When something is custom-made, it connotes certain characteristics: exclusivity, intentionality, and intimacy. The act of meticulously crafting something specific to the needs and desires of the intended owner insinuates intentionality in design and exclusivity in nature because of its rarity and originality. Furthermore, it inherently reflects intimacy because it serves as a reflection of the owner’s personality, beliefs, and values. These guiding characteristics of labeling something custom-made illustrate its relationship to luxury because its ultimate goal is to craft something highly personalized and attractive for one individual and not the masses.
The allure of custom-made creations can be found in designing and furnishing a home. From the planning process to the finished product of interior and architectural design, the aim is to customize a space that is unique and attractive to the owner. In other words, making a house feel like a home.
The planning process for designing a home requires participation and effective communication between the designer and the client. Without these two ingredients, the finished product will fail to accomplish the client’s needs and expectations. Therefore, it is the designer and client’s responsibility to develop a relationship that goes beyond basic design choices and alterations. The designer must understand the client’s personality, beliefs, and aesthetic values to make proper decisions on the artistic direction of the home. It can be difficult to get the client to articulate what they want so understanding who they are on a deeper level will ensure it is as personalized and intimate as possible.
A prime example of tailoring the design process to the client is Architectural Digest's recent feature on Emma Chamberlain’s Beverly Hills home in Los Angeles. Designed by Ashley Drost and Marie Trohman of Proem Studio, the project’s goal was to not only meet Chamberlain’s residential needs and desires but to incorporate her personality and spirit into the home.
“Every decision was made in conjunction with the client to suit her needs, including converting a bedroom into a full dressing room,” Proem studios said.
According to Mayer Rus, writer for Architectural Digest, Chamberlain’s home exemplifies the intersectionality between custom-made design and luxury through the inclusion of exclusive furnishing pieces that honor the home’s original design and the added elements featuring Chamberlain’s personality.
“The house deftly mirrors its inhabitant’s chill, laid-back vibe and intriguing sensibility, which privileges the unexpected and idiosyncratic over predictable design trophies and tired signifiers of luxury,” said Rus.
Chamberlain’s home introduces a tension between the concept of custom-made and interior and architectural design. Should a client consider the home’s original design purpose when they remodel it? Or, is custom-made design the act of crafting something from the ground up? For Chamberlain, her custom-made home required a bit of both: Preserving some elements of the home's intended design but, ultimately, designing and furnishing it with elements that reflected her love and appreciation for diverse designs.
“I brought in references from many decades and design eras, and I tried to meld them into something that feels not only cohesive but new. It wasn’t about following the rules or sticking to one aesthetic. I tried to approach it all with a lightheartedness and an open mind,” Chamberlain said.
A truly custom-made home for Chamberlain entailed furnishing each room to a different decade and design era. While it may be a design choice that not everyone agrees with, it speaks to the definition of custom-made design. It is meant to personalize the creation to
the client, satisfying their needs and expectations.
From each unique stage piece to the bedroom that was strategically converted into a closet, these customizations speak to the highly customizable and intentional nature of the custom-made design. Proem studios labeled Chamberlain’s residence as a “high-end home” for that very reason: its exclusive, customized designs intimately reflect the identity of the owner.
Chamberlain said it best when describing the satisfaction of a custom-made home.
“I don’t really care if people don’t like it. I’m the one who lives here, so I have to love it. And I do,” Chamberlain said.
- Written by Isabel Crespo