Designer Ryan Korban: Who Am I? - Design Bureau

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Ryan Korban (right) inside Edon Manor

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A home designed by Ryan Korban

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An Alexander Wang boutique designed by Ryan Korban

Designer Ryan Korban: Who Am I?

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

By Saundra Marcel
Portraits by Matthew Williams
Interior photos by Ditte Isager    

Although he’s one of the interior design industry’s hottest new talents, Ryan Korban seems to be having an identity crisis. This 28-year old self-taught designer doesn’t identify with interior designers as the title is typically defined. He doesn’t like to be called “tastemaker,” either. Perhaps be- cause he didn’t arrive by the typical path; he just knows he has a passion for creating beautiful spaces. “For me, it’s more about style and taste than design specifically. I’ll see something glamorous, and I’ll think, ‘How can I turn this into a room?’ It almost feels like the interior design is secondary.” 

Korban is co-owner of the New York boutique Edon Manor. This interior was his first ever endeavor, and the one that got him noticed. He’s since worked with Alexander Wang (who is a personal friend), luxury brands like Balenciaga, and done celebrity homes. Korban tells us in his own words about his aesthetic, his dreams, and why he wants to redefine the “decorator” title. 

"Sometimes I forget that people need to exist in these spaces. You know, comfort and functionality is sometimes not at the forefront. But with every project you have to strike a balance, and that’s something I’m still learning."

I’m so not a decorator, but I so am a decorator. When I think of decorators, I think of bow ties and old people. But I’ve actually grown to really like the title. I really do decorate. I’d rather take the title and redefine it than say I don’t want to be called that."

I’m not fashion obsessed. I think I have a healthy relationship with fashion. I’ve always loved everything to do with design, and that includes the clothing you wear. It’s actually that I love retail; I love the idea of luxury goods. Even when I travel, my first thing has always been to stop by every luxury store I could. ‘I’ve got to stop by this store, and I’ve got to see what that store looks like. What does Prada in Tokyo look like?’ How do I integrate interior design into my other disciplines? Because those are the disciplines I was exploring before interior design."

I will always have the same look. I’m very much a creature of habit. It’s not going to change—I just don’t think that’s possible. What I do tend to do is really explore material. When I make a decision to do something, I just want it. I’m obsessed with it. I’m going to cover every inch in zebra. Or velvet. Or marble. The most interesting thing to do is to take a material and to really go as far as you can with it."

It’s impossIble for there to be a young tastemaker of today. The idea of the tastemaker has died, the way designers in the past did it. Someone like Tony Duquette: He wasn’t really an interior designer, he was a tastemaker. That shone through in everything he did and he would very deservingly get a title like that. I’ve done articles and things where people say ‘the tastemakers,’ and I’m one of them. But I feel sad about that. People use that term too loosely. When you step back and think about it, who is a young tastemaker today? For all the articles magazines do on tastemakers, I don’t know any."

Aesthetic is not something you can learn in school. There are definitely times when I wish I knew a certain computer program. But what I can offer—and I don’t mean to sound obnoxious—is not something you can learn in school. My friends in architecture and interior design majors had time to develop their skill. I had time to develop my aesthetic. Those are two different things. It was important for me to understand my own point of view, to study European history, to study cultural media studies, important to know all about fashion. To know what all those things meant and how they could be brought together into building this aesthetic and this vision that is mine."

My biggest dream is that I stay here. If I could just know that there was another project—that this career isn’t going to come to an end—that’s what I covet the most. You put everything into something, and when it comes to an end, usually there’s something else you’re working on, but there’s that anxiety. There could be a lull, but it always comes. You just have to tell yourself that. The next best thing is always around the corner. For me, it’s a miracle, but it’s been true. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it always does."

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