FOR MOST PEOPLE, WORK AND PASSION ARE NOT SYNONYMOUS. BUT PATTY XENOS, FOUNDER OF PATTY XENOS DESIGN, LINKS HER INTRINSIC INTEREST IN DRAWING TO HER WORK AS A DESIGNER. IMPROVING ON WORDS, SHE EXPRESSES HER THOUGHTS AND HER CONCEPTION OF SPACE THROUGH DRAWING.
Without even realizing it, we have all had occasion to appreciate the work of Patty Xenos, be it taking in a Canadiens game at the Bell Centre, strolling through the village at the foot of Mont Tremblant, staying at the Hôtel Quintessence, or sampling a dessert at the Pâtisserie de Gascogne on Laurier, to name just a few venues. For thirty years, Patty has quietly and discretely conceived and overseen the development of public spaces, hotels, restaurants, even stores. The interior designer has never sought public recognition; her commercial and real estate clients know well enough who she is and that’s what really counts for her. Xenos who prefers to let her sketches speak for her, sums it up this way, “In my field, we’re only as good as our last job. If we do good work, we won’t want for more.”
The love of drawing has fueled Patty since she was a little girl: “When I had no paper, I would draw on any free surface I could find, portraits, cars, in fact, anything I saw that struck me as an interesting composition. I regularly got into trouble for drawing on the walls,” she smiles. Her eyes sparkle when she recalls the time when, short of paper, her mother gave her withe pages from the telephone book so she could indulge her favorite pastime. Xenos’s field of interest comes to her naturally, as several members of her family on her mother’s side were artists, and one of her cousins was an architect: “He was my mentor, I admired him very much and I was in love with his drafting table,” says the designer, who dreamed as a child to draw cartoons.
Listening instead to the advice of her cousin, she inquired about a career in design and chose to pursue her studies at Dawson College. To this day, what she loves most about her profession is the satisfaction that comes from problem solving through her freehand sketches. While many designers use computer programs to shape their projects, Patty remains faithful to paper and pencil in the early stage of creation: “Working at a computer disrupts my creative flow”, explains the artist for whom nothing is more exciting than a blank sheet of paper… because from there, everything is possible.
The secret is in the details
For Patty, the drawing is the most powerful form of nonverbal communication: “Experience has taught me that a simple freehand sketch communicates more than a long conceptual discussion about a design. It allows people to dream with you in three dimensions,” says Patty, who has never entertained any other passion. In fact, she reveals, drawing is the catalyst that enabled her to discover interior design. In other words, one is essential to the other.
Travel, which could have constituted an alternative passion, is also closely linked to her profession; over the years, the designer has travelled extensively and realized several projects outside of Québec. Thus, whenever Patty sets foot in a new city, her first reflex is to find a bookstore to buy every book she can find on the local architecture, history, and design. Her observations and readings constitute what she calls her “mental archives,” a resource she then taps into for inspiration. All this wealth of experience contributes to her interior design vision, expressed in the creation of timeless interiors: “Because trends don’t last,” she notes. “One of my greatest feelings of satisfaction comes from returning to a project 5-10 years later, and getting that nod of affirmation from the client that it still works, feels good and that it has aged well.” To achieve these results, one must create a strong layout, use only the finest materials, study the movement of natural light within each space, respect human needs, understand behavior and ensure that it all feels right: “Why is it that we never sit in certain rooms, Patty asks. Is it the layout, or furniture? Light? Colour? There’s a reason and in the drawing of it, I arrive at the solution,” concludes this designer who, with her team, is presently leading the interior design redevelopment of the Ritz-Carlton Residence Montréal.
PHOTO MICHEL CLOUTIER.
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