10 Questions With… Designer Anne Dereaux

Anne Dereaux could be recognized as the designer who is redefining the essence of freedom. She recently created a furniture collection named Float that realistically represents the illusion of heavy forms in flight and metaphorically defines her creative liberty as an architectural and interior designer. A series of products that defies gravity but not thoroughly, each piece in the collection looks heavy to the sight. Perhaps it’s the radical effect of the thick-stitched leather puffers or the steel frames that make it seem so.

She’s also the designer behind the construction of three-time Grammy-winning artist Victoria Monét’s home, which she’s been working on for two years now. In her practice, Dereaux believes in aesthetics. It’s a model in which she has framed her artistic philosophy, and it’s boldly evident in her designs and the ways she approaches them. She’s keen on geometrical forms, which doesn’t come much of a surprise, especially for an architectural designer in her prime. But it does come as a surprise that she happens to be a musical artist, an art form she tells Interior Design, she has heavily relied on, not only sonically but has attached a piece of herself to and it’s internally assisted her in her creative process as an architectural designer.

Anne Dereaux is also an adept believer in artificial intelligence (AI). She’s also vocal about it and the ways it would shape the future of the architecture and design world. “I see AI as creating a space where the best ideas have the opportunity to shine. It enables ideas to be fully realized without being hindered by limited access to hardware/software or limited technical skills,” she says.

headshot of Anne Dereaux
Portrait of Anne Dereaux. Photography courtesy of Anne Dereaux.

Anne Dereaux On How Music and AI Shapes Her Design Practice

Interior Design: Take Interior Design through your journey as an architectural and interior designer.

Anne Dereaux: I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture from Tulane University, with my master’s thesis completed at Cornell University. For the first eight years of my career, I immersed myself in urban revitalization projects, a period that included the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina—arguably the most rewarding endeavor of my professional career. When I arrived in Los Angeles in 2013, I joined an architecture firm where, in my very first week, I was tasked with meeting with the estate of one of the Beatles to oversee a renovation project. This left an indelible mark that scratched the itch I had been looking for in this field—residential design. There’s a distinct intimacy and human connection inherent in designing homes that you don’t find in other design experiences.

From there, I progressed to designing and managing projects for esteemed clients, including royal families, cultural icons, movie stars, and tech magnates, all within other firms. Even with all this, the transition to entrepreneurship has felt like starting at ground zero, given that my previous work is safeguarded by NDAs or the intellectual property rights of past employers. But I’ve been fortunate to cultivate strong relationships within Los Angeles’ tightly knit building community. Over the span of a decade, these connections have created some amazing opportunities for my new design team: Dereaux Studio (est 2022). From my personal experiences in the music industry, I’ve also connected with clients—for example, we’ve been chipping away at Victoria Monet’s home renovation for a few years now. In some ways, I think homes are a constantly evolving organism, and I like to stick with my clients through those evolutions.

ID: What inspired your Float collections and what was it like creating it?

AD: The Float collection came from a spark of imagining these seemingly heavy forms being supported by an impossibly delicate frame. There is a freedom in furniture design that isn’t present when working on buildings—you don’t have to go through the mud of permitting and all the extensive engineering coordination. 

ID: You mentioned on Dwell that you were also a musical artist. Has music inspired your work as an architectural designer?

AD: More than anything, music is what kept my creative spirit alive. When you are going through the arduous but necessary muck of learning the technical aspects of building, so little of it is what I would deem “creative work.” It’s mostly navigating personalities, schedules and budgets, and managing engineering coordination and technical drawings. 

For much of my early career, I moonlighted as a musician—at a pretty serious level I would say. I also moonlighted as a creative director at Motown Records. The beautiful part of that experience is that it established a foundation of community and a social media presence outside of architecture with the very people who became my clients when I first left to start my own company. There is definitely a layered element of storytelling that is inherent in the creation of a musical experience—the lyrics, the chords, the visuals—that ties into the way I think about spatial design. It goes back to the sensitivity of the individual human experience, and how people feel when they’re navigating the story of their lives.

ID: You started a design brand, Dereaux Studio. What work have you done with it over the years?

