Nina Magon is making waves this month at the 2021 Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach.
The Houston-based designer and founder of Nina Magon Studio (formerly Contour Interior Design)—you might have seen her work at Saks’s 51fifteen Cuisine or on NBC’s 2014 Dream Builders competition—was the lone Texan invited to showcase their style at this spring’s show house, where 20 of the the country’s top designers are invited three times a year to build out a space with the benefits going back to the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Clubs. The show is offered virtually and in-person through May 9.
Dubbed the Camera da Letto Della Contessa, or the Contessa’s Bedroom, Magon’s transformation of the home's secondary suite pulls from her love for European architecture and penchant for the glamorous, with a few mod moments mixed in. It also offers a sneak peek of her new lighting collection with Maxim Lighting and wall paper line with the Italian brand Wall and Deco.
And the world is responding. Elle Decor and Veranda have praised the room, and images of the oh, so pretty-in-pink boudoir are everywhere on the internet. We talked with Magon about what went into creating this Milanese-inspired masterpiece (in just about six weeks’ time, might we add), plus what the room means for her studio and for Houston.
What was it like getting to design for the Kips Bay Show House?
Super stressful. We had a very short time period. We have to design the room and then we also have to construct the room. So you can imagine, that's a lot of work. The majority of our room was custom-made. So we had custom panels installed; all the molding on the walls was created by us. We built them here in Houston, and then took them to Palm Beach [via U-Haul]. Then the rug was custom, the two half-moon mirrors were custom, the light fixture was custom, the wallpaper was custom, the bed was a custom. The only two pieces of furniture that we had in the whole space were in the closet and the Gubi chair. We really wanted the room to be special. So it was a lot of work. And there was a lot of stress is trying to make sure that the room was going to be done on time.
Where did your inspiration for the room come from?
It was based on an image that we have in a room by Horst P. Horst of a lady sitting with a palm leaf in her hand. We saw this image that really spoke to us. I said, "I like this image. It's like she's the Contessa and is in Italy—because that's what inspires us is European design—and she's waiting for her long-lost love. And what was does that room look like that she would be waiting in?" That's where the inspiration came from and that's where we said, "Everything has to be pink. Let's panel the the walls, so it has this Milanese-type feel." And we just wanted something that was very different from what everybody else is doing. Palm Beach style is a very floral, a little more traditional or transitional. I thought that at first, should we do something that looks like that? But then, I said, "No, we have to be true to ourselves and who we are." And then that's what we did.
Do you have a favorite element of the room?
I love all of it. But the bed is something very unique. I remember when I talked with Cosentino [a luxury stone, architecture, and design company] and I said, "I want to make a stone bed," they were laughing, like, "Are you gonna do this?" And then the chandelier was a custom. I have a new chandelier lighting collection coming out with Maxim Lighting. And so this was kind of like the introduction to my collection. That chandelier is stunning in person. And it was nice when we heard people walking past the room saying, "Wow, wow, wow." It makes you feel good as a designer that you've done something that is catching someone's attention.
It’s certainly catching people’s attention: The room has taken the internet by storm. What has the response been like for you?
It's been completely overwhelming, for sure. Nothing like what I thought. When you're a designer, and you're designing, you think your stuff is good, but you don't know because you're looking at it every day. You're the creation, you're the creator, and you're looking at it. So it's very hard to view it from an outsider's perspective, So it's been completely overwhelming. I mean, the amount of press that we've gotten from this room … and it's interesting to see it on social media. We just keep on seeing the images going left and right. The room has really become like a phenomenon. It's crazy. I never thought that would happen.
What do you think your native Houstonians will appreciate most about the room?
I don’t really think [the room] is a Houstonian thing. I think what really makes it special is that there are a few designers that are coming out of Houston who are putting Houston on the map as a place having designers, because you don't necessarily think of Houston as a fashion forward or design city. And so I think that just being from Houston and showing the U.S. that Houston can also be on the map.