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There’s a lot of trust, strength, and comfort in our time together,” Mara Miller says into her speakerphone, as she and her husband, Jesse Carrier, peruse the wares at Jefferson West Antiques in Culver City, Calif. “We know each other’s history and what’s informed our aesthetics, but we have unique points of view and are respectful of each others choices.”
She is, of course, talking about Carrier, who’s also the father of her two children and the other half of Carrier and Company, the duo’s New York-based interior design firm. “He’s more of a colourist and I think more in terms of floor plans and furniture selection,” she continues. “We have complementary parts…but we kind of do everything together.”
Togetherness is a philosophy they’ve been following for quite some time. Miller and Carrier met (serendipitously, in his words) and began dating while studying interior design at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating, they worked at separate firms for 10 years before launching Carrier and Company in 2005. “We’re married with children, and that was the impetus to starting our business,” she says. “We realized that it was important to have one schedule.”
“Isn’t it terrible?” Carrier chimes in to joke. “We’re just too reasonable and rational.” That even-keeled sensibility has served them well. Eleven years into operating under their owner moniker, they count some of the world’s most influential tastemakers as clients, including fashion designer Jason Wu, photographer Annie Leibovitz, and Town & Country editor-inchief Jay Fielden. And they recently released their first book, Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors.
The hardcover leads with a foreword by Vogue editorin– chief, Condé Nast artistic director and Carrier supporter Anna Wintour, in which she calls the pair decorating geniuses with the ability to please everyone, and praises “the elegance and exactitude of the aesthetic decisions, the flawless mix of neo-classicist rigor and Scandinavian chic, the Art Deco élan and the rustic simplicity” and “how each and every interior embodies a real sense of personal charm.”
“The fact that Anna was happy to write something so touching for our foreword is certainly a career highlight,” says Carrier. “Having style icons put their faith in our work is a real high for us. It’s a marker of how well we do what we do.”
Their formula for success can be boiled down to their intimate partnership, incredible work ethic, signature aesthetic (achieved by mixing classic and contemporary components to create fresh, refined spaces with bursts of exuberance and eclecticism) and a practical backbone.
“Our spaces aren’t cluttered; they have clarity and a livable quality about them,” says Carrier. Miller finishes his thought: “A home is a place you want to be proud of and comfortable in. There has to be somewhere to put your keys, space to sit down and take off your boots, and another to serve people drinks. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the items are if nobody can function easily.”
The last – and perhaps most intriguing – piece of Carrier and Company’s ethos is its mission to connect people with place by developing interiors as personal reflections of their occupants. “One way I describe our process to clients is like method acting,” says Miller. “We try to truly understand them, decipher what’s important to them, and learn what makes them feel good. Sometimes it’s about blending the disparate agendas of a couple. If, say, one is a modernist and the other is a clutter bug, we’re able to make a hybrid space.”
This coming week, Miller and Carrier will be in Toronto for the Interior Design Show and the couple see the visit as much an opportunity to raise their international profile as a chance to find new sources for furniture and accessories. “Toronto has a fairly urbane and sophisticated collection of furniture,” Miller says. “To be able to hit the city’s shops in person will allow us to feel more confident when shopping online and referencing the dealers’ websites. So much of our work is done digitally now.”
Mara Miller and Jesse Carrier appear in conversation with Globe Style fashion editor Odessa Paloma Parker at the Interior Design Show in Toronto on Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, visit interiordesignshow.com.