If you’ve ogled beautiful wallpaper or a sumptuous rug in the pages of a interiors magazine lately, you probably have Stacy Waggoner to thank. Waggoner and her business partner, Kate Reynolds, are owners of Studio Four NYC, a showroom full of irresistible, custom textiles, rugs, and wallpaper as well as the studio’s in-house line of custom textiles. The showroom celebrates exquisite craftsmanship and materials, so it’s no surprise that Waggoner’s Manhattan apartment is rich with beautiful pieces. Here, the design lover shares glimpses of her space and the stories that go with it.
Let’s start at the beginning: Where did you get your love of design?
Definitely from my mother, who was an artist and an amazing goldsmith. She created beautiful intricate jewelry, including woven gold that she made by hand. She would literally melt gold coin, draw it into wire, fuse it into rings, and weave it. Professionally, my dad was a banker, but he was really a Renaissance man; he loved and appreciated art and antiques, loved to travel, and had a great eye. One sister is an interior designer, and another is a painter, who also made amazing jewelry with my mom. And I have a brother who isn’t in an artistic field, but he has a great eye, too. I think we were born with artistic bents that were well nurtured. My parents loved collecting—furniture, objects, art, jewelry—and they passed that on to all four of their children.
Tell us how you began your career in the world of design.
I studied art history (at SMU in Dallas) and had summer jobs with interior designers. After school, I traveled around the world and ended up back in Dallas, where I went to work for David Sutherland, who had—and still has—a great showroom. I fell in love with the showroom side of the business and the opportunity to work with a lot of really great designers.
How did you end up in New York?
I grew up in Texas but always wanted to live in New York. Many of the lines I represented in Dallas were based here, so it was an easy jump. I came here with the idea that I might be here two years or the rest of my life, and now I generally say I am here as long as it continues to make sense, which it certainly continues to do.
And in 2009, you opened Studio Four NYC. What does the name mean?
Well, when my business partner, Kate Reynolds, and I were leaving our old company and planning on starting a new one, there were originally four partners. We had just registered the name with the state of New York when the other two dropped out. Kate and I liked the name, so we stuck with it. (Besides, Waggoner Reynolds sounds like a law firm.) We used to try to come up with a better story, but really, that’s how it happened.
What’s best about your work?
I love what we do. We work with a really great number of creative people all around the world. Some are old hands that have successful established wallpaper and fabric lines, and some are brand new to the market and just learning how it all works. The collaborative aspect keeps everything fun and fresh. We make new rugs using traditional techniques—handweaving, handknotting, handtufting—with artisans from all over that support these time-honored crafts. And we have a great team at Studio Four who constantly amaze me with their enthusiasm and ability. I personally only work with a handful of interior designers myself these days, but they are geniuses and I love working with them.
And your own home is a beautiful tribute to design and handcrafted goodness. How do you live with art and antiques?
Though both of my parents are gone now, I am fortunate to be able to live with so much of the furniture and art and objects I grew up with. My siblings and I actually had a great time dividing it all up, and we are aware how rare that is. I love seeing my parents’ things in all of my siblings’ homes and in mine; it’s like encountering an old friend every time. My parents could tell us the story behind almost every piece of furniture and art in their house: where they found it, why they bought it, the relationship with the artist. It all became family lore.
Tell us one such story.
They bought a table in Mexico when my brother and I were toddlers, and they had left us for a well-deserved break. The table was the same price as a night at their hotel, and they loved it so much they bought it and drove home a day early. That table was in the den in every house they had, and when we were dividing things, I chose it and took it to our family home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s perfect there.
What was your first antique or art purchase? Tell us how it became yours.
I have always picked up little drawings or watercolors in my travels, but my first Painting with a capital P was by Olga Antonova, and I purchased it a few years back from Selby Fleetwood Gallery in Santa Fe. Olga was born in Volgograd, Russia, and now lives in Massachusetts and has painted a whole series of gorgeously detailed teacups. Mine is a little canvas—maybe 12 inches by 12 inches—and I spied it immediately as I walked into thegallery one snowy afternoon; the painting has this almost luminescent glow. I wasn’t even intending to buy a painting, but by the third time I went to visit it over that weekend, I knew it would kill me if it went home with someone else, so I really had to buy it. This is where I differ from my parents and some of my siblings: My dad would stalk a piece of art for months and finally make a deal with the gallery. He loved the chase. When I find something I love, I just know it and have to have it. (I’m still regretting a galuchat box I let get away 20 years ago in the Paris flea market). In a way, it’s a little like how we operate at Studio Four: We are actually never looking for new lines because we are pretty full, but Kate and I immediately know if we both like a line, and if we do, we’ll figure out a way to make room for it here.
Before you go, tell us your best design secret or trick?
I love layers of colors and patterns and styles. I think if you keep pieces you love—for their lines or their stories or because they appeal to you or make you smile—then the pieces are all connected to you and somehow that makes them work together. I’ve got a fairly quirky collection of old and new, gathered over my own lifetime of travel, and they are now mixed with the quirky collections of my parents’ gathered over their shared lifetime of travel, with a few pieces from my grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers’ homes, all mixed in with cool new fabrics, vintage Moroccan rugs, and a pretty wide assortment of objects. It’s weird and might not work for anyone else, but it feels like home to me.
We asked Stacy to choose the antique and vintage pieces from our site that she’d put in her own home. Here are her picks:
“I love these Spratling salt cellars–my mom had a great collection of Mexican silver and I have some gorgeous pieces of both jewelry and tabletop items from Spratling and other Taxco artists.”
“Georg Jensen ice tongs because they are such a classic.”
“These oval amethyst beads–amethyst is one of my favorite stones and these are such an amazing shape.”
“I love this chic French drinks cart and the little tripod table is a perfect little cocktail table.”
“Because I love gorgeous little objects, these Galle and LCTiffany glass pieces–and the spyglass has such an amazing woven texture–all three of these look like they would feel so good in your hand.”
“I am a long term textile junkie–this Italian cut velvet panel with Syrian design is beautiful and I adore the uneven stripes and the colors in the Anatolian rug.”
Photography by: Peter Margonelli