March into Design Brilliance

Designed by Colette van den Thillart. Photographed by Alex Lukey. A private residence in Toronto's Rosedale neighborhood. The confidante at the center of the room and marble effect rug are both bespoke, designed by Colette. The wall-covering is by DeGounay and a decorative painter finished the mantelpiece to have a tortoiseshell effect.  

Bringing Out the Best In Interior Design

Craftspeople can be the key to your success in this industry!
“The best things in life are handmade.”
When working with a new client, many of us believe that making their space distinctive, one-of-a-kind, unrepeated are top priorities. We would be devastated to learn that one client visited another client’s home, only to discover that they had very similarly designed spaces—lamps, throws and all.

Design should depict an individual client’s personality, their passions, their style—not the same style across 15 different spaces.

And for Colette van den Thillart, DSA’s 2024 Design 360° Award recipient, as well as owner of Colette van den Thillart Interior Design in Toronto, a uniquely designed space can benefit greatly from handcrafted pieces, specially made and designed by craftspeople—many of whom we can find in our own communities.

“I’m such a believer is that we are only as good as our craftspeople, so get to know and support your local talents, craftspeople, potters, weavers, woodworkers, all of those,” van den Thillart says. “It’s easy for a client to look at a catalog and click buy, but I’m pro moving away from that approach. Sustainability is increasingly important.”

And with projects as far apart as Los Angeles, Toronto and London, van den Thillart has had the pleasure of working with some of the finest craftspeople around the world. So, she genuinely knows just how important they can be to helping interior designers create a space that’s unique to each and every client you work with.

Learn more below about van den Thillart, her work in our industry and why she believes travel is another important piece of the puzzle when working toward success in our industry.

Spring High Point Market

Are you planning to attend or have already secured your spot at the Spring High Point Market? Look out for the DSA team, as we'll be there and eager to connect with our members. If you're attending, drop us an email at for more information. Stay tuned on our Instagram for updates. We look forward to seeing you at the event!

Registration for the Spring High Point Market is open! Held April 13-17 in High Point, North Carolina, the spring event is sure to offer an abundance of events, tours, educational opportunities, dining and entertainment, networking and visits to more than 11.5 million square feet of showroom space.

To learn more, visit, and if you have questions, contact

Decor Tours 2024: Discover, Design, and Delight!

"The eye has to travel." - Diana Vreeland

At Decor Tours we take Diana Vreeland’s mantra that “the eye has to travel” to heart. So, we've been in our " design tourism atelier” putting the final touches to our 2024 tour schedule. We’ve researched all the options for each agenda that is engaging, surprising, and unique—the hallmarks of a Decor Tours experience. As many of you know, the thing that makes our tours stand out from the crowd is that our tours are not about being shuttled to typical tourist spots by a flag bearing guide. With our small groups of design aficionados, we set up a home base giving you the chance to mingle with the locals, see out-of-the-ordinary artisans and ateliers and get to know our surroundings more intimately. We take pride in offering our guests a one-of-a-kind, off-the-beaten-track immersive and inspirational experience.

Our purpose, with all our trips, is to share exceptional resources, but also to “fill-in-the-gaps” in terms of design information and education. A new feature for 2024 is that we’re offering CEU credits for select destinations, think of it as a study-abroad program specifically for designers!

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the forthcoming details or make a pre-reservation; send us an inquiry and we'll save you a seat.  PLUS, Get on the waitlist and get 10% OFF as a member of Designer Society of America!

We’re so excited about this year’s schedule. Paris & Provence are our always-and-forever destinations, but we had such a fantastic experience in Portugal (one of our last pre-Covid trips!) that we can’t wait to share it with another group.

Paris: September 4 – 10 

An insider’s look at the l’art de vivre. See more here.

Provence: September 14 – 21

Back to Provence because we love it so! See more here.

Portugal: October 16 – 23

Discover this country’s rich history of design. See more here.

Paris Deco Off: January 15-21, 2025

January in Paris? Perfect for DESIGN lovers. See more here.


A soaring 18-foot ceiling presented a particular challenge in bringing the volume of this Madeline Stuart-designed living room in Los Angeles down to a human scale. An equally expansive chandelier, 6 feet in diameter and hung low on a long chain, accomplishes the task by lowering the center of gravity. Photographed by Victoria Pearson for the book “Interior Design Master Class” for Rizzoli, New York.

Some Thoughts On… Trends

By Carl Dellatore

Every year, a list of forecasted interior design trends is released by any number of media outlets, and 2024 is no exception: “Architectural Digest” focused on jewel tones, metallic furniture and mixing periods. Pantone chose Peach Fuzz as its Color of the Year, with the tagline, “Bringing Kindness to Life.” That sounds like a great idea!

