Dane Robert Wilson is passionate about designing innovative and edited interiors tailored to his clients’ desires…with just a dash of his own desire mixed in. A California native, he divides his time between San Francisco and Forestville, and finds that inspiration from both urban sophistication and calm nature balance his work to timeless effect.
What is your background? How did you get into design? Have you always been aesthetically minded?
I’ve always been a “do-er” – I was the hands-on kid who created it, built it, painted it, sewed it – I could always make something out of nothing. My mother said I was born with an “eye”; it has been honed with time and continues to evolve. I received my degree in Interior Design from the Academy of Art University, and landed a retail store designer position in Tiburon…which led to a restaurant design, featured in Gourmet Magazine Review and Chronicle Review (lauding its stylish dress-up-or-down, fresh, unpretentious interior). More retail design jobs followed, taking me from San Francisco to La Jolla to Del Mar – when residential design called, I worked for for Nestor Matthews for a number of years, focusing on high end projects with great layers of detail. Heading out on my own again with a Nantucket client, as we embarked on their 1794 Vermont Farmhouse project. Always a pleasure working on a good old house! Wearing the design hat often opens new doors of creative expression: Vintage Dealer, Styling, Staging and Landscape Design have found their way into the mix, along with painting for pleasure.
How do you achieve a polished look without it seeming too precious and austere?
Simply said: good layered lighting, and thoughtful placement of furniture and objects. I have always made sure that clients’ spaces are a reflection of them…through my eye.
If someone is working within a strict budget, where do you encourage them to spend and save?
This all depends on what the project is. I’m really a high/low designer – as in life, one picks their moments for a splurge, and sometimes I encourage a client to go ‘high’ on an important piece; on other items we can spend very little and still make great impact.
For example, in a recent project the splurge was a reclaimed walnut floor with 11-inch wide planks, that really defined the architecture and age of the room. Those gorgeous walnut planks were complemented by a sofa from CB2 – a perfect shape, lovely color, comfortable seat, and excellent value. The splurge always goes to the piece of the design puzzle that offers the greatest impact.
Do you have a signature and does it find its way into every project?
I’m not sure there is a signature object so much as an attitude, a feeling. Each unique project tends toward sophistication, with the right amount of comfort and casualness. Every space is inviting.
Is there a current trend that you think will endure?
Well, no matter how timeless something might be, freshness comes from change. Hanging art ‘Salon-Style’ is not a new trend and has been making its way on the pages for a while now, and I think it has – and will – endure.
Do you tend to have tried-and-true favorites that find themselves into every job?
A less glamorous piece I use often that controls light and mood in a room for about $8.00 …almost any space can have a table lamp dimmer from IKEA!
What is your favorite recent project and what made it special?
After moving from my longtime home to a much smaller space, I am embarking on a new frontier! This fresh beginning, surrounded with things that I love is an exciting personal, and professional challenge. Using the cherished pieces I have collected over the years (and – of course some new pieces will inevitably find their way in!) to design my new home – it is a special project; the curation of a new show.
Do you have a fantasy project?
Having created some terrific Airbnb properties, and experiences, that people love, I’d be thrilled to design a smaller hotel in a great location where Interior and Garden are strongly related.
What are your favorite pieces on Previously Owned by a Gay Man and how would you use them in a project?
I might use this on a kitchen counter as an ambient mood light when I want the overhead task light taken down a notch or turned off.
I would use this screen to delineate space between a living area and a sleeping area in a single room living situation
This chairs delicate lines deserve to breathe and be seen not just as a chair but as a beautiful shape in wood. Because of its transitional quality it could be in a room with some really clean contemporary upholstery and some antiques.
This terrific shape can be paired with contemporary and traditional with ease.