Meet Ethan Allen Design Star Paul Shaw
To say that Design Star Paul Shaw is colorful is an understatement. Paul is, first and foremost, an artist. He sketches and paints and finds inspiration everywhere—from the foothills of Appalachia, where he grew up; to France, Italy, and Ecuador, where he had the good fortune to study art. We’re fortunate to call him one of our own; Paul has been with Ethan Allen for six years. He currently manages our Metairie Design Center in greater New Orleans, where we caught up with him for our latest interior designer interview.
Paul has come a long way since “roaming Appalachia” as a child, “anchoring tents amid the pines and seasonally taking up residence in old farmhouses.” On the bright side, he says: “My childhood instilled in me a deep reverence for nature and our interdependence. It also fostered an imagination that took me all the way to the Sorbonne, where I studied for seven months.”
Having called New Orleans home (off and on) for many years, Paul describes the city’s allure with affection: “She’s a charmer, offering up Creole cuisine, violet sunsets, and music that floats across the Mississippi,” he says. He says he feels comfortable there “because the culture is robust and provides artists like me an amp to plug into.”
Along with degrees in art history and French, Paul has ten years’ experience in the design industry, including stints in visual merchandising and floral design. He really feels as though he’s found his calling. “Whether by art or design, I believe beauty is inherent in everything and my vocation exists to reveal it,” he says. “We work every day to build the life of our dreams and sometimes we are surprised to discover we are living it!”
Paul loves to wax lyrical about his life, his work, and the importance of art in the home—and we’re happy to quote him on it!
What’s the one thing you’d like our readers to know about you?
Design should be felt as much as it is seen. My aim is to create spaces that tangibly impact the way you feel. If you want to feel vibrant, we will create energy with color and movement. Conversely, tonal solids and subtle textures inspire calm.
What is your favorite design tip?
Scale is queen! The right proportion will make or break a design. I often demonstrate this with a quick sketch. It provides a instant lesson on maximizing space, creating pleasing proportions, and investing both time and money wisely.
What Ethan Allen piece is your favorite?
The Nikita console. She has universal appeal. Dark, lacquered, and dramatic, she is always ready to anchor a large canvas or add a graceful, architectural curve to a focal wall. She and I are definitely in a long-term relationship.
Complete this sentence: Every room needs …
Art. It is completely subjective and personal. It’s a reflection of our lives and a unique way to express our point of view. When I talk to clients about art, I do so respectfully. As an artist myself, I strive to impart the many ways in which art can impact a space—from creating balance to enhancing mood.
If you could do any project, anywhere, on any budget, what would it be?
I would focus my attention on rooftops! Living in an urban environment, I am always finding ways to bring the outside in. I would love to be involved in a city project to build rooftop gardens and outdoor living spaces. Pergolas, trailing vines, Moroccan poufs, and yes, chandeliers!
Tell us about your favorite Ethan Allen project.
I have a favorite scenario in which a client says to me: “Show us what you would do.” When I get the opportunity to answer that call, I pour my heart and soul into it. I strive for design that will endure and energetically suit the people who live with it. So far, no disappointments.
Find more of Paul Shaw’s work on Instagram @paul.shaw_ea, and on Houzz, https://www.houzz.com/pro/paulshawart/paul-shaw-ethan-allen-nola. To see more beautiful rooms by designers like Paul, subscribe to The Art of Making Home.