Not to be outdone, social media platforms have trends, too. TikTok is focused on Farmhouse Chic, Vintage Flair and Maximalism (I’ve had some thoughts about that!) “Bookshelf Wealth” is also all over the press.

They’re interesting to read about, but I question the importance of interior design trends. Trends are fleeting, like fashion. And at least from my perspective, Yves Saint Laurent had it right when he said, “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”

The allure of trends can be tempting, especially in our fast-paced digital age. Still, a compelling argument can be made for interior designers to resist the siren call of fleeting fads and anchor their practice in enduring design principles.

Trends are ephemeral, subject to the shifting winds of popular culture. What is in fashion today might be passé tomorrow. So it follows that interior designers who incorporate trends risk creating spaces that quickly become dated, leaving clients dissatisfied over time. 

Enduring design, on the other hand, transcends the temporal. By focusing on timeless principles, designers can create relevant and aesthetically pleasing spaces over the long haul.

From left to right: Designed by Frances Elkins, the drawing room at Casa Amesti. Designed by Jean-Michel Frank, Rockefeller's salon showing the Léger mural and Giacometti andirons. Designed by Elsie de Wolfe, photographed by Simon Watson for House & Garden magazine.

On the subject of the timeless tenets, Los Angeles-based designer Madeline Stuart told me, “It’s only through the study of history, art and the decorative arts that we can develop an understanding of how and why certain trends emerge and which ones will last. Interior design is a relatively new discipline, but numerous precedents inform what constitutes timeless yet distinctive design.

“Some of the great practitioners—Frances ElkinsJean-Michel FrankElsie de Wolfe, Albert Hadley and Sister Parish—had a fundamental understanding of classic forms and periods. Still, each was able to reinvent those components and establish a style uniquely their own. When you peruse the books celebrating these major talents, what distinguishes their interiors is a modernity that doesn’t seem to correspond to a specific time. They freely incorporated elements that reflected the era in which they worked while still managing to instill a timeless sensibility to the houses they decorated.

Another critical advantage of prioritizing enduring design is sustainability, a hot-button issue in the advancing 21st century. Rapidly changing trends contribute to a disposable culture, encouraging the constant turnover of furniture and decor. In contrast, an enduring design approach promotes using high-quality, durable materials and classic styles that stand the test of time, reducing environmental impact. That is particularly important when you consider the interior design industry contributes more than 10 million tons annually to landfills.

Returning to my conversation with Stuart, she summed up an enlightened approach to trends, saying, “Ultimately, determining what might be considered timeless is a subjective exercise. What I consider stylish might be deemed dull by someone else. I don’t feel we all need to adhere to the same dictates of design, but I often reflect on how certain decisions I make might be evaluated in the future. A wall can be repainted and a sofa recovered, but some of the actions we take as designers are likely to survive us well into the future. Will that mosaic tile we’re selecting be considered passe next year? Does the cabinetry pinpoint what will one day be seen as a regrettable moment in design? The consequences of our efforts and choices are significant and long-lasting—or at least I think they should be.

I couldn’t agree more.

Stay updated on this series author, Carl Dellatore, by following his Instagram. About Carl Dellatore & Associates – provides designers, architects, and creatives with writing, editing, and copyediting services by an established team to effectively reveal your story. 

A Q&A With Our 2024 Design 360° Award Recipient: Colette van den Thillart

By Lindsay Field Penticuff
We are excited to introduce you to Colette van den Thillart—our 2024 recipient of the Designer Society of America (DSA) Design 360° Award.

Each year, the DSA team sorts through designers’ styles and business models to discover and learn more about outstanding recipients like van den Thillart in order to designate an award winner.

“What we’ve noticed since starting this recognition is that our Design 360° Award recipients are champions of creating a 360-degree business model, which includes sound design practices, inspiring design style and a daringness to follow their passion,” says Natasha Younts with DSA.

Van den Thillart, who owns Colette van den Thillart Interior Design in Toronto, began her career in interior design about 30 years ago after graduating from the Toronto International Academy. She also earned a master’s degree in French and English decorative arts 1660-1830 in London at The Wallace Collection.

She’s had the pleasure of working on projects in Canada, the United States and Europe, but van den Thillart says Toronto is where she spends most of her time working.

Her team is currently working on several residential projects, but a recently completed one includes a ketamine clinic in Los Angeles.

“It’s been interesting, because we got to think and chat about healing spaces, and what that can and should look like,” she shares. “It’s actually also playing into a lot of our residential projects right now.”

