This article was originally published on Christies International Real Estates blog Luxury Defined.

 

Looking at any of her eclectic interior designs, you would never guess that Sasha Bikoff was self-taught. The New Yorker was headed for a career as a singer—she secured a record deal at 18—before her grandfather encouraged her to go to college instead. Music was put aside in favor of fine art and painting, but it was overhauling the interior of her mother’s home in the iconic Dakota building that cemented her destiny as a designer.

 

What was your childhood ambition?
I was always a creative. I grew up as a professional singer in New York City. When I got a record deal at 18 my grandfather was worried about my life in the entertainment industry at such a young age and wanted me to go to college instead. I transferred my creative energies into painting and studied art history and fine arts at the George Washington University, then moved to Paris and studied at the American University. I spent most of my time there painting in the studio, creating hand-built ceramics, learning about the history of art, and working on museum studies.

 

New York designer Sasha Bikoff describes her style as “Marie Antoinette at Studio 54.” Image: Patrick Cline. Banner image: Bikoff’s collaboration with Versace.

 

Was your family creative?
My grandmother was a true tastemaker. She taught me flower arranging, the art of entertaining, decorating, mixing her Persian and European antiques, as well as gardening. My grandparents’ homes were all very eclectic and had amazing vibes—their home in Miami looked like it had come straight out of Scarface. The apartment I grew up in on the Upper East Side in New York was the total opposite—classic 1990s minimalism. I felt that it was always too sterile and institutional. At age 15 I went to the Garment District and bought two shades of sheer pink fabric and draped them around my chrome bed. I then went to the paint store and collected a dozen pink colored paint samples and wrote love quotes all over my room.

 

Sasha Bikoff got her big break into the world of interiors when she redecorated her mother’s apartment in the iconic Dakota building in New York City.

 

And what did you do after your studies?
I always knew I was going to work in the art world. I had interned at Gagosian Gallery on the Upper East Side throughout high school and college and, a week after I graduated, I started work at Gagosian, West 24th Street. I felt privileged to work in such an establishment and I was at the center of the art world at a very special time when prices were skyrocketing and artists were producing incredible, massive works.

 

My grandfather passed away four years later and I moved to Miami for six months with my grandmother. I started to design a furniture collection and research what my next moves were going to be. When I moved back to NYC my mom had gone through two designers who couldn’t understand what she wanted or the space, and I told her I was going to do her apartment at the Dakota, but under two conditions: one, that she couldn’t ask any questions, and two, that I couldn’t work with a budget. The project went viral and the rest is history.

 

The design of the Dakota building apartment shows off Sasha Bikoff’s love of bold pattern and color.

 

You also studied painting?
Yes, I studied painting in Washington D.C. and Paris. I was mostly very inspired by Rauschenberg and did a lot of mixed-media work. I also was very inspired in Paris by Paul Gaugin and painted a lot of nudes in many different bright colors. Color has always been a huge part of my paintings, and is now in my design.

 

A Hudson Valley residence gave designer Sasha Bikoff the chance to work with more neutral tones to create an oasis of calm. Image: Patrick Cline

 

How did you move into interior design?
When I was in Paris I lived in the apartment of Lisa Fine, a well-known interior designer. I walked into the apartment and the fabric walls matched the fabric headboard, which matched the lampshades and the carpets. I felt like I had just walked into a jewel box. I frequented the Marche aux Puces [flea market] and lived in Saint-Germain on Rue de Lille, where all the famous antique dealers had shops. I would go into the shops taking pictures of everything I loved, teaching myself about the history of design.

 
Tell us about your early projects…
I never worked with an interior designer at a firm. I remember walking around NYC acquainting myself with the fabric and furniture showrooms. Now I have it down to a science: I know the best and hottest brands, I have my top showrooms, but in the beginning I had to teach myself. Style and taste is something you are born with, and I am constantly feeding my mind and eyes with beautiful things and inspiration to feed my creative soul.
 
How would you describe your style?
On a personal level my style is Marie Antoinette at Studio 54.
 
How do you approach a design today?
As if it were a painting. I start with the background, such as the walls, floors, and ceilings, and then I build up on the space as though I am building up paint pigment, color, and texture. I do not necessarily believe in a symmetrical floorplan or a basic box; I decorate with passion. I believe in surrounding a space with the things you love, that reflect who you are and tell a wonderfully romantic story.
 
 
Romantic pink is a color Sasha Bikoff has been drawn to since she was a teenager redesigning her own bedroom, and is taken to extremes in this SoHo holiday house in New York.
 
 

What are your influences?
Nature is my biggest influence: the sea, the sky, the sunset, flowers. I am also inspired by my travels visiting villas, châteaux, museums, and other great places this world has to offer, plus French 19th-century paintings. And lastly, fashion.

 

 

Her designs include the Versace x Sasha Bikoff collection, launched at 2019’s Milan Design Week. Image: Versace

 

Describe the motifs you come back to…
A lot of styles from the 1980s Memphis Group. It’s such happy design and such a conversation starter.

 
 
Your staircase for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House got lots of attention. Tell us about the idea behind it.
It was such a challenge because the stair landings were so narrow. I knew I wanted to create an art installation and a technicolor dream. I found myself dancing up and down the stairs and then all these Memphis motifs came into my head. The whole design was done on that day. I wanted to put the “show” back in show house and ignite a sense of creativity. I had to shake things up over there—I am a young designer with fresh, new ideas. I didn’t want to go basic or traditional, which is what is usually done.
 
Sasha Bikoff’s Stairway to Heaven installation at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2018. Image: Genevieve Garruppo
 
 

What are you currently working on?
A new restaurant, a home in Lake Como, a home in the Hamptons, and much more!

How do you see your design evolving?
I would love to do more designing of furniture, lighting, tabletop, tiles… you name it! I would also like to design a hotel and work with a Hollywood star.

sashabikoff.com

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