It's always a fun day when Andrew Alford stops by! Andrew, the creative mind behind our infamous Animalistic Animals collection, visited Astek HQ and answered some questions for us (he likes wombats and hates raisins, in case you were wondering).
With more than 20 years of design and creative direction experience behind him, Andrew continues to make waves in the interior and product design industries. Recognizable for his unique perspective and fresh ideas, his CV includes designing more than 30 hotels for AJ Capital Partners (including all Graduate hotels and restaurants), as well as the award-winning Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans, LA. Prior to his work at AJ Capital Partners, Andrew's experience ranged from being the Style Manager of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, as well as the founder and principal of Andrew Alford Design Studio, servicing clients ranging from Joie de Vivre to Starwood.
Read on to learn more about his thoughts on design, love of color, and why he refuses to be pigeon-holed into a particular style.
You're waging a war against beige. Does your distaste for beige have an origin story?
Funny story! I grew up in Akron, OH and when I was a junior in high school, we took a class field trip to the local art museum. The museum was doing an amazing collaboration with the world renowned polymers department at the University of Akron. The polymer scientists had been studying the plasticity and strength of various breeds of spiders’ webs and then using that research to alter the qualities of the spiders' silk. They involved the art museum when some of their test subjects started building webs in a rainbow of saturated colors. Long story short, a genetically altered rainbow spider bit me on a class field trip and when I woke up I hated beige. Or, I’ve just loved color since the day I was born.
Where does your love of color come from? Do you have a favorite color or color combo?
I really do see my love of color as a hard wired trait. When I was four, my mom gave me my first design job. She let me pick wallpaper for my bedroom. I had a very clear vision that I wanted a “wall of crayons!” and I forced my poor parents to scour wallpaper stores looking for the exact thing I had in my head. My true vision was to have Crayola’s in strong colors, but all we found was a very 1970s lemon yellow, avocado, and pale orange hippy dippy pattern of cascading crayons. Punchline, I was stuck with it until I was almost fifteen. I can still picture the exact yellow, green, and orange in that pattern and I can say with complete certainty that I have never used those colors in my professional career. On the flip side, hot neon coral. That’s my all time favorite. I almost view it as a neutral.
How would you describe your design style? Any particular inspirations behind it?
How would I describe my design style? I don’t think I would. As a creative and an artist, I strive to have a career like David Bowie, where there are chapters and phases and threads, but not one style. I hope this comes across as pretentious as it’s intended, but I would rather be known for a design philosophy that transcends beyond physical notions of time and form. But I also want to be the guy that builds an entire hotel brand based on juvenile potty humor. I’m actually not joking about that if anyone wants to invest $150 million in beautiful fart joke hotels. (I’m really not kidding.)
You're quite the snazzy dresser. What's your relationship to fashion? Does it inform your interiors?
I have a very personal relationship with my wardrobe. There’s an obvious fun to it, but for me it goes much deeper than that. I genuinely believe that every moment of my life should be lived as creatively as possible. My wardrobe allows me to express my thoughts and ideas in so many different ways depending on what’s going on inside my heart and my head. Like many creatives, I struggle with depression and anxiety. Putting on something bright and wacky can often help boost me out of a low point by reminding myself of who I really am and what I’m about. Outside of creative expression though, the other important function of my clothes is to overcome social awkwardness. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as shy, but I’m not good at initiating conversations. If I’m wearing something eccentric, I never have to be the one to start a dialogue. Someone always comes up and says something to me first.
Tell us a secret! What's something people might be surprised to learn about you?
I can tie a cherry stem in my mouth.