“It’s that feeling when you know you’ve stumbled upon something extraordinary, “ says Daun Curry, founder of Modern Declaration, as she describes her first encounter with Ovando. Oh yes, we know the feeling. It was indeed love at first sight on our end as well when we uncovered the work coming out of the a New York-based interior design firm, celebrated for its love of light and texture. Recently honored with her 3rd Andrew Martin “Designer of the Year” Award, we were undeniably curious to learn more of the method behind the magnificence. And, upon a recent collaboration with Modern Declaration, we were indeed able to dig a little deeper into Daun’s creative genius…
Ovando: Tell us the story of Modern Declaration. (How is your background, how did you grow the business, etc?)
Daun Curry of Modern Declaration: Ever since high school English class, I have been deeply and personally moved by the poetry of Edna St Vincent Millay. In particular, her poem “Modern Declaration.” It is a manifesto of courageous, unwavering LOVE – a desire and a belief that no one can take what you love away from you. I thought Modern Declaration was the perfect vision for the company. Declaring my love for all things design. When I design, it makes me feel alive. A bit dramatic perhaps, but then, what else would you expect from a designer??
Ovando: What is it that most inspires your work?
Daun: People, art, fashion, nature, my daughter’s eyes…inspiration is everywhere. I was in a taxi today and I took a picture of the fender of city bus with my iphone. The patina of the metal made these amazing organic shapes and gradated hues! I was like “I want to make that into a patterned silk fabric!”
Ovando: Do you have a trademarked design trick or helpful hint? What is it that distinguishes your work today?
Daun: My helpful hint would be to trust your judgment and remember that balance and editing are always your friends. I am known for my layering of lighting and textures. I am not afraid to mix it all up. Whatever feels right, go with it, put it all out there. You can always make edits.
Ovando: What is your process when it comes to bringing to life a client’s vision? And, if your client doesn’t have any preconceived visions, how do you go about creating it for them?
Daun: When I first meet a client and visit a space, I just listen to them and absorb what is going on around me. Inspiration is all about feeling for me. I get a vibe for the energy of the client and the architecture of the space and I start getting visuals in my head. I am a very visual person. I don’t read a lot. I never have. I see all things from a visual point of view, even letters and numbers. As a child I thought there was something wrong with me. It took a long time for me to understand and come to terms with that. It is actually an incredible gift that I now cherish and lends itself very nicely for working in the design world.
Ovando: What is it you most LOVE about your job? Find most challenging?
Daun: I love what I do. I am grateful everyday that I get to design and that my work resonates with people. I also love the relationships I build with my clients. We become part of each other’s lives. When a project dies down and I’m not around as much, we miss each other.
Ovando: We loved collaborating with Modern Declaration on a recent installation. Are flowers always a large component of your work? Tell us a bit more about the project and your vision.
Daun: This project was for Moroccanoil co-founder Carmen Tal’s residence. She grew up on a beautiful estate in Chile and flowers and live plants were discussed from the very beginning as an integral part of the design. I really wanted to collaborate with a floral designer whose work would compliment the design of the space. It was late one evening and I was endlessly searching the web for something inspirational and that’s when I found Ovando. It’s that feeling you have when you know you’ve stumbled upon something extraordinary. Both whimsical and architectural at the same time…an elevated way of looking at flower design.
Ovando: You were recently awarded your 3rd Andrew Martin “Designer of the Year” award. What an honor! It must be so incredible to look back to your days at Parsons when you may have been thinking “One day!” along with many other young aspiring designers. And here it is! Tell us about your first ground-breaking project and any potential “Aha” moments you may have had along the way.
Daun: It is such an honor and I am truly humbled by all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in this industry. My first big break came a few years after I graduated from Parsons. I was hired to decorate a 5,000 square foot loft by real estate developer and entrepreneur Josh Guberman. Josh is a true visionary and his work in the industry is inspirational. I was a no-name at the time and Josh believed in me, something I will never forget. There was a huge press release party for the opening of the building featuring the loft I had designed. The exposure I got was incredible and as they say “the rest is history…..”
Ovando: Work aside, what is your favorite thing to do (or not do) every day? Any favorite activities, sayings, personal quirks that your friends love about you but might chuckle about all the same?
Daun: I love cooking dinner for my daughter every night, giving her a bath, bedtime stories……my softer mommy side…..
Getting dressed up and going on romantic dinner dates with my husband……
Going dancing with my girlfriends…..
Loving, laughing, living life to the fullest…..
Ovando: What is your vision for the future of Modern Declaration?
Daun: I love my staff dearly and we all really enjoy working together. Our common undying love of design always pushes us in new directions . There are no limits. I want to do it all. We are currently working on a fabric line and a home accessories collection.
Thank you for chatting with us, Daun! We can’t wait to see what’s next…
Photos by Emily Gilbert Photography