Trip Haenisch has been working as a designer since the mid-80s, first with Waldo Fernandez and later with business partner Martyn Lawrence-Bullard. Today, he heads his own six-person firm in West Hollywood, working on thirty high-end projects for a clientele that includes celebrities, socialites and media moguls. He has been honored by HG magazine as a “New Tastemaker” and his work has been featured in over seventy publications, including the cover of Architectural Digest. Each Trip Haenisch project is as unique as the client who commissioned it. “I don’t like to repeat myself, ‘ he says modestly.
Each project begins with a careful assessment of the architecture. “The box needs to be right,” Haenisch insists. “I look at the architecture to try to understand it and what it is asking for. Then, I try to figure out the client, and see the project through their eyes. Our business is about understanding people’s lives, how they entertain and how they want to live, and then, create that world for them.”
Like a painter priming a canvas, Haenisch prepares “the box”: “I want to make the shell perfect, even if that involves moving walls, adding a skylight or refinishing the floors. I want each room ready to receive the furniture and art.” Trip custom-designs the furniture for most of his projects. “I will rarely buy a reproduction piece of furniture,” he says.
An avid art collector in his private life, Haenisch embraces
clients who come to him with substantial art collections of their own to install, and he is delighted to work around an existing
collection. To him, art is vital to a home, and he works with art consultant Jackie Schaeffer to help beginning collectors to fill in empty spaces in his clients’ collections. “Art is very personal, “ he says. “I will send someone to a dealer that I trust and suggest that they look at their collection and see what appeals to them.”
Haenisch has made some daring choices with art, placing edgy, contemporary pieces in the very traditional interior he designed for a Paul A. Williams house in Beverly Hills. “I used the contemporary art to modernize the interior for the young clients,” he explains. “They liked the traditional architecture, and they respected its history, but they are a young couple with kids; they didn’t want to live in their grandmother’s house! The contemporary art expresses their youth.”
At the opposite extreme, Trip has also placed important works of art in casual environments. It’s all part of Trip’s playful—even irreverent—approach to displaying art. “I am putting a Warhol litho of a cow in a client’s ultra-modern, stainless steel Poliform kitchen!” he laughs.
This informal approach has brought Haenisch an adventurous clientele with discerning taste and high aesthetics. “My clients are curious and intelligent,” he says. “They want to know about art.”
He visits galleries, surfs the Web and Look-Look magazine, among other sources, in search of exciting art and fresh creativity. “I enjoy the hunt,” he reveals. “I’ll see a piece I like, then think about how it would look in a client’s house.’
His goal, however, is not to “match” art works to their interior design. “If you buy art to match your sofa, it looks too commercial, accessorized, not collected,” he asserts. “If you have art that doesn’t match precisely, if you put a painting with fugitive colors in it in a room, it’s much more exciting and original.”
He purchased a huge painting by Massimo Vitale for actress Courtney Cox, and installed pieces collected by her husband, David Arquette in their new home. “David has beautiful, edgy art,“ Trip recalls. “I put it on wood surfaces. The play between the darker, textured surfaces, as opposed to plain, predictable white walls like you’d see in a gallery created something magical.”
Haenisch personally admires John Baldessari, and he designed a room in his home as an homage to the artist. He collects photography, including images from Lisette Model, John Meadows Sutcliffe and the late Herb Ritts, who was a close friend. The photography collection shares space with sculpture, art, furniture and antiquities, an eclectic mix with each piece reflecting its owner’s enthusiasms and passions. That’s Trip Haenisch’s definition of a successful project.
“There’s no excuse, “ he says, “for bad design.” –Lynn Morgan
Trip Haenisch & Associates
658 N. Crescent Heights Boulevard • Los Angeles, California
323.651.4445 • www.triphaenisch.com
Both Images: Art complements the decor in an Orange County, California residence. Photos by Steven Barston.