The Design of Seduction
From Paris to Shanghai to New York, Megan Grehl’s interior architectures are grounded in sculptural gestures, unexpected proportions and layered textures that seduce the mind, body and spirit.
By: Kevin Daniel Dwyer
Four years ago, Megan Grehl was ready to break away from working under established interior design firms and decided to explore and embrace her own style by starting her own practice. Since the eponymous company’s founding in 2014, Megan Grehl has completed projects all over the world. Today, Megan Grehl is an international design collective specializing both in architectural interior and product design, with experience ranging from boutique commercial spaces to bespoke residences with completed projects in Shanghai, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and San Francisco.
Grehl’s husband, Côme Ménage, has his own architectural practice READ (Re Architecture Design), and the couple has collaborated on several projects together. Despite the challenges, the couple feels their strong bond encourages their best work. “We’re aware of each other’s triumphs and struggles. If we have to stay at the office and work late, we sympathize with each other. Design is all about teamwork, and who better to have on your team than your partner?”
Every designer gets their inspiration from somewhere, and Megan reveals she is inspired by 1920-1970s sculpture, architecture and film. "Growing up in China, only old films and pre-communist art were available, so I got an original version of the classics. My father worked in production of industrial materials and my mother was a watercolor artist—they influenced the way I perceive color and materials.”
Megan Grehl’s projects are designed through a holistic approach, with both its architecture and interior design teams working closely together. The teams strive to find the perfect synergy between interior and exterior through the discovery of a unified language for each project. Their practice is grounded in sculptural gestures, unexpected proportions and layered textures.
Megan and Côme echoed these notions in their home, a brownstone in Bedford-Stuyvesant. With the recent birth of their son, the couple needed to redesign their home to be baby friendly, while still honoring the brownstone’s original ornate architecture, as well as their love for modern design. The layered result of these dichotomies is a welcoming family home that perfectly marries the old with the new, expected with the unexpected. “We like to challenge what people normally see as ‘acceptable’ objects within a home. Why not use a vintage surgical light as your kitchen centerpiece? The allure is all about the unexpected,” Grehl notes.
More recently, Grehl and Ménage completed a 2,400 square foot penthouse renovation in New York’s Union Square, offering an incredible blank canvas for a vernal milestone—a young couple’s first shared home. For the Stanford graduates with an international background and roots in the Bay Area, Grehl created an environment full of cultural sophistication, inspired by their divergent tastes in aesthetics and style and infused with bold furniture accents. Curated contemporary artwork embodies the couple’s mutual love for art, design and technology.
Grehl turned the living room and dining area, endowed with expansive views of lower Manhattan and abundant natural light, into a bright and airy space perfect for the couple’s work and social gatherings. The juxtaposition of plush upholstery and curved silhouettes against the concrete jungle just outside the walls brings a dynamic, yet welcoming, balance to the home.
For this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, Megan Grehl was invited by Dutch design firm Moooi to envision a residential space around their products, “Moooi Through the Eyes of Megan Grehl.” Grehl collaborated closely with Marcel Wanders and the Moooi team to create an exemplary, first-of-its-kind presentation. The goal: to evoke qualities of comfort and familiarity, while maintaining the sophisticated and whimsical nature for which Moooi is known and loved.
To create a sense of enclosure and intimacy, Grehl developed an isolated volume that is separate, to truly evoke a multi-dimensional residence. The layout consists of a series of six rooms—a dining room, a boudoir, a bedroom, an indoor and outdoor living space and an attic. A system of architectural portals directs the gaze through focused and structured vignettes, inspiring a sense of discovery and intrigue for what resides in the next room. Conjugating multiple layers of atmosphere, tactility and textures invokes the complexity of “home.” Grehl’s team also designed a series of custom rugs for each room. The graphic motif for the rug designs was inspired by Brutalist abstract forms, including those of Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida. Each rendition is composed of multiple graphic layers that create the illusion of depth and dimension, transforming the rug into a three-dimensional accessory.
Following such a prolific creative chapter, what’s next for Megan Grehl? The team is expanding to the West Coast and into hospitality with a recently completed townhouse in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset, a 5,000 square foot villa in Los Angeles and a wine bar for a Parisian hotel group in New York City. Grehl notes that design is not limited by location, but that its creation should always question its context and of course, “seduce the mind, body and spirit.” G
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