Monday, September 24, 2018

New Talent to Know: East Bay Designer Mead Quin

New Interior Direction: Composed, Pure, Serene, Tranquil — Mead Quin Explores the Purity of White...with Just a Slight Dash of Color

When Mead Quin established her namesake interior design firm in Emeryville 2013, she had already enjoyed several years of experience working with top designers Martha Angus and Grant Gibson. She had earlier spent a decade studying fine art.

Now, following two highly successful appearances in the prestigious San Francisco Decorator Showcase, Quin has an impressive portfolio of clients that includes tech entrepreneurs and leading innovators. Her projects span Oakland, San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Berkeley.

Mead Quin is making her mark with her beautiful and distinctive calm and tranquil décor, and the precise deployment of pure neutral tones and understated design.

Always Understated

“My goal is to design spaces that are cohesive, elegant and functional,” says Quin, who is also a firm believer in the adage ‘less is more.’ “I want my clients to invest in quality and longevity rather than quick and easy. It’s not enough for something to be beautiful… it needs to have substance, be well made, have meaning, retain value and function over time.”

While every detail of the planning and installation phases is meticulously composed and thoughtfully considered, Quin’s lighthearted approach results in enjoyable experiences and lasting relationships.

Versatile—Mead Quin has designed both an all-white living room and a flirty, witty petite bathroom for the annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase:

Quin who holds a degree in fine art, credits much of her success in the industry to her time as a designer with Martha Angus Inc. Working directly with Martha, she learned the fundamentals of the trade from 2008 to 2012. Mead diligently studied her mentor and found she working on high-profile projects throughout the Bay Area.

Prior to her work with Angus, Mead worked for Grant K. Gibson in an administrative role.

“While Martha taught me technical skills, Grant taught me how to keep it all in perspective and maintain a lighthearted approach to the process,” said Mead, “and that is something I take with me every day to each job.”

Design is Mead’s second career, but a creative one that is a natural progression from her original endeavor. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1999 with a Bachelor’s degree in fine art and spent the first five years of her professional career as a portrait artist. While pursuing an MFA at the Academy of Art in San Francisco in the early 2000’s, Mead had a chance encounter with the world of interior design and considered the possibility of shifting her career path. “The idea of creating beauty that would be lived in enticed me,” says Mead.

In 2013, Mead decided it was time to strike out on her own. Mead Quin Design, with headquarters in Emeryville, is a boutique firm with a closely-knit team.

“I planned to apply my skills as an artist using a two-dimensional medium into three-dimensional spaces,” she said. “When I first observe a space, I am looking at it as a painter, evaluating light and dark, line quality, composition, scale, balance.

Art is a key element in her designs.

“Art adds beauty, and it also contributes soul, meaning, and depth to a space,” said Quin. “ My favorite clients are those that care about the art… where it comes from, who created it and why, what it says about them as a collector. Art has potential to add an entire dimension to the space that could not exist otherwise. 

Inspiration for the pure lines of her interiors comes partly from her belief that a serene interior is also a timeless choice, she admires the English minimalist architect John Pawson and his elegant, pared-down interiors.

“I appreciate Pawson’s ability to distill his designs to what is essential and to edit excess,” said Quin. “I love the classical modernity and beauty of his work and study it regularly. He inspires me to edit, to only include what is essential, to pay attention to proportion, line, light, function and purpose.”

Her use of color is, like Pawson’s, refined and thoughtful.

“I learned so much about creating colorful, punchy palettes while designing with Martha Angus,
 said Quin. “I can happily create these for clients. My personal taste, however, is more restrained, subtle and quiet. I love the softer side of color…playing with ways to incorporate it in gentle manners where one shade blends into the next in a soft ombré artistic effect.

The refinement and talent for editing developed swiftly.

“My eye is drawn to simple design in architecture, interiors and objects,” said Quin. “It’s about using beautiful materials and about getting down to the most basic, important and significant aspects, highlighting those and letting go of the rest. It is not for everyone. For many, more is more… and that is a beautiful, daring, opulent way of creating interiors. For me, however, I like what is essential… it helps me get to the heart of the matter, the base line value.”

Quin believes in spaces that are cohesive and beautiful, but also purposeful and functional.

“White is my favorite starting place, perhaps from my days as an artist where I always started with a blank, white canvas,” she noted. “White is inherently soothing, it represents simplicity, provides mental clarity and requires precision. It is also a perfect backdrop for art. It doesn’t compete. The right shade of white compliments everything. You never tire of it.” 


Texture, tone, subtle shifts in palette and precision with line and scale are some of the ways Mead Quin makes white work. A few thoughts:

1.  Include soft colors that emulate shadows (soft blue, grey, taupe) to bring depth and richness to a primarily white room.

2.  I also love layering materials that are similar in tone but different in texture. We recently made pillows in a beautiful, light silvery-grey fabric by Loro Piana for a white linen sofa. A subtle shift from one to the next but just enough to add depth, character and luxuriance.

3.  Part of what makes our white spaces unique is the warmth and softness evoked through the subtle shifts in tone, natural materials, soft lines. We never want our spaces to feel stark or cold!

Photography courtesy Mead Quin Design.