Photo by Beth Singer

Approachable and Comfortable Design

Talking with Michigan Designer Paul Feiten

BY JONATHAN W. THURSTON

Based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Paul Feiten is an interior designer who is all the rage with numerous awards to his name, including the prestigious Detroit Home Magazine award. And he has a message for home-owners.

Feiten's website offers his interior design philosophy: "I strive to create a home that is beautiful as well as functional with a keen eye to placement of furniture and accessories."

When it comes to design, it's clear that Feiten is just as attuned to function as he is aesthetics. "I make things very approachable and user-friendly. You have to be comfortable, and your house has to be pretty, too."

When asked about what he does for clients, he said much regarding the current culture of furniture purchasing. "I know furniture well as far as scale, design and a certain finesee, so I can educate the client and tell them why these choices are better," Feiten says. "When you open up a magazine and you see the furniture, you're like, 'Where's that furniture?' And they're not available at a retail level. It's available to me. Unfortunately, there are not stores around for consumers to go into, just the basic local furniture on the market. The smart consumer will hire a designer to get a better look." A clear price-quality ratio exists for consumers, Feiten argues.

"Somebody will go out and spend $1,500 on a sofa, and the cushions will start going, and the sofa will not last, and after three years, they're ready for another sofa. A wiser consumer spends $5,000 on a sofa, and it lasts 20 years. But that furniture is not available to the consumer walking in."

Photo by Beth Singer

Feiten has been doing this for most of his life. When he was younger, he had the opportunity to be a part of the family business as a manufacturing representative, "very technical parts in a sophisticated industry," Feiten says, but lost interest once he was out of college. "I wanted to do something more creative. So, I started out on my own. I've been doing this since I was 23 years old."

When it comes to design, Feiten focuses a lot of his efforts on international design. "Travel is a big source of inspiration. When you go to Europe, people have different words to describe things that we don't have in our language. They would put new fabrics together and different combinations." Like much of Feiten's work, those design choices are often not just aesthetic, but also functional. "I work with a variety of people from...Egyptian heritage, Lebanese heritage, Arabic heritage, Italian heritage and even Indian. So I'm able to work with indigenous people and integrate some of their artifacts and their heritage and their customs into their home...You're in a very personal home, and you know their home has to reflect that." Some of his recent work has led him to find an Indian swing for an Indian home and even a dining room table that can seat 18 for larger, communal dinners.

When asked about his awards from the Detroit Home Magazine, Feiten explained how big an honor it was having judges across the country - impartial and not connected with the Michigan area - praise his work. "I've won numerous awards over the years with Detroit Home Magazine...It's competitive, and they judge fairly. It's just a great way to be recognized with the industry."

Paul Feiten can be reached via phone at 248.763.7323 or through his contact form at the Michigan Design Center website.
This Week's Issue

Download or view this week's print issue today!