure out how they want to experience their new or redesigned rooms. It’s similar to what design associates might do in furniture stores. “We do that,” she explained, “by asking questions, then having them react to images. People have a hard time describing styles, but when they see an image, it becomes obvious.


I once did some design work for a couple who told me that they wanted their house in the Hamptons to have a country farmhouse feel. But, they were super glamorous people who didn’t seem to be country farmhouse types. So I showed them country farmhouse imagery which turned out to not be at all what they had in mind. Their idea of country farmhouse was sleek wood furniture with fine finishes.

“Providing lots of different visual images is an efficient way to find out if customers prefer traditional, modern traditional or more contemporary-leaning design. It’s also an excellent strategy for getting a head start choosing colors and patterns.”

Working With Emotions

“One thing that most people don’t realize about interior design is that it’s very much about emotion. There are all sorts of different feelings people want to experience from their newly designed spaces. We make sure to uncover this information before any design process begins. Do they want a room to feel contemplative, peaceful, enlivened or sexy? When they see a photo they might say, ‘I love that room’ or ‘That grey-blue color makes me feel like I’m in heaven.’

“These client conversations lead to an understanding of what may bring our clients joy. For one person it’s color. For another it’s surrounding themselves with photos of their children or showing off a collection of plates passed down from their grandmother.

“Even though I’m known for room designs that incorporate bright colors and patterns, we have clients who prefer to use neutrals. Whatever they want, we approach every project with passion.”

Creating Beautiful Homes

Huh said that common ground that interior designers have with home furnishings retailers is that both strive to help their customers create beautiful rooms. “Retailers, however,” she observed, “must anticipate what shoppers want and make sure that they have products available to purchase off the floor or be custom ordered from a limited number of suppliers. A big part of their job is to create an online or in-store environment that causes shoppers to think, ‘How did they know what I’m looking for?’


Young Huh is known for her colorful room designs and patterns but always starts with each client’s unique point of view. All rooms pictured in this article were created by Young Huh Interior Design (YHID).

“We are living through unusual times. We all need to take a deep breath and give retail a chance to figure out the new normal.

“Longer term, I believe that the Instagram model will become even more important.” The downside for customers, she noted, is that when they try to source things online, it’s not possible to get a sense of scale, proportion, craftsmanship or comfort. That’s why shows like High Point are becoming much more important to the design community.”

Design Inspiration

Aside from visiting High Point, Huh said she gets ideas from street artists, museums and design books. “I get lots of inspiration from handicrafts as well. She recently was the keynote speaker at the 2021 Bienenstock Future Designers Summit where creative minds in college and university design programs are introduced to the people, brands, and processes that are creating tomorrow’s homes. “They had to drag me out of the Bienenstock Furniture Library,” Huh recalled. With over 5,000 amazing volumes on furniture and design, the Bienenstock Library is full of inspiration for new design ideas that build on what came before.”

Her Escape From the Law

Young Huh has a personal story that her admirers and clients can relate to.


“By the end of my first week of Fordham Law,” she recalled, “I realized it just wasn’t for me. Somehow, I managed to get through and please my parents by passing the Bar and clerking for the New York Supreme Court. After that, I thought, ‘That’s it. I’m done!’”

Huh’s husband suggested that she think outside the box to find a new career path. He advised, “don’t let your education be a burden to you.”

Her “Ah-Ha” career moment occurred when she met an interior designer at a cocktail party who spoke in glowing terms about his profession. “I hounded him until he agreed to give me an internship,” she recalled.

One thing that most people don’t realize about interior design is that it’s very much about emotion. There are all sorts of different feelings people would like to experience from newly designed spaces.

Huh enrolled in classes at Parsons School of Design, then worked in the industry for a couple of years before starting her New York City-based design firm in 2007.

Storytelling

Furniture World asked her to comment on the importance of storytelling in the home furnishings industry.

“When companies have a story to tell,” she explained, “they engage their customers in a conversation about the culture of their brand and the brands that they sell. When a designer or furniture retailer takes the time to tell a story about the items clients are thinking of acquiring, the whole process becomes much less superficial. People feel that they aren’t just buying a chair. They are bonding with a piece of history or connecting with a culture of makers. It makes the process more meaningful to customers who know, for example, that they’ve purchased a piece of furniture made by craftsmen who have worked for a North Carolina furniture manufacturer for generations.”

