After playing the piano for 15 years, Benjamin Vandiver chose a new form of artistic expression when he founded his interior design and lifestyle firm in April of 2012. Already working with celebrities -- such as Nashville actress Connie Britton -- as well as musicians from Kings of Leon, this young designer is expanding his work from Nashville to New York, Los Angeles, and soon, beyond.
Not to be categorized, Vandiver prefers to adapt to each of his client's individualities to ensure each project is the best possible reflection of their tastes and needs. "My aesthetic changes with every project I accept -- I thrive from working on a challenge and adapting to what makes someone feel comfortable," the designer tells us. What doesn't change between each of his projects is his own sense of minimalism, luxury, and expert over-editing. Simply put, "I create homes for people to be safe and comfortable in."
Drawing inspiration and reference from the great designers of the past. "I'm currently infatuated with Billy Baldwin. I've been collecting his first edition books and reading them for hours every Sunday morning," Vandiver shares. "I'm really not sure what it is, maybe it's his stories of Jackie Kennedy, but something feels familiar about Mr. Baldwin's work -- I can only hope in 50 years someone will say the same about me."
The designer's stylish, layered approach to comfortable, family-friendly décor. A mix of masculine and feminine design styles and furniture, along with interesting, sculptural art and accessories, make for expertly-edited, dynamic spaces that are both sophisticated and homey, chic yet comfortable.
Though décor may be the designer's first love, maintaining lasting relationships with his clients is just as important. "Since many of my clients end up becoming my close friends, I find a lot of free time is spent with them -- either having leisurely dinners or being Uncle Ben to their kids," Vandiver shares. "A few weeks ago, I was hosting a bake sale off of Sunset Boulevard with a client's kid -- we made $3."
Aside from juggling projects in Manhattan and Los Angeles, the designer is also finishing the Nashville home of actress Hayden Panettiere and her fiancé, heavyweight champion Wladamir Klitschko. "Selecting upholstery pieces for Hayden at 5'1" and Wlad at 6'6" has provided me a design workout, without doubt," Vandiver shares. "I finally said, 'You both get your own sofas!'"
These days, the designer is seeking inspiration from a rather unusual source: scent. "One of the first questions I ask a potential client is what smells right to them. I'm trying to see what they smell like," Vandiver says. "How they react to fragrance allows my intuition to begin the design process far before we choose paints or sofas." In fact, the designer notes master perfumers like Frédéric Malle and Carlos Huber are just as inspiring to him as painters or other designers. "I'm waiting until someone says my favorite, Fracas by Robert Piguet, is their signature smell -- I might cry," the designer adds.
|Women in Art: Figures of Influence by Reed Krakoff, $60, Amazon||Merida Candle, $90, Arquiste||Arrow Fixture, from $2950, Apparatus Studio|
|Capital, 2012 print by Gary Hume, $899, Artspace||Dubois Raffia Cocktail Table, price upon request, Bernhardt||T Chair, from $1375, Nickey-Kehoe|