Designers You Should Know: MAS Design


For the inaugural edition of our Designers You Should Know series, we wanted to showcase a design house we have had the pleasure of working with on a number of projects. Partners Carol & Dawn of MAS Design have cultivated a unique aesthetic and a successful brand in the Bay Area. 

MAS Design partners, Dawn Carlson & Carol Perry.
Photo by Jen Siska

WHO/WHAT IS MAS DESIGN?

MAS (Mood and Space) Design is an interior design firm in the Bay Area, California.
What we try to create in our work is a mashup of space and style. We believe that your space should be an expression of who you are, and our focus is creating sophisticated spaces that allow our clients to live, relax and thrive. What we design are thoughtful compositions that are successful because they are based intrinsically on who our clients are. Coming from the perspective that tasteful design does not have to be boring, our work is design-forward and allows one to experience it in a visceral and even emotional way.
We work closely with and value our amazing team of experts, and view our work as a collaboration between the client, ourselves, our vendors, fabricators and artists.

FAVORITE TREND RIGHT NOW?

We try not to get too caught up in trends, but we are loving the tendency toward celebrating natural/sculptural form.  We think the sculptural elements of a home (or even just an element in a home) are often the most compelling, and we're enjoying current trends toward keeping some elements simple in order to highlight a more interesting component of the design.  For example, all white kitchens that seem to be on every page the design magazine may not be thrilling to some in terms of originality, but we do enjoy how the simplicity allows architectural details and the more important design elements to be showcased.  We love a raw wood beam juxtaposed against something visually clean - the simplicity works to highlight the natural material.
In our minds, gone are the days of the red accent wall, for example. Let's simplify the palette so as not to distract from the bones of the project: the exposed beams, art, or other interesting details. This way, when you choose a design element such as lighting, it is chosen to complement the spirit of the space and it's users, versus the color of the drywall.

Light & Airy MAS designed kitchen in Campbell, California. Photo: Helynn Ospina.

LEAST FAVORITE TREND RIGHT NOW?

Trends.  ;)  We think it is a shame when a client comes to us wanting to cling to one specific aesthetic.  Mid-century modern is a classic design period, we get it.  There are so many gems to come out of that period.  But when design becomes about emanating one particular style, there is a risk of losing the freedom of artistic expression in it.  Yes, let's dig until we find that Franco Albini lounge chair in mint condition, there is something amazing about the process as well as the form, and the minimalism.  But let's also talk about who our client is, what they want to say, and more times than not, a person is much more eclectic than one specific style.  The process of curation and personalization versus stamping out an aesthetic is what gets us excited...

HOW DO YOU APPROACH DESIGNING A SPACE?

Hmmm...we approach our designs quite differently.  Dawn tends to be highly instinctual.  Carol is more systematic.  It's interesting that we tend to land in more or less the same space, albeit with different approaches.
It is really about creating a space where our client can access their highest selves.  A space should be thoughtful, restful, and inspiring.  High style and comfort are not mutually exclusive.  There should always be some drama!

Sonoma bedroom design by MAS, custom platform bed by Hammers & Heels.
Photo: Helynn Ospina

WHAT IS THE ANCHOR PIECE IN YOUR DESIGN?
(furniture, lighting, rug, art,etc)

I would say the views are our top priority.  It is human nature to find the best perch to observe one's surroundings from.  Orienting the floorplan and circulation to maximize the surroundings (maybe it's not a view, maybe it is an interesting architectural detail) is number one.  
In terms of design elements, we tend to start with some dramatic lighting.  Lighting is the jewelry of the room, and brings in a luxurious or sculptural layer.  Always have fun with lighting.  If not in one dramatic statement piece, then with the soothing comfort of a layered lighting plan.

FAVORITE MATERIAL TO WORK WITH?

So many choices!  I'm not sure it's really about the material for us, but more about how it is showcased.  We love a sharp juxtaposition. So if we're doing a 30 foot stack stone, organic wall, we'll likely place something uber luxurious and different next to it.  This way both the approachable and natural as well as the chic and refined are celebrated.  The contrast begs the viewer to enjoy each distinction.

FAVORITE COLORS THIS SEASON?

It's more about the quality of a textile than the color.  The hand comes first.  We love texture and drama!  A luxurious fabric may not be "fancy", per se.  It may be different, odd, or just simply cozy.  We tend to stick to earthy colors, or colors that are a bit subdued.  Again, sanctuary is typically key in our work.  Aside, of course, from the occasional burst of fun.

MAS vintage dining room remodel in a Piedmont family home. Photo: Helynn Ospina

FAVORITE FABRIC?

Loving a chunky knit or felt, just for the sheer ridiculousness of it.  
Or an unexpected combination.  We're creating a fabric wall for a client that needs to balance her classic tastes with her approachable ones.  We're using a super fun woven burlap with a slight metallic sheen.  If it makes you go, "huh?"  then, "ooh!", we've done our jobs.

FAVORITE WOOD?

Haha, you said wood.  We're not incredibly mature here at MAS Design, but we're hoping it's part of our charm..?

We are obsessed with the platform bed we partnered with H&H on.  The simplicity of the design juxtaposed with the impeccable craftmanship gives us...well... design wood.  

FAVORITE DESIGN SOURCE FOR IDEAS?

Magazines are always a favorite.  Something about manually leafing through a carefully curated design catalogue is an unmatched experience.  We hope the interwebs don't kill print completely.

FAVORITE PROJECT?

Each project is different and unique.  We feel super lucky to get to work in all different styles, from classic to modern, to bohemian, to luxe.  We are currently working on a beautiful classic home in Oakland where we've been able to balance the historic details of the home with the chic, updated perspective of our client.  Super fun.  And then in contrast we're working on an uber modern loft-style home in Sausalito, with incredible Bay Views.  Diversity of styles keeps us inspired.  We can't pick a favorite.  We love it all.

Simple & elegant Presidio Heights foyer by MAS Design. Photo: Helynn Ospina

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR AESTHETIC?
(mid century, traditional, eclectic, etc?)

Unlike a lot of designers, we don't have a signature look.  We truly enjoy the collaboration with our client and helping them express their own unique style, and style can't be contained.  The thread that is consistent throughout our work is drama, sophistication, approachability, and always a punch of the unexpected.

FAVORITE ARTIST?

That is impossible to say, there is just so much. We both love the sculpture of form, be it an actual sculpture or a piece of furniture.  Hanneke Beaumont is a contemporary Danish sculptor whose work we came across at the SF Antiques Fair this year.  Her figures are elegant and striking, without being aggressive.  We were just mesmerized by the balance in her work...

To check our more of MAS Design's beautiful design portfolio be sure to check out there website here. 


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