As the precocious youngest of six children, interior designer Shawn Henderson's early decorating predilections were routinely indulged. He frequently rearranged of the family's living room furniture in their busy upstate New York house. Summers spent camping deep in the Adirondacks instilled a lifelong appreciation for the strength of natural materials. After earning a BFA in Interior Design, he worked for two of his heroes, Birch Coffey and Thad Hayes. In 2003, Henderson struck out on his own, consistently creating sophisticated, nuanced interiors (and furniture) based on strong lines, bold shapes, and rich textures.
This project began when former clients of yours bought the apartment next door to theirs and found themselves with 4,500 square feet of combined space. What was their mandate and how collaborative was the process?
The client wanted a clean, modern space with a clear separation of public and private spaces. They entertain often and they have a large extended family, so it was important that there be enough space to accommodate this need. The process was extremely collaborative between the architect, John Butterworth, the client, and myself. That said, the client fully respected a professional point of view and embraced our creativity.
What challenges did a space of this size present?
This a postwar building that had seemingly uninteresting details. We did our best to obscure that fact with interesting choices in materials and finishes, as well as an eclectic, layered mix of furnishings.
Your clients' art collection is extensive. When conceptualizing the interiors, what was your inspiration for placement?
To be honest, I had nothing to do with the art hanging except for the large map in the entry gallery. That was planned and engineered from the very beginning of the project. Their collection has grown ever since these photos were taken and often pieces are switched out.
Several pieces of furniture are custom made for the space. Did any of the designs influence your Amalgam collection of furnishings?
Most of these furnishings were designed specifically for this client. What I do try to keep consistent in all of my furniture is the right sense of scale and proportion.
You grew up in upstate New York and spent summers in the Adirondacks. Your work has a strong masculine sensibility. Talk about those early influences.
New York state has such a wide range of natural beauty. Being surrounded by the Adirondacks for a large part of my life has really made me appreciate the natural beauty in things. I love honest and pure materials and ordinary things used in unusual ways. I'm also drawn to clean lines, which can often be interpreted as "masculine."
In 2006, eBay recruited you to serve as its first Home and Garden Design Director. How did that experience influence how your source today and would you share a few of your favorite eBay shops?
Working as eBay's design director/spokesperson was an incredible experience. It's really amazing to see how, over the course of the past eight years, virtually all of the sourcing we do is online. Of course, this was something that I did often shopping on eBay.
One of my favorite shops that was on eBay was called Metro Retro, based in Texas. They are now on 1stDibs!
What projects are you currently working on? Can we expect more custom furnishings or perhaps a fabric or wallpaper collection?
Right now, I just finished a pied-à-terre in Paris and I'm currently working on a loft in TriBeCa, a few townhouses in the Village, and the lobby of The Breevort East, and The Sheffield [all in NYC]. It's a great mix of projects. I definitely have plans to expand the Amalgam collection and I want to do a line of classic furniture as well. I'd love to get into textiles as well—wallpaper, fabric, and rugs would be amazing!