AD: Dereaux Studio started as a solo effort at the top of 2022, and I was able to expand to a team of three talented senior designers in July of 2023. I am obsessed with efficiency, and really pride myself on having a future focused practice in all ways, from our IT infrastructure, to the new technologies we are consistently learning and keeping up with as a small team. Generationally, millennials kind of got the short end of the stick, but in the rapidly evolving landscape of AI, I think we have the advantage. We are at the crossroads of hands-on building experience and the vast capabilities that AI brings to the table. We’re well-versed in technology, we understand the intricacies of construction, and we’re still open to embracing change. So, my team is leaning in and bridging the gap.

We currently have design projects up to 11,000 square feet ranging from Southern California to Georgia to Virginia, taking on both the architectural and interior design scope. We are also working on expanding a branch of the company to design and distribute collectible design furniture pieces, which has been one of my goals since college. 

brown armchair
Float. Photography courtesy of Anne Dereaux.
olive green armchair
Float. Photography courtesy of Anne Dereaux.

ID: What architectural or design philosophy has shaped your work over the years?

AD: I truly believe design has to start with the human element, with how one wants to feel in a space. I love aesthetics, but at the core of the most powerful aesthetics, there is an intention of engaging and amplifying life’s most precious moments in a real way.

I’m equally passionate about democratizing good design, so we’re also dedicating efforts to developing a more affordable line of designs. We’re reimagining materials that have often been dismissed as “cheap” and transforming them into livable objects with a sense of refinement. Our inaugural creation—a reinvented inflatable chair—is currently in production and is set to make its debut very soon. It’s just the beginning of our mission to make exceptional design attainable for all.

ID: You are big on AI and the way it affects the architecture and design industry. What has been the major shift you’re noticing and how have you, as a designer, been able to weaponize it?

AD: I believe that AI brings tremendous efficiencies to design communication within a project, empowering small firms to compete on a larger scale. It allows us to swiftly explore various design languages and aesthetics, all while taking into account different building types and construction methods. What might have previously taken three months and a dedicated staff member can now be accomplished in a matter of hours. Note-taking and meeting minutes, annotating CDs—all the things that were once busy work—can now be automated, freeing up valuable time.

To be frank, I worry that young people entering the architecture and design field may struggle to see AI creating a space where the best ideas have the opportunity to shine. It enables ideas to be fully realized without being hindered by limited access to hardware/software or limited technical skills. In many ways, it levels the playing field. On the flip side, I worry that new graduates entering the field may struggle to find positions where they can learn the art of turning fantastical concepts into tangible realities. AI streamlines processes, but there’s a risk that it might overshadow the hands-on learning experiences that are necessary to become an effective design practitioner.

cork and stone chair
Stone x Cork. Photography courtesy of Anne Dereaux.

ID: There is a geometrical detailing in your designs especially Float, was that inspired from your background architecture?

AD: For sure, I’m always thinking in light, form, and concept versus parts and pieces. Architectural design certainly encourages a more holistic approach in that sense.

ID: Your concept of materials is very interesting. You recently designed a product with resin. Can you tell me about the project and what it was like exploring with resin?

AD: I’m fascinated by the interplay of light refractions and form. I initially envisioned that table in glass, but found resin to be a far more practical medium. It’s about a third of the weight, easy to carve, and has a nearly unlimited range of colors and transparency levels. I collaborated with a great team from Rotterdam to bring that piece to life. I love working with resin, but its cost is prohibitive for larger pieces.

ID: You also recently created a project with stones, somewhat like marble. Tell me about the project. What inspired it and your decision with the materials?

AD: I believe you’re talking about the pieces featuring natural stone and cork. Cork is such a fantastic material—it’s sustainable, lightweight, and formally versatile. I enjoy experimenting with materials that are typically overlooked in the realm of “fine art,” and like to use tools of design and reinvention to redefine their potential.

ID: What are you currently working on at the moment?

AD: I’m finishing up construction administration for Victoria Monét’s home and a couple houses in Malibu, starting up a few new projects in Los Angeles, a cabin in Georgia, a home in Virginia, and pushing on the furniture! Staying busy, and thankful for it all.

puffy rocking chair
Float. Photography courtesy of Anne Dereaux.

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