Designer Crush: Cliff Fong
Los Angeles-based interior designer Cliff Fong of Matt Blacke Inc. knows that to craft a livable yet luxurious interior, you need a thoughtful design. With a fashion background as a buyer and stylist, Fong uses his wide range of aesthetic influences to craft layered, collected interiors where casual elements and sophisticated, elegant style mesh, resulting in downright-enviable spaces. Subdued palettes and wise-with-age vintage pieces (Fong is co-founder of LA vintage and antiques shop Galerie Half) combine with contemporary elements to create personal environments perfectly suited to the designer's discerning clientele. Read on for an insight into Fong's process and click through our slideshow -- you'll soon see what all the fuss is about.
Claim to Fame
"While working in fashion and traveling around Europe I began collecting furniture, mostly French post-war modern," Fong tells us. "Doing interior design projects became sort of a hobby and brought in some nice supplemental income. Six years ago, I decided to concentrate on interiors completely and created my own firm and launched Galerie Half." A designer to the stars -- he has worked with high profile clientele including Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi as seen in Elle Decor -- Fong has been named one of Hollywood Reporter's 25 Most Influential Designers in Los Angeles.
"My personal aesthetic has its roots in European antiques but with modern accents," the designer shares. "I like mixing things in a way that one might not usually expect, yet that creates some camaraderie when you see them together. This aesthetic varies widely as I take cues from my clients' interests as well as the architecture of the space I'm working with. I think it's aways important to acknowledge history, or at least create some within an environment."
"I love the patina of a Gustavian antique," the designer shares. "I have a weakness for an original piece by Pierre Chareau, Charlotte Perriand, or Jean Prouvé, and I'm also attracted to substantial and primitive pieces like a solid piece of carved wood or a natural-edged stone table top."
The purity of Fong's designs. The designer steers clear of trends, themes, and motifs. "I will use fewer, albeit more important, pieces of work that validate the environment," he shares. We love Fong's innate knack for mixing the weathered with the modern, old with new, as well as his respect and consideration of a space's architectural bones.
With more than a dozen residential projects in progress between New York and Los Angeles, Fong is keeping busy across the country. Pistola, a new eatery from chef Vic Casanova, which he'll be wrapping up shortly, is the designer's second restaurant project; he also crafted the interiors of Top Chef-alum Michael Voltaggio's restaurant ink.
"I get inspired from traveling, and lately Budapest has been a great source of inspiration for me," Fong tells us. "Much of its creative history was stifled during the communist era and left untouched. Visiting there today presents a wealth of Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces that have been sold or salvaged to humble dealers. When I find a pure or interesting form, I think it's great to incorporate this into our more casual aesthetic here in California. These sorts of pieces also work great against the backdrop of the more lavish 17th and 18th century architecture in my European projects."