Atlanta Designers Forbes + Masters Dish About Design

Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters talk about designing under quarantine, their interior design work and living a stylish life.

October 06, 2020
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Photo by: Andrew Michael Phillips

Andrew Michael Phillips

Eight years ago, Atlanta interior designers Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters found themselves overlapping on a design project, and something clicked. They began to collaborate on projects, and the two designers established Forbes + Masters a year later. Since then, they’ve been featured in a variety of design and style magazines, and boast residential and business clients throughout the Atlanta area and around the country.

We caught up with Tavia and Monet in late summer to hear more about their work and lives.

What’s keeping you busy right now?

Monet Masters: Honestly? It’s quarantine. A lot of homeowners are basically using this time to execute all the projects they didn’t have time for before. Everyone’s home, looking at their ugly things and they’re like, "We need a designer!" And here we are.

Blue Tufted Benches Flank A White Fireplace In This Living Room Design

Living Room With White Fireplace And Blue Tufted Benches

Luxurious tufted benches provide cozy seating in this living room designed by Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters of Forbes+Masters Design in Atlanta.

Photo by: Kimberly Murray

Kimberly Murray

Luxurious tufted benches provide cozy seating in this living room designed by Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters of Forbes+Masters Design in Atlanta.

Tell us about your design process.

Tavia Forbes: We really try to get to know our clients in the initial consultation, find out as much information as possible so we can design a product that is personal. Even though we are bold and eclectic, we don’t design just modern or contemporary or traditional. We pretty much do it all.

What inspires you?

MM: I have this perspective that everything around you is a design, so inspiration is everywhere. I was on a walk with my boyfriend the other day and came across a tree that, for me, inspired a whole new wallpaper. And it was just a tree, shedding! Inspiration lies in the eye of the beholder.

Tree Print Wallpaper Highlights This Nursery Design By Forbes+Masters

Nursery In Neutral Tones With Twin Cribs And Tree Wallpaper

Tree print wallpaper, along with kid-friendly decorative birds, plush animals and insect wall decor, reflects the scene outside the tall windows in this nursery designed by Monet Masters and Tavia Forbes of Forbes+Masters Design in Atlanta.

Photo by: Ilya Zobanov

Ilya Zobanov

Tree print wallpaper, along with kid-friendly decorative birds, plush animals and insect wall decor, reflects the scene outside the tall windows in this nursery designed by Monet Masters and Tavia Forbes of Forbes+Masters Design in Atlanta.

What’s your favorite room to design?

TF: The weird spaces. Rooms that have a particular function for a particular person. Whether it’s a craft room, a media room — the odd room. The room that’s like, in Georgia they call them "keeping rooms." No one knows what to do with that room so let’s give a purpose that’s very specific to the homeowner.

MM: I really like designing very small spaces. It forces you to be creative and really intentional with your design. It’s easy to throw a lot of furniture into a large space. It takes a lot more thought to design a smaller room for function as well as design.

Who is your design guru?

MM: Right now, for me, it’s Brigette Romanek, she is an African-American interior designer out of California.

TF: That’s both of ours.

Tavia Forbes And Monet Masters Of Forbes+Masters Design

Atlanta Interior Designers Tavia Forbes And Monet Masters

Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters formed Forbes + Masters Interior Design in Atlanta eight years ago. Since then, they’ve been featured in a variety of design and style magazines, and boast residential and business clients throughout the Atlanta area and around the country.

Photo by: Andrew Michael Phillips

Andrew Michael Phillips

Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters formed Forbes + Masters Interior Design in Atlanta eight years ago. Since then, they’ve been featured in a variety of design and style magazines, and boast residential and business clients throughout the Atlanta area and around the country.

Talk a little about your world away from work. What’s a favorite memorabilia item in your own home?

TA: A mask that I bought in Jamaica. Also, my mentor gave me a 17th century Italian helmet encrusted with amethyst stones. It’s fairly gaudy and ridiculous and I love it.

Favorite colors?

MM: My favorite color does not have anything to do with my preference for interiors, but my absolute favorite color is, like, a rusty burnt orange.

TF: And she has all the pants to prove it! For me, it’s either pastels, very muted tones, or neon, very shocking egregious colors.

What is your superpower?

MM: I can read minds. I read people very well, how they’re feeling, what they’re feeling. I think it helps me to come to where they are, whether for work or outside of work.

Modern White Living Room With Black Accents By Forbes+Masters

White Living Room With Black Chairs And Large Window

This living room with its black and white design theme has a contemporary feel. "Even though we are bold and eclectic, we don’t design just modern or contemporary or traditional," says Tavia Forbes. "We pretty much do it all."

Photo by: Forbes Masters

Forbes Masters

In Atlanta, what’s your favorite place to take an out of town guest?

TF: The bars on Edgewood, some of the bars there are fun. And Ponce City Market.

MM: Different hiking trails around Atlanta, and the BeltLine. And Peters Street. There are a lot of Black-owned businesses and a lot of inspiring art.

What makes you laugh?

MM: Dogs sitting in the passenger seat of cars.

TF: Animal voiceover videos.

Best Instagram moment?

MM: I would say, whenever we do anything live, I find that to be pretty fun and entertaining.

TF: I’m going to be honest. I am Instagram handicapped.

Back to Forbes + Masters: Does your company have a catchphrase?

MM: This is it in bullet points: “Personal, custom, trusted.”

What new trends do you see coming up?

MM: I was reading the other day that navy and different shades of blue, we’re going to see that in the coming year. I think people are also going back to putting colors on their walls, no more neutrals. Starting to break into some pastels, not necessarily bold, but colors on all four walls.

TF: The trend of curved furniture, round shapes. The color brown.

Black Side Chairs With Brown Leather Cushions In A Living Room Design

Living Room With Large Window With Draperies And Black Chair

Black accent chairs reflect the clean lines of this modern living room designed by Monet Masters and Tavia Forbes of Forbes+Masters Design in Atlanta.

Photo by: Forbes Masters

Forbes Masters

Black accent chairs reflect the clean lines of this modern living room designed by Monet Masters and Tavia Forbes of Forbes+Masters Design in Atlanta.

Most exciting moment of your career so far?

TF: An emotional moment was the feature in Essence last year [as part of the magazine’s 50th anniversary].

MM: That’s definitely a pivotal point in our career, but most recently we got to do a wallpaper line [for Mitchell Black Wallpaper and Textiles], and it was featured at the Atlanta Market. Upon seeing it I immediately burst into tears. To see some of those things come to life was really emotional.

Anything new and exciting you’d like to share?

TF: The wallpaper line! It’s already being featured in a showhouse, we’ve had a few clients request to use it in their homes. And we’re almost completed with the buildout of our new office space, which is also really exciting!

One more not-work question: What’s on your music playlist these days?

MM: Beyoncé. Black is King. I absolutely love all the artists she’s representing on that album. I also love Betty Carter. I love the artist that she was and what she represented.

TF: Oumou Sangaré, an African artist we came across on Spotify. Absolutely beautiful. I love folk music, and her sound is like African folk music.

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