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Designer Mat Sanders's Trendy Take on California Cool

By MELISSA GOLDSTEIN

F ans of Los Angeles design firm Consort’s playful, trend-savvy take on undone California cool have its co-founders yin/yang dynamic to thank. The company’s partners in work and life, creative director Mat Sanders and development director Brandon Quattrone, each bring distinct, complementary skills to their many projects. Sanders previously worked as a design editor for Apartment Therapy, Domino and MyDomaine, while Quattrone, a trained architect, worked at New York firm ShOP architects and on the design and development team at SoulCycle.

The New York City transplants officially settled in LA in 2013 – from there, the pair’s firm took shape organically. Sanders’ celebrity home makeovers on MyDomaine led to a line of A-list personalities returning to him for follow-up commissions. “As projects needed renovation or things that were beyond my scope as a style editor, I would bring Brandon into the fold,” says Sanders, whose business counts Jessica Alba, Nicole Richie and Jimmy Kimmel among its many admirers. “Then, as things happen in the design world, everything is word of mouth – before we knew it, we had a little interior design firm on our hands.”

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The big reveal: Thanks to Sanders's design expertise, homeowners Ben and Michele got the living room of their dreams.

A lot has happened since you first started: you dipped your toes in brick-and-mortar on both coasts, not to mention launching your own furniture line. Tell us about what’s next.

Last April we launched a made-to-order furniture collection inspired by Paris flea markets, mixed with our California cool vibes, with a big focus on customization; that went very well. It was fun working directly with the trade, so we scaled back on interior design services, moved the sales online, and are now focusing on being product-led as a company. We were recently acquired by Community Manufacturing to bring all of the production under one roof.

Before and after shots from the episode 2 of Working the Room, where Sanders transformed a blank living room into an upscale space.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY Kevin Lynch.

Your debut furniture collection dabbles in French modernist influences. What design moment has your attention for the next release?

Every time we release a collection I want to take a fashion strategy, so that it’s always inspired by something new and different. I’m playing with the idea right now of normcore as a design idea that I haven’t seen done in furniture before. I haven’t fully realized it yet, but I’m playing with elements and ideas.

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Sanders chose to accent the space with dusty blues, vibrant golds and silky white accents. Kevin Lynch

“Every time we release a collection I want to take a fashion strategy, so that it’s always inspired by something new and different.”

How do yours and Brandon’s backgrounds inform your senses of style?

I started in interiors from the editorial world, so I was always celebrating all different kinds of styles of design. I would pull from here and there and mix those things to develop my own point of view. I like pattern, I like color, I like texture. And Brandon is an architect so he is more minimal and clean – like, what are the necessities that we need in this space and nothing more. I’m always adding stuff into a room and he’s always taking things out.

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Small details, like the desk succulent and translucent drapery, make the room's new aesthetic succinct. Photograph by Kevin Lynch.
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Cozy armchairs add extra seats for visitors. Photograph by Kevin Lynch.
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Warm light from the dining room's chandelier complements the room's natural light. Kevin Lynch

You’ve prioritized social media as part of your business plan from the beginning. Given that certain aesthetics perform better than others online, how has that shaped what you put out into the world?

I always joke that when we started doing design for clients we would design for likes, thinking: "This is what’s trending right now." We’re in a moment when Instagram is playing with the idea of removing likes from public views and I’m really excited about that from a design perspective, because I’m getting tired of seeing all of these white rooms with high-contrast blown-out exposure and pops of color. On social media, it’s all about portraying the happiest life possible, and in rooms that translates into bright and clean and airy. If you remove those likes from the equation, I think we’re going to start seeing people take more risks with posting cool, moody rooms that feel fabulous but might not necessarily inspire people to double-tap. I just want to have a free for all. I think we’re going to see a new sense of expression in the design world and just among people in general.

If you remove those "likes" from the equation, I think we're going to start seeing people take more risks...we're going to see a new sense of expression in the design work and just among people in general.

What designer or vintage piece do you find yourself returning to when creating spaces for your clients?

I love Italian Modernism, so I always find myself leaning back to Marco Zanuso pieces.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES SHOTS OF SANDERS ON WORKING THE ROOM, A NEW DESIGN SHOW ON A+E NETWORK FEATURING FURNITURE FROM SOTHEBY'S HOME.

Tell us about the last time you got goosebumps from a design encounter.

The Faena Hotel in Miami is the most over-the-top, decadent, magical hotel experience ever – it takes your breath away. You walk in and the lobby is just huge sprawling ceilings. Everything you can see is gold-leafed and there’s these giant maximalist murals on the wall that kind of tell the story of Florida in the most beautiful flora and fauna kind of way, and then you walk outside past the pool and the bar and there’s a giant wooly mammoth [skeleton] covered in gold and encased in hurricane glass. There’s a lounge that looks like straight up Tony Duquette, with leopard on leopard maximalism.

Who are your Enduring influences?

Peewee Herman and Ernest Hemingway.

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Creative Director Mat Sanders, seen on set of Working the Room.

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