Cheryl Katz, Interior Designer

July 14, 2009

Text by Stacy Kunstel    Photography by Eric Scott

 

Cheryl Katz and her husband, architect Jeffrey Katz, are a formidable team. Their company, C and J Katz Studio, works on a variety of residential and commercial projects in the Boston area.

 

Stacy Kunstel, Homes Editor: Everything I see of yours always seems so fresh. Where does that creativity come from and how do you keep it?
Cheryl Katz: In general, we have a philosophy that design is freewheeling. We like to borrow ideas for design from all over. That's partly because Jeffrey and I live together and work together. Work life and home life and love life is all one big stew. It's been that way for twenty years.

SK: What's your background?
CK: I was in fashion before I was in the world of interiors and decoration. Jeffrey is trained as an architect. It's the marriage of those two things, the combination of talents, and it's what we do all the time.

SK: When did you decide you were going to make the transition into more residential design work?
CK: We were the creative directors for Domain stores when they first opened. We were consultants to them. A combination of that and for ten years we were the design columnists for the Boston Globe Magazine.

SK: Having been in fashion for so long, how do you look at projects differently than other designers?
CK: One of the things I love about what I do is working with textiles. It's like doing collections or dressing a room that I adore. My favorite part of an installation is when I get to arrange and rearrange and rearrange every lamp, every vase, every picture, every throw. I don't think a room comes alive until it gets that stuff in it.

SK: How did you make the decision to go full-time into interior design and architecture and what brought you back to Boston?
CK: We knew we had something unique together. Life is fluid, so we've always followed the path where it leads. We were living in New York but decided to come back here because we had a two-year-old and it felt more manageable. We bought a slum in Beacon Hill, a small building that had tenants in it. As our tenants moved out we'd take over their space. When we moved back full time we gutted the house and renovated it and put our office on the first floor.

SK: You eventually outgrew the office space and moved to your current location at 60 K Street when?
CK: About ten years ago. We have eight people who work with us.

SK: Is it a collaborative atmosphere?
CK: Totally collaborative, totally collegiate. We look for people who have broad interests and roving sensibilities. You have to be a self-starter to work here. We're lousy managers. We're totally unorganized. We are completely undisciplined.

SK: Are there any office rules?
Someone in the background shouts, “You have to be here by ten.”
CK: You have to love food. We always try to have lunch together.

SK: I guess that ties into the restaurant designs you've done for Barbara Lynch at No. 9 Park, B and G Oyster, and the Butcher Shop.
CK: Everyone here is really interested in food and we can easily sit around the table for an hour dissecting what we got at South End Fromagerie for lunch.

SK: You talk about design as if it comes from a very loving place inside you.
CK: I would say that's very true. We really like to partner with our clients, discover who they are, bring our kind of brand mentality with us to determine who are these people, how do they want to live.

SK: What's the brand mentality that you wanted to establish with your firm?
CK: We wanted to be completely transparent. We believe in accessibility of design. We never mark up a product, ever. If we walk into a room and it has incredible bones and it just needs one comfortable chaise and a chandelier, that's all I want to give them. I'm not going to tell them they need two sofas and three chairs. We're always looking for organic, offbeat, wacky things.

SK: Where do you find those things?
CK: Everywhere. I shop a lot. I love a store in Brookline called Pod on Washington Street, Joanne Rossman Design in Roslindale, Black Ink, Nomad. I use the Boston Design Center. I draw from the world at large. I love stores that have power. Stores with power have personality, obsession, whimsy, entertainment and romance. That's emblematic of our philosophy.

SK: Being born and raised in Boston, you've seen the design shift here. What has you excited right now?
CK: I'm really excited about a new project I'm doing with Barbara Lynch and David Hacin called FP3. I'm excited because the South End just gets better and better. I love to shop Lekker and Hudson. The only thing I really miss are the antiques stores that used to line Charles Street.

SK: What's the last thing you bought for your home?
CK: An orange ceramic starfish with little white dots on it from Global Table in New York. The last big item was a bed, a totally simple, modern, metal-framed bed.