They are also working on a project in Ireland, which van den Thillart describes as “quite special,” and they are working on the firm’s first private members club in Toronto.

When it comes to design and influences, van den Thillart admits she’s a product of the 1980s, when design was dynamic and exciting, both socially and aesthetically, but when working with a client, she takes time to absorb their personalities, lifestyles, family and clothing when creating a space.

“I really want to give them a mere reflection of their best selves,” she says. “And in a way, that’s emotionally personal, but also joyful, ideally a little bit whimsical and conducive to having a really nice life.”

To learn more about our 2024 Design 360° Award recipient, check out the Q&A below from a recent interview with van den Thillart. 

Designed by Colette van den Thillart, and photographed by Virginia Macdonald. Colette oversaw this addition to a historic home in Toronto's Rosedale neighborhood. The Villa Necchi Campiglio served as an inspiration.

Has it become any easier to navigate working internationally?

“Technology and our COVID-19 panic learning curve have definitely made long-distance meetings and presentations so much easier and digestible for clients. Travel is harder than ever, I would say, and it’s hard on the staff that I travel so much. They also do a certain amount of travel for installations and things. But, none of us would have it any other way.”

Do you ever find it hard for clients to let their walls down, so to speak, and be vulnerable so you can peak into how you can take their feelings, lifestyle, families, clothing, etc., and design around them personally?

“I feel like I’ve done this for so long that I almost feel like I’m psychic. Even from the first meeting, I pick so much viscerally. I’m looking at what they’re wearing; I’m just picking up their whole energy; probably seeing their closet, the state of their closet, what’s in their closet, what’s in their kitchen. All of these things tell you so much, and once you’ve done this long enough, you can read it in seconds.”

Your work has been featured in various publications and platforms. Can you share with us some of the most memorable features or collaborations that have had a significant impact on your career?
“It’s obviously a great thrill to see a project beautifully shot in any magazine, but I really love being part of other peoples’ books. I’ve been in a couple of the Veranda books and in a few of Nicky Haslam’s books. I haven’t even done my own book, and I’m sure I will one day, but there’s just something especially flattering and kind of touching about someone else seeing and celebrating your work. You can see your work through their eyes and it’s very validating.”

Of all the projects you’ve undertaken, do you have a personal favorite? What makes it stand out for you, and how does it reflect your design philosophy?

“I’m so emotionally invested in whatever I’m currently doing, but a standout would be the first project I got to work on in England with Nicky Haslam. It’s one thing to go to countries as a tourist, but to really be doing what you love in those countries is something even more special; working with the craftsmen in England. Our first project we worked on together was a gray, two-star listage home on the King’s Road that ended up being in ‘Architectural Digest.’ It was a really special 18th century house that was sort of derelict, so bringing something like that back to life in the U.K. and working with U.K. craftsmen was just thrilling.”

Was it easy to find craftsmen who were experienced working on homes this old?

“I did not find it very difficult to find incredible craftsmen with incredible knowledge to work on a project like that. Are they disappearing? Yes, they probably are, but there is still a real pride in craftsmanship there, and it has such a long history, so there is still a lot of talent there.”

The world of interior design is dynamic, with trends constantly evolving. How do you stay ahead of the curve, and are there any design innovations or trends that you're particularly excited about right now?

“I’m so anti-trend in the ‘get the look’ sense, but I have to stay on top of trends and clients often want to talk about them. But to me, trends are often a flag of what to steer away from, because today’s trend is tomorrow’s exiled don’ts.

“I think fashion is generally ahead of our industry a little bit, and I love watching what they are doing with color and draping. ‘Stealth wealth’ has impacted a lot of my clients, whether they know it or not, so they’re buying those clothes and it’s probably affecting their perspective a little bit; so I feel like I get a lot of my intel from the fashion industry.”

Are trends different in the various locations where you work?

They are totally different and, to me, that’s why I think having this triangle that I have is a bit of a super power. L.A. is west coast America, which has a completely different look; Toronto is more akin to east coast America; and, of course, the U.K., has a European sensibility that is completely different. With a connection to all three, I have a really good mash-up of influences, intelligence and style, and I just try to take the best of all three.”

Collaboration is often a key aspect of design. Can you share any memorable collaborations or partnerships that have enriched your creative process? How do these collaborations influence your work?

“One of the ones I’m most invested in is the fabric collection I have with Nicky Haslam. That’s sort of a legacy project and something I plan to keep going for as long as possible. I’m really personally invested in that. Then, we just did a collaboration with Justin Van Breda of like a 12-piece furniture collection that is launching in the U.S.”