Trends in Room Use & Design

Trend toward personal spaces: “The pandemic has changed how people want to live in their homes. Before COVID, open plan living, dining and kitchen areas were the norm. Now that our clients have spent so much time at home working, eating and studying, they are looking for separate dining rooms, family rooms and home offices. Room delineation has become a predominant trend in home design today.

“Everyone has been talking about multipurpose spaces, but I think that is going to trend down. It will remain important in vacation homes where families come together to socialize. For day-to-day living, however, people have gone back to wanting single-purpose rooms for sleeping, eating and working.”

Young Huh was the keynote speaker at the 2021 Bienenstock Future Designers Summit (above right) where creative minds in college and university design programs are introduced to the people, brands, and processes that are creating tomorrow’s homes.


Dining Areas: “Formal dining rooms are back with a vengeance. Millennials are entertaining at home. They’ve come to believe that it doesn’t take so much effort to serve take-out pizza on pretty dishes in a dining room that seats lots of people. It’s much more fun than entertaining in a family room kitchen combo that can seat maybe six people max.”

Bedrooms: “There’s a desire for bedrooms to become more peaceful spaces. Pre-Covid, people tended to design and use their bedrooms like hotel rooms. Now they want a place to get away from the kids, do some office work or Zoom quietly. Private spaces have become more important. People are spending more time decorating them, not to mention creating backgrounds for Zoom calls.”

There’s a surge of interest in heavy brown English furniture as well as lines like CB2 that have light, very modern shapes that are playful, organic and sculptural.

Style Trends: “At present, we see two extremes in furniture design. There’s a surge of interest in heavy brown English furniture as well as demand for lines like CB2 that have light, very modern shapes that are playful, organic and sculptural. At YHID we love to mix English antiques with Vladimir Kagin type sofas. It’s a really interesting mix supported by a trend toward people holding on to their old items as they collect new ones.” Furniture Word asked Young Huh if this ties in with the grandmillennial trend. “The resurgence of traditional design,” she replied, “had been going on for some time before the term grandmillennial was coined. Cottagecore is a related trend that’s also popular with younger people who have discovered the joys of Laura Ashely. Designs include diminutive items and accessories that are considered adorable, feel innocent and sweet. I believe that this feminine trend reflects a longing for simpler, sweeter, prettier times. Tween girls seem to be really into cottagecore, while many members of the millennial and younger demographic groups appreciate grandmillennial.

“In this age of individualism, multiple style trends are going on at once. On the one hand, there’s maximalism which is pattern on pattern—more is more. On the other side, there’s a minimal organic, natural trend that includes warm earthy woods, lots of texture, lightness and simplicity.”

Color Trends: “I don’t know what makes a certain color the color of the year. But, I’ve always liked the color of the year. Rich, earthy tones like ocher, orange, rust and oxblood are back in vogue. We’re also using colors like oatmeal, creams and every variety of taupe. Wood colors including white and grey oaks are trending.”


Pattern Trends: “Traditional French patterns are running very high. Also popular are patterns that hearken back to original cultures. People are enamored with West African patterns, Russian designs, native motifs, Chinese flowers, English chintz, Mexican handicrafts and Indian prints of all kinds. It’s a global world in terms of design that we combine in a beautiful way.”

Trends in Texture: “There’s been some real movement toward the use of jacquard wovens. The trend is toward incorporating rustic designs with more texture and authenticity by including some imperfections. There’s a lot of recycled work out there now that people love.”

Design Technology: “One of the biggest trends in home furnishings technology is biophilic lighting. It’s lighting that changes color according to the time of day. It helps people feel more connected with nature and may lessen seasonal affective disorder. Yellow-colored light in the brightness of day and blue light during the evening hours can be depressing. This new technology allows LED lights to change color temperature over time.

“Biophilic bulbs are expensive now, but that will change. Then we will be able to use an app to switch from morning, afternoon and evening light. I believe it’s going to be the next big thing in home lighting.”

Outdoor Spaces: “The trend toward creating outdoor living rooms will remain strong. It is being pushed forward with advances in outdoor fabrics, rugs, sofas, bar carts and outdoor kitchens. These amazing products will continue to change home owners’ relationships with the outdoors.”

In closing, Young Huh shared why she loves the home furnishings industry. “We work in a wonderful industry that’s made getting better by the camaraderie and cross-pollination of ideas.”



Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at editor@furninfo.com.

Design & Designer Series

Articles in Design & Designer Series