Celebrity Interior Designer Dann Foley Draws Inspiration from Bold and Classic Influences
Written By: Jeff Cooper Quintessential Palm Springs Design with Dann Foley
Photographed By: Tae Kwon
The Expert: Dann Foley, Celebrity Interior Designer
The only thing more vibrant than Dann Foley’s design aesthetic is the man himself. His design style is colorful and eclectic and he has worked with a variety of clients on homes throughout North America and the world. His home base of Palm Springs provides him with inspiration and serenity. We sat down with him to see what makes him thrive in California’s world-renowned little desert town and how the world of Dann Foley is taking on the world of design.
To give a sense of his reach and scope, Dann Foley is simultaneously working on television projects, home product lines, speaking engagements, books and is still working with clients nationwide. He is innovative and hardworking, having recently finished a home in Charleston while managing projects in California and Chicago. Once people work with Dann, they come back for more.
Q: How did you get into the interior design business?
Dann Foley: I went to school for design—I have always wanted to do this. I ended up in this business by plan. I started my firm as an extra credit project in school and the business just started growing.
Q: Who and what inspires your work?
DF: It really comes from everywhere. Everywhere I go and places I see. I travel a lot with clients and it has become a great source of inspiration. I draw a lot of inspiration from classic movies; I am crazy about classic films. Movies are the perfect source of creativity; you can be anything. Whether you want to live in a palace or a log cabin, it’s in film.
Q: How do you describe your aesthetic?
DF: I am best known for what is truly an eclectic look; it’s really a transitional feel. I like a mix of new and old, modern, contemporary with classic and antique. What makes me unique is that I really get into my client’s lives—I want my work to speak to their true taste and personality. Design must be based on their needs and desires.
I am also known for my use of color and pattern. Everyone is afraid of color—but I ease people into it and layer it on! In this world of homogenized retail, color is one of the few places we have left as consumers to make a statement about who we are. It’s just paint!
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
DF: Always design! I used to re-arrange the furniture in the house when my parents were out for dinner; I experimented in my home! Now I experiment in my own homes, which my parents probably prefer!
Q: Tell us about American Dream Builders:
DF: It was the first design and renovation show done in prime time on network television. I had been made offers for other shows but this was an opportunity like none before! We were given so much product and resources, more than had been seen before, which was a great draw for me; we were given budgets and resources that made it exciting.
These reality shows are filmed typically in 6-8 weeks but this show took four months to film and we worked up to 20 hours a day and six days a week—you only went home when you were eliminated! I was in all but one episode. It was a very interesting and fun experience, but exhausting! I believe I went into it with the right attitude, I had already done television and I knew if I were going to make a statement or name for myself it was up to me! I had to be prepared to use my time on the show to my own advantage.
Q: Do you enjoy being on television? How does it compare to your other roles?
DF: What I like about television is the amount of people I can reach with my design story and aesthetic. I have a large reach as it is with my brand, so I do a number of appearances with my product, which lets me meet buyers, designers and creators. It is not unusual for me to stand in front of a crowd speaking about design, and I really enjoy it no matter the format!
Q: Where do you like to go out in Palm Springs?
DF: This is a resort town—every place is a bar, a lounge and a restaurant. Just depends on the time of day you go! One of my favorites would have to be 849 Restaurant and Lounge, it’s one of the newest places in town. Birba is another favorite: it’s all outdoors and behind a hedge. They have an artisan menu with handmade pizzas and salads. This is a place to see and be seen, but is a fun place to relax under the stars.
Q: Tell me about your home in Palm Springs, what is your favorite room?
DF: I would say my favorite room to design is always a living space. I have lived in condos, townhouses and homes. I have designed modern homes, Spanish homes and contemporary homes—among others. Now I am in a Mediterranean home but my own style and look is what I love to do best. My house is designed to tell a story about my life. But in this house my favorite room to be in is my bedroom—I like a big bedroom and when I don’t have to leave my house I love to stay in there. If I had a kitchen in there I would never have to leave! Something else I love about the house is that every room has access to the outdoors—this is Palm Springs!
Q: Why do you stay based in Palm Springs?
DF: Palm Springs is known all over the world—but if you’ve never been here people don’t realize what a small town it is! In LA, the joy of Southern California has been sucked out by the traffic! We don’t have the same issues here.
Also, it may sound new age, but the mountains have energy of their own—they draw you in. It’s the truth! I love coming home, when you come out of the plane at the airport, you are actually outdoors and you can see straight towards the mountains. It is the most comforting sight I have every time I fly home. I also work out a great deal—everyday I am outside working out by 6 a.m., whether it is yoga, biking, hiking or running. I look at those mountains and say, my God I am lucky. I travel to fabulous places but come back to this world-renowned small town.
Q: Any upcoming news?
DF: I am constantly launching new product, check it out online and in fine retailers! Beyond that, television wise … I’ll just leave it at—stay tuned!
Film Buff: Dann is currently writing a book about how film has influenced his design. Specifically focused on a set designer who was with MGM for over 30 years! “So much of design is directly rooted in old films, from the 30s, 40s and 50s. The influence is present today in new design!” says Dann.
High Society: Dann was the keynote speaker and MC for the Interior Design Society’s 2016 Black Tie Gala held in Dallas, Texas.