For this New York-based interior designer, ranked among the country’s top 100 interior designers by New York, House Beautiful, and New York Home magazines, flexibility is fundamental. “My work is not exactly art in the sense that it has to function,” says Siskin. “I try to express what my clients want but often what they want are design fantasies. One aspect of my job is to bring them back to reality about the way they actually live.”
Siskin has developed his principles over years of experience. The seeds of Siskin’s approach germinated early. The California-born and bred designer comes from a furniture family dating back to his grandfather. Before starting at Parson’s School of Design, where he received a BFA, Paul worked as the antique buyer at W&J Sloanes of Beverly Hills. Siskin's attendance at Parsons was at a time when the first wave of minimalism was rising to the height of contemporary modernism. Hence, Siskin’s preference for the mix of old furniture in modern spaces and modern furniture in old spaces. After graduating from Parson’s, Paul worked at John Saladino's several years prior to launching his own firm, SiskinValls, in 1984.
“I have no interest in reproducing an era, nor perfecting a distinct unique style. I’m modern in my preference for a lack of clutter, but I am interested in the art, design, and the taste of each and every period. This makes it easy for me to work with all different types of clients and to collaborate with them over the long term.”
There may not be a Siskin style, per se, as his rooms are not characterized by a particular color palette or by the use of specific fabrics or furnishings. However, those are the choices he feels date a place. “In the long run, I tend to stay with the classics, especially when it comes to seating. Primary seating should be about comfort. Nothing dates a room more than trendy upholstery.”
"It’s important that a room expresses the personality and needs of those who live in it. That’s why people have to be involved in the process. Each room should be history – not my history but the history of those who occupy it." --Paul Siskin