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Schuyler Samperton
Schuyler Samperton

Meet Schuyler Samperton: the textiles queen of the west coast

Schuyler Samperton is no stranger to change. The Los Angeles-based interior designer, known for marrying classic designs with exotic patterns, has more than once altered course to embrace the opportunities that life has thrown at her. And 2020 has been no different.

Samperton’s design career began in 2003 when a serendipitous meeting with celebrated interior designer Michael S Smith changed her life forever. While working as a publicist at Fox, Samperton met Smith, best known for refitting the White House for the Obamas. They quickly became friends and, knowing Samperton was considering leaving LA, Smith suggested she take a career break and help him out for a few weeks. She took a leap of faith into the unknown.

A dining room by Schuyler Samperton Interior Design
Schuyler Samperton juxtaposes antique furniture with bold fabrics

Two weeks into what was meant to be a temporary position, one of the firm’s designers went on maternity leave and Samperton inherited her design projects. “All of a sudden, I was doing design work,” she says. “Michael does not micromanage so I had all this responsibility thrust on me and I realised this is what I’ve always wanted to do. It felt like a perfect fit.”

With her background in the entertainment industry, Samperton was paired up with high-profile clients. “The level of clients was just insane,” she says. “We worked with Rupert Murdoch, Steven Spielberg, Cindy Crawford, the Rothschilds… I went from zero to 60 in terms of learning. I was tossed into the fire, but it was an amazing experience.”

After four years, she left and launched her own studio, which quickly became the top pick of California’s elite homeowners who were drawn in by Samperton’s dynamic personality and unique approach to design.

A star is born

Everything about Samperton is authentic, fresh and colourful. Raised by an architect father and a fashion-savvy mother, Samperton learnt about the power of individualism from a young age. “My mom was very bold in her fashion choices and we were brought up to march to the beat of a different drummer,” she says. “I wasn’t allowed to wear blue jeans until I was in high school, which I didn’t understand at the time. She steered me into thinking in a different way.”

As a designer, Samperton is known for combining the classic with the unexpected, often pairing antique furniture with bright, patterned fabrics. She isn’t married to one particular design era or style, allowing her great flexibility. “I mix it up and enjoy working in different styles, from super contemporary to ‘granny chic’. If there’s any consistent thread, I’d say that I really love to make spaces unique, comfortable and personal. I strive to make every interior individual and particular to that client, the environment and the architecture,” she says.

A living room by Schuyler Samperton Interior Design
Schuyler Samperton has decorated homes across California, from the Hollywood Hills to Miami Beach

“You need some tension in a room. I love the juxtaposition of pairing a contemporary piece of art with a beautiful antique commode or console table,” she adds. “I also like seeing odd colour combinations and things that catch your eye – these are more inspiring and energetic for me.”

It’s an approach that’s working well with her clients, which comprise mostly high-flyers in California’s entertainment, finance and music industries.

You need some tension in a room. I love the juxtaposition of pairing a contemporary piece of art with a beautiful antique commode – Schuyler Samperton

A bedroom by Schuyler Samperton Interior Design
Schuyler Samperton uses fabrics to create certain moods

Turning to textiles

One constant across Samperton’s work is bold textiles, which she’s been obsessed with since she can remember. “When I was a teenager, I would collect fragments from vintage stores and turn them into pillows. It could have been anything from an antique kimono to a Native American piece or some French chintz. I loved it all,” she says. “For me, fabrics are the soul of a room. You can create happiness or moodiness; you can direct the feel of the space through fabrics and colour.”

After a decade running her studio, Samperton became frustrated with the options of new fabrics available so went back to the drawing board and in 2017, she released her own line of textiles. “I wanted to create something that was compatible with all the vintage and antique textile pieces that I had and reflected my favourite things,” she says. The collection was an instant hit and has expanded year on year to total 80 pattern sets with various colour options. One of her favourites is Cordoba: “We do it in seven colours and I love the plum!”

Joining the movement

When the Covid-19 crisis hit the US, Samperton, like many business owners, was faced with a dilemma: wait out the storm or pivot and adapt. She opted for the latter and used her time to develop and launch two new product lines: wallpaper and performance fabric. “I’ve always loved wallpaper and the extra layer of warmth and character it brings to a space. We had so many requests for it that we happily added it to the line,” she says. As for performance, she says: “It makes sense for the way people are living. Because of the pandemic, spaces are getting used more than ever, so we wanted to join the movement and offer some of our most popular prints in more durable versions.”

Fabrics created by the interior designer
Samperton’s fabric sales were up by 400% in some territories in 2020

Launching new products and running a business during a pandemic was a struggle, but one that paid off. “We were a little concerned about launching something new during this time because we didn’t know if people had the emotional bandwidth to start looking at things but, thank goodness, we’ve been super busy,” she says. “I think it’s because people are in their homes so much that they’re noticing things and thinking ‘it wouldn’t be a bad idea to re-cover this sofa or refresh that room.’ I think that’s one of the unexpected results of this whole thing. Certain industries have been able to thrive and, knock on wood, the design business is one of them.”

It seems serendipity has struck again and, once again, Samperton has found herself in the right place at the right time. In the past quarter, her fabric sales were up on last year in all markets – in some territories, by a staggering 400%. As for the future, she plans to add more lines to the new collections and continue following the path that life sets out for her. With added colour, of course.

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