You have a design shop that showcases curated items. Can you tell us about the philosophy behind your shop and how it complements your design aesthetic?

“The shop has been up and running for about three years. It was born out of the idea of wanting to try and experiment with something, and I don’t want to have to answer to anybody. The fun thing about the shop is putting things out there and seeing who responds to it. Then, you get notes from people because they bought a couple of pillows and it’s changed their room and made them so happy, and that’s just so thrilling for me. It’s kind of a way of sharing things that make me so happy with absolute strangers.”

She adds that her favorite piece is the ping-pong coffee table she created. It has broken shells in a peachy-colored cement, which brings out the 80s flair she loves. They are also looking at designing another three or four pieces to create a collection with this theme.

Designed by Colette van den Thillart. Photographed by Sargent Architectural Photography. Colette took part in the 2020 Kips Bay Show House in Palm Beach. She was tasked with designing the home's dining terrace. 
Your reputation extends globally. How has exposure to different cultures and design traditions influenced your creative approach, and how do you incorporate these diverse influences into your projects?
“I can tell the designers who travel a lot, and I can tell the designers who don’t, and the difference is enormous. The first time I went to Istanbul, for example, my work has never been the same—and in a good way. [Travel is] mandatory! Every culture has a different sense of color, a different light in the atmosphere, a different decorative arts heritage; it’s just so mind-expanding, and it all goes into the inspiration pot.”

When traveling for work, do you also get to travel for pleasure?

“Yes! Always! I can do my work trip in like four days, but I’ll do seven to 10 days, because I’m going to go out to the country and hit all the antique places, which is work’ish, but it’s also inspiration time, and I may or may not find something for a client, but that’s just what I do. That’s what I love.”

Balancing aesthetics and functionality is a challenge in design. How do you approach ensuring that your designs not only look stunning but also meet the practical needs and lifestyle of your clients?

“I think a lot of experience helps, and having had dogs and kids myself. The pragmatics come first, no matter what. That is where we start. It doesn’t necessarily look that way in the end, which is a nice thing, but in the old-school way, we start with furniture layouts and how many linear feet of closet, and do you cook or not cook. We start with the practical program, because that’s the reality. Although I want it to be beautiful and joyful, it won’t be beautiful and joyful if it doesn’t work.”

Is that practicality common throughout this industry?

“I definitely see work that looks very showroom. … I just want the room to be like a symphony. If you’re having a dinner party, for example, we talk about the difference between a dinner part for six verses a dinner party for 14; and when I get up from the table, is there somewhere I can perch with my cocktail while everyone is moving to the next room and have a gossip with a girlfriend.

“We just kind of go through all of that [during the design process], almost like it’s theater—and not in a dramatic way, but in the theater of life. How do we move through the room? How do we look? How is the lighting? What color is the lighting? My goal is that all of these things happen organically, and you don’t even realize that someone has thought it all through. But that’s my job.”

For aspiring interior designers looking up to your success, what advice would you give them as they embark on their own journeys in the world of design? Are there lessons you've learned that you wish you knew when you started?

“Travel! That’s not always easy, and I can appreciate that it’s time and money, but even if you can’t travel far, try to travel in your city. Is it hotels? You can definitely learn a lot from a good hotel lobby or good bar. The color, the lighting; sit there and have a tea, and really sort of analyze it all.

“Travel is experiential. I think it’s well worth it going to design school, but this is really an experiential art, so the more houses you can get into—whether that’s peoples’ houses or house museums—go to as many as you can, and just stand there, taking it all in.”

What lessons have you learned in your time in this industry that you wish you knew from the beginning?

“My first job was with someone who was a very astute businessman. What people have to remember first and foremost is that this is a business, and it’s a tough business, and it’s a service industry. My advice to young designers is to learn about business. … I sometimes tell people to work for a small firm off the bat, because in small firms, you tend to do a bit of everything, so that’s also a really good way of learning through osmosis without having to go through business school. And, you may even be doing things on your own—purchasing, coordinating an install, being on the install. It’s probably the easiest way to learn the business.”

Any additional advice you’d like to share with interior design professionals?

“I’m such a believer is that we are only as good as our craftspeople, so get to know and support your local talents, craftspeople, potters, weavers, woodworkers, all of those. I think it’s what elevates my work from maybe some other people who may be purchasing ready-made stuff bought overseas. It’s easy for a client to look at a catalog and click buy, but I’m pro moving away from that approach. Sustainability is increasingly important.”

Stay up to date with Colette van den Thillart, our 2024 Design 360° Award recipient, by following her on Instagram and be sure to check out her website!