You might say Sara Story has taken the world by storm — or rather, by her globally inspired interior design. Since opening her namesake Manhattan firm in 2003, she has blossomed into a major mover, shaker and style setter. Elle Décor crowned the Texas-born designer as one of the “Top 10 to Watch” in 2011, and she has been a regular fixture in top publications like Architectural Digest, Interior Design and Luxe over the past few years. She is best known for her global flair, inspired by her international upbringing in Japan, Singapore and Houston, as well as her “extensive travels.” Her design aesthetic — crisp, elegant and comfortable — draws on a wide swath of influences, from contemporary art and fashion, and a rigorous lifestyle that includes playing on a championship elephant polo team.
We recently caught up with Story to ask her about her worldly take on style and home design.
Previews Inside Out What was the most inspiring place you traveled?
Sara Story I find Asia always inspiring, from its use of materials to its exquisite craftsmanship and beautiful culture. Copenhagen has been enormously inspiring as well. I love its sense of scale and proportion — so refined, timeless and always functional design.
Previews Inside Out How has your architectural background from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco help set the foundation for your designs?
Sara Story It is always key to have the technical background — studying the mechanics benefits the design process. It helps you think about design and functionality.
Previews Inside Out You are quite the versatile designer, applying the golden touch to everything from a Texas ranch to a Singapore penthouse. What design elements help to bring these different spaces together?
Sara Story I first take the architecture, landscape and location into consideration when designing a space. Different spaces ask for different materials and function. It is interesting to work in varied geographical locations, always taking into consideration the client’s needs and how the space is to be used.
Previews Inside Out We’re very intrigued by your creativity with wallpaper. How can wallpaper transform a room?
Sara Story Wallpaper can create fantastic energy, movement and texture into a space. I love papering ceilings, backs of bookshelves and a feature wall. It is interesting to use wallpaper in an unexpected way!
Previews Inside Out Who are your favorite architects or designers?
Sara Story I love Annabelle Selldorf. She is one of my favorite architects, as well as David Chipperfield, Renzo Piano and Tadao Ando.
Previews Inside Out How important is it to your clients to have a global perspective on design today, to be able to draw inspiration or style cues from other cultures or countries?
Sara Story It is great when your clients have a global perspective on design, but I am here to also challenge and expand their vision. Collaboration is always a very important part of the design process and helps me to continually push the envelope and evolve.
Previews Inside Out What inspired your latest collection of wallpaper?
Shelter Island, Interior, Home
Sara Story My travels around the world inspired my latest collection of wallpaper: Vienna, Bora Bora, Hana and Bandol.
Previews Inside Out Now for the fun part: we heard that you play on a championship elephant polo team that competes each year. Tell us more about this!
Sara Story Every year, my family and I embark to Thailand to play elephant polo. It is all good fun and raises money for elephant preservation. It is a cast of characters who love to have a good time and give back to the Thai community.
Previews Inside Out What does luxury mean to you?
Sara Story Luxury means spending time with people you love: your family and friends.
Previews Inside Out What is your favorite piece right now?
Sara Story It would be a vintage piece with regards to furniture — a Gio Ponti bar cabinet from the 1950s. For art, it would be a Neo Rauch painting I acquired last year. I am a big fan of his work.
Previews Inside Out How would you describe your personal design style?
Sara Story I strive to create timeless, elegant and approachable spaces.