Kelly Wearstler: THE EVOLUTION OF AN ICON
Lens Magazine|April 2021
When I first met Kelly Wearstler in the early 1990s, she was an aspiring interior designer who shared a small apartment with a roommate across from a sporting goods store in the heart of LA. But the South Carolina transplant had a big dream and the talent to achieve it. I have had the good fortune to be part of that journey camera-in-hand.
MARK EDWARD HARRIS

Kelly's first clients were apartments, condominiums, and homeowners seeking to put some flair into their living spaces. I would document the results on film loaded into Nikon bodies, usually with a Nikkor 28mm locked down on a tripod with a cable release. When the project was completed, we would often do a carefully crafted environmental portrait of Kelly in her creation.

It was obvious early on that Kelly's genius went far beyond an innate sense of style. Her ability to instantly match seemingly unrelatable furniture, clothing, and art pieces across every period of the design, fashion, and art worlds is almost unfathomable.

Those sensibilities combined with graphic design studies at the Massachusetts College of Art and internships with Cambridge Seven Associates and Milton Glaser (who created the iconic I Love NY logo with a heart replacing the word love) gave Kelly a solid platform to launch her career. She opened her own design firm, Kelly Wearstler Interior Design (KWID), in 1995. Throughout her career, Kelly has attended art auctions and trolled the flea markets and antique stores of the world, collecting pieces that spoke to her. They might end up in her storage facility for years until the proper match or mismatch in one of her designs would call for them to be dusted off and staged en scene.

The Big Break

If I could point to a big break that put Kelly on the global stage, it would be converting a retirement home, The Beverly Carlton, into a boutique hotel.

It was a young real estate entrepreneur Brad Korzen's first foray into the hotel business.

He was impressed with the job she did on his home and several apartment complexes and rolled the dice that she could rescue the Beverly Carlton, which had seen much better days. The history of the complex was unique, though including being a hotel and residence to a number of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s.

Kelly and her team researched the original design elements of the property by Alvin Lustig, including analyzing photographs of it taken by famed architectural photographer Julius Shulman as inspiration for the remodel. Coincidently, my interview with Shulman was used in the Balcony Press book Photographing Architecture and Interiors, published in 2000.

Nobody could interpret architecture with a camera better than Shulman, who was the go-to photographer in that genre in mid-century America.

Before the Beverly Carlton was overhauled, Kelly asked me to shoot detailed shots of the old place she later used in many rooms as wall art as a homage to the past.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM LENS MAGAZINEView All

THE FORM OF LIGHT - SASHA SOBOL

Nudity can be many things. For me, it is vulnerability, strength, gracefulness, and freedom. Most of all, it is human.

1 min read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

THE OTHER SIDE OF SAN DIEGO MIGUEL 'CHROMATIC' VALENCIA

"THIS PROJECT WAS PHOTOGRAPHED TO PRESERVE THE CULTURE AND COMMUNITY. IT COULD ONLY BE CREATED WITH FULL COLLABORATION WITH THESE PEOPLE, AND I THANK THEM FOR TRUSTING ME. THE PROJECT WAS CREATED WITH THE JOINED MISSION OF NOT LETTING THE COMMUNITY BE FORGOTTEN AND PRESENTING THESE NEIGHBORHOODS' REAL, AUTHENTIC LIVES." - MIGUEL 'CHROMATIC' VALENCIA

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

The Memory Floor - GEOFFREY ANSEL AGRONS

After over four years in the San Francisco Bay area, I returned to the east coast in 2015 to assist in the care of my aging parents. Unfortunately, their physical and cognitive decline proceeded to advance inexorably. Separately, each spent the end of their lives in facilities dedicated to caring for residents with dementia, most commonly the Alzheimer's type. They received excellent support from a dedicated and compassionate staff, and each, in turn, entered hospice until their death.

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

THE DISAPPEARING SOUL: SELF PORTRAITS IN THE TIME OF COVID

I was fifty years old when I first exhibited a self-portrait. The image was part of a black and white portrait series of breast cancer survivors inspired by my own battle with the disease and the resulting mastectomy.

4 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

MOTHER The Wind Is Blowing

Mother is a documentary that chronicles the final six years of my mother's life, her struggle with hoarding, and my grieving process. " - Leon Syfrit

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

GHAZAL ABBASI: DANCE OF SORROW

I'm an enthusiastic fine art and conceptual photographer. All images were taken in Shiraz, Iran.

5 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

BARBARA PEACOCK: AMERICAN BEDROOM Reflections on the Nature of Life

Cai and Claire - Ages 28 & 29. Bliss, Idaho 'Dismantle and rebuild (the urge to destroy is a creative urge, a natural reset) build a home in you, a home in me. Together home is always growing, always being redefined-dismantled, and rebuilt. We see each other; we make space for each other. And here, we are always safe inside.'

4 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

NILANGANA BANERJEE: 2 series The 'Selves' | The Lullaby

The series Selves aims to artistically represent the psychological conflicts we face when we weigh ourselves based on socially determined of what is ideal and where we stand with the distorted and one-size that fits all defined.

6 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

An Exclusive Interview With Jennifer Carlos

2SERIES: DAUGHTERS OF GOD, REFUGEES CAMP IN THE PARIS AREA

10+ mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

DONNA BASSIN MY OWN WITNESS: RUPTURE AND REPAIR

"We can't control what events happen to us, but we can control how we choose to meet them. More than twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with Scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease, and given five years to live. Instead of letting the darkness of that diagnosis and its possible outcome rule me, I chose to focus on the present moment.

7 mins read
Lens Magazine
March 2022
RELATED STORIES

The Kelly Clarkson Show

It's 10AM on a Wednesday in April, and TV GUIDE MAGAZINE is among the ranks of buzzing audience members filing into Universal Studios Lot, Stage 1, in Hollywood. (Dress code: "nice casual trendy bright colors.") Crew members hustle as they prep to tape two episodes of Kelly Clarkson's weekday talker.

1 min read
TV Guide Magazine
May 09 - 22, 2022

Zoned for relaxation

Designated activity areas and low-maintenance finishes turn a neglected backyard into an inviting destination

3 mins read
This Old House Magazine
Summer 2022

SNOOP SNUBS CUDDLY KELLY

Snoop Dogg and Clarkson co-host “American Song Contest”

1 min read
National Enquirer
May 09, 2022

Cottage Life on the Lake

A dreamy waterside cottage is full of clean lines, bright colors and natural materials that add interest ... without chaos.

7 mins read
Cottages and Bungalows
June - July 2022

KELLY SNUBBED BY SNOOP!

She's no Martha Stewart! On camera, America's Song Contest cohosts Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg have amazing chemistry.

1 min read
Star
May 09, 2022

KELLY'S FRESH START

Call her Kelly Brianne!

1 min read
Star
April 18, 2022

Four SCORE

Annika Noelle Reflects On How Her Life Has Changed Since Joining B&B In 2018.

6 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
May 02, 2022

RARE OVERHAUL OF POWERFUL US NUCLEAR TEST REACTOR COMPLETED

Scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory have completed a rare overhaul of one of the world’s most powerful nuclear test reactors and normal operations are expected to resume later this spring, officials said this week.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
April 22, 2022

Elements of Style

Renowned interior designer Kelly Wearstler finds inspiration in nature.

3 mins read
ELLE
April 2022

KELLY: MY SIDE OF STORY

The last few years have been a roller coaster - or, as she's put it, "a dumpster fire” – for Kelly Clarkson. In June 2020, the singer filed to divorce her husband of nearly seven years, Brandon Blackstock.

6 mins read
Life & Style US
April 11, 2022