After spending so much time at home, we’ve all had a moment to rethink how we want to live. Manhattan-based interior designer Peter Sandel of Peter Sandel Design is here to help you create your dream home with his refined yet relatable approach.
What’s your professional background?
After graduating from college, I worked on Capitol Hill, which translated into a 10- year career in federal government affairs. Both private-sector jobs were with U.S.- based trade associations. The first was based in D.C. and I lobbied on behalf of CEOs of the top 100 financial-services firms; the second was choicely headquartered in Manhattan, where I was hired as the first in-house lobbyist for the toy industry.
You ended up working for architect Peter Marino. What did you learn from him?
To wholeheartedly embrace my own creative curiosities and artistic passions. Once I allowed myself to dig deeper and plug into those intuitions, everything aligned for me to translate a passion for design into a profession. I admire and am often reminded of Peter’s fiery commitment to his work and to his refined vision. His masterful approach of marrying architecture, art, and interiors on a grand scale has inspired my own process.
What made you want to get into interior design?
I’ve reimagined living spaces for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I would rearrange our neighbor’s living room when left to dog-sit over a weekend. That impulse continued throughout my twenties in friends’ apartments after a few glasses of wine. It’s part of my DNA to seek out the beauty and best use for a space. And while my parents nurtured that impulse and creativity at home, it never felt like an option for me to make design a career. It was the move to New York, coupled with the untimely death of my mother that compelled me to further explore my passion for interiors and live the life I always imagined.
What differentiates you from other designers?
My firm is not about creating a brand, and it’s not centered around a social media following. It’s first about the client experience and fostering a meaningful relationship along the way. I believe we’ve arrived at a place where clients insist on a deeper connection with how they spend their time and a deeper meaning to the things and experiences they invest their money in. I started my own firm because I enjoy being an integral part of the design process alongside my clients. And while I rely on a great team to help manage project details, it still excites me to do the research, dig through books for inspiration, and walk the space before, during, and after the project is complete. Ultimately, these projects are also the clients we have for life, because the feeling the finished space evokes leaves an indelible impression.
What are your favorite kinds of projects to work on?
I enjoy the process that comes with home renovations. Particularly when we’re able to walk the existing space with the client and use a guttural response to reimagine how they could utilize the new space. I have projects where the programming phase begins well before the client has even closed on the property. There’s something spiritual about seeing the potential in an older home, and then putting together the team to help make that vision a reality for our clients. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good before and after photo?
What has been your proudest moment as a designer?
I’m proud of the resilient business I’ve built and remain grateful for the continued growth we experienced in the face of a global pandemic. COVID-19 has certainly challenged the way we all work, but it’s also brought out the best in many in our industry. Our showroom partners work overtime with us to ensure our clients’ orders stay on track, and our workrooms continue to impeccably deliver on the ideas and concepts we submit for bespoke custom furniture.
Are there any similarities between design and politics?
Absolutely! Advocacy, relationships, and trust are at the heart of both. As designers, we are first advocates on behalf of our clients’ interests. It’s the network of professional relationships we call on to navigate obstacles, find the best solutions, and ensure our clients’ interests are met and maintained. Without trust, the process cannot exist.
What’s your design vibe?
The PSD vibe can be described as “refined yet relatable; personalized through layers.” We’re motivated to create something unique for every client and prefer to design spaces that feel more curated and collected than decorated. We achieve this by creating a dialogue that harmonizes client interests, contemporary aesthetics, and classical references. This philosophy plays a binding role throughout our design process. Therefore, our portfolio is not tied to any one signature style but highlights a range of approaches unified in fresh finishes, custom upholstery, antique and vintage furnishings, modern and contemporary artwork, and fervid dedication to quality craftsmanship.
What’s the best thing about working with you and your team?
Authenticity is magnetic. When I started thinking about the concept of our new design studio, I knew I wanted the space to be filled with all the genuine aspects of design that help us develop personal and unique spaces for our clients. The feel of a drawer pull, the texture of a wall covering, the grain of wood flooring, and the “hand” of fabric all become more comprehensible and real when experienced together.
Photography by Max Burkhalter, Kyle Knodell, and Ryan McDonald.