Go big or go home is the Texas motto and Duffy Stone does the former, very well, with major color. Her minimalistically mod flavor which she has brought all around the country deeply resonates with The New Southern. Inherently refreshing and visually compelling, her creative energy is woven in and out of each one of her boutique retail and residential spaces. From the bright color palettes and modern curves of Olive NYC, the deconstructed vibe of Esby, to the sunny and sophisticated aesthetic of Beehive in Austin...each space that she designs has a flair of its own. In her world there are no boundaries, rules don’t exist, and imagination runs wild.
A little more fearless and a little less comfortable, Duffy is a woman after my own heart. She is the epitome of The New Southern’s playful self, catching national attention as an Austin trendsetter for her often bold, colorful interiors. Incorporating massive macro prints as wallpaper together with fringe, fresh new shapes, tastes, and eclectic pieces. She’s a modern day 70’s glam queen with an artfully curated eye. She allows those that step into her spaces to dream through thoughtfully and well-selected shape, texture, and scale. Charismatic and rebellious — from the choice of color to the nooks and crannies. Her interiors gracefully dance the line between whimsically modern and mid-century glam. Effortlessly chic and pulled together with an incredible ability to transport into a soulful escape. Her cheeky, spirited approach to design stems from a quirky boldness that I absolutely love to highlight.
We sat down with Duffy to chat about her take on modern Southern design (and hospitality) and how she’s creating live-in, layered spaces that are oozing with personality.
Alyssa Rosenheck: Tell me about yourself.
Duffy Stone: I’m a designer based in Austin, Texas specializing in retail design. I am rooted in Austin, but work all over including NY and LA designing retail spaces. I recently (6 weeks ago!) had a baby boy named Sonny. Work never slowed down during the pregnancy — and I’m still going strong even with a baby here. It’s fun to have a new partner in crime in the playful world of Interiors.
AR: How are you modernizing / updating Southern style when you design?
DS: Southern style is far from minimal. To me it is colorful, layered, warm and most importantly, inviting. I always include rich colors in my designs, and I love to push that on clients. I make sure to keep my projects clean but lived-in. It’s really important in my line of work that the spaces are welcoming to all sorts of folks. Making sure that people feel comfortable to come in is always the first priority in retail design. The experience is everything. It’s always a fun challenge for me, especially when designing spaces that are far from traditionally Southern, to have Southern hospitality with a modern twist on it — using specific materials, color combinations, and shapes.
AR: What are your favorite hometown design boutiques?
DS: My favorite Austin design boutiques are Wildflower Organics, Uptown Modern, Room Service Vintage, and Austin Antique Mall. They have the friendliest faces working there, so I always make sure to have time to shop and hang out. To my clients, don’t worry — I don’t bill for the hang out time.
AR: Favorite shade of white and black paint color?
DS: “Ultra Pure White” by Behr and “Tricorn Black” by Sherwin-Williams.
AR: What’s your life motto?
DS: Feeling nervous is a good sign you’re making something original. If you get too comfortable, you’re probably on repeat.
AR: The one shade that changes everything? Tell us what mood it evokes and when / how you’ve used it.
DS: Red! It’s so bold and moody. It instantly adds so much character to a space. I love to paint open doorway arches red for an unexpected color moment. In my own home, I did that heading into the nursery and I have a feeling that the baby really likes the color choice.
AR: The place you go to get inspired?
DS: I love walking around Mayfield Park or the Blanton Museum in Austin for inspiration. I think we are really lucky to have those two places in our city.
AR: Design advice you’ve gotten that made all the difference?
DS: I follow NOLA-based artist Ashley Longshore on Instagram and she’s a daily motivation to hustle. I find advice relayed via her social media. She has a really great attitude towards working for yourself, how to keep your chin up, and career moving up.
AR: What’s your advice for mixing old with new?
DS: Just do it! This only never works if you overthink it. It’s a really simple way to make a great design with lots of depth. People are always so hesitant to mix and find a million reasons why things don’t work or shouldn’t go together. I never get that — just let it roll.
AR: What’s your dream project / client?
DS: Retail design has always been my baby, but since a new little sheriff named Sonny has rolled into town, I have been naturally drawn to kids' spaces. I think the dream project now would be to design a really magical set for a children’s film. Something really over the top that I wouldn’t get a chance to do on a normal day-to-day basis. Something that my baby would think is really cool.