Max Humphrey is a low-key interior designer with full-service capabilities and a focus on creating interesting and unpretentious spaces that reflect the people that live and work in them. His style is a lived-in, layered look and he thinks every room should show signs of life. He believes style is about knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
Share a little bit about why you love Paul Edmondson’s work? In what kind of space do you envision his photographs?
I love Paul’s work because he celebrates nature. So many photographers make themselves part of their photos even from behind the camera, but Paul honors the American landscape without exploiting it. He has the ability to make really small things seem larger than life, as well as huge things (like water towers and billboards) seem like they’re part of the scenery. I use his photos in every room of my clients’ homes — they can work dressed up in more formal spaces, like over a dining room sideboard, just as well as in a fun family room that needs a hit of color or text.
What inspired this career path for you?
I was touring the U.S. and England as the bass player in an indie punk rock band, and after our record label folded, I had to get a real job again. I moved back to L.A. after my years on the road, rented an apartment, and just started decorating it while I was job hunting. Six months in, I was spending all my time and energy learning about interior design, and then a light bulb went off that the job I had been searching for was right under my nose the whole time. That was over ten years ago!
Tell us about your creative process.
I like to design around the way my clients actually live. If they’re casual and eat dinner at the coffee table while watching Netflix (like I do), I’ll design around that lifestyle. If they have friends over for game night a lot, I’ll get rid of their dining table and make it a ping-pong room. If they have kids, I’ll use performance fabrics in their formal living room without sacrificing style. Beyond that, my process is to have fun, go with my gut, and not overthink things too much.
Describe your style in 6 words or less.
Maximum volume laid-back Americana.
What’s a staple in your tool kit?
I bought a wooden folding ruler from the estate sale of my design hero, Albert Hadley, after he died. I keep it close by to remind myself that design is about organization and life is about manners.
Who do you look up to in the design world?
Ralph Lauren, Roman and Williams, Thomas O’Brien, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Sibella Court, Wes Anderson.
If you could design a space for anyone, what kind of space and for whom would it be?
I think good design should be available to everyone, so in a dream world, I’d get to design some sort of public space that’s enjoyed by a lot of people. A library would be fun or maybe a laundromat. To subsidize this, I’ll take a sprawling mansion owned by a scared millionaire, too, please.
Tell us your favorite design-related word, phrase, or quote.
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
I love Pinterest and design blogs and Instagram as much as the next guy, but I still love buying print magazines and books and newspapers. The Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty section is a consistent source of good writing.
What do you love about Viyet?
People talk about sustainability in design a lot in terms of new materials and production methods, but the ultimate in sustainability is buying vintage, and Viyet’s designer resale consignment concept makes that process easy.