Boston is filled with designers, and Tony Fusco of Fusco & Four wants to open up and give a behind-the-scenes look at that world of architecture, furniture, and fashion to residents with the first Boston Design Week. It’s packed with more than 60 events, giving Bostonians opportunities to mingle with local designers who mix fashion and music (Rock the Village show in Allston on March 21) or to learn how Boston designers changed the world (March 24 at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design).
“We want to offer the public an opportunity to explore architecture, urban design, interior design, fashion, graphic design, industrial design, and studio design,” said Fusco, who, along with partner Robert Four, has been an arts promoter and producer for the past 35 years.
One of those design events is a 2014 update of the Otis House in Bowdoin Square. Select rooms in the 1796 Federal-style home have been radically reworked — just temporarily, of course. One of those rooms, redecorated by Boston designer Steven Favreau, is bolder than anything Harrison Gray Otis, or architect Charles Bulfinch, could have imagined. It looks like a space plucked out of an experimental boutique hotel.
“Otis is a historic property, and I suspect people will be expecting that I’m going to do a tasteful restoration of the room with lots of nodding to the 1790s and the early 1800s with lovely antiques and calm and safe colors,” said Favreau. “But that couldn’t be further from what they’re going to get.”
The Milford native, who has offices in San Francisco and Boston, is perhaps best know for appearing on the HGTV reality competition “Design Star” (he was a runner-up). He now works in the top tier of the interior design world.
“I’m not looking to work on 15 $100,000 interior design jobs a year,” he said. “I’m looking for four to five people a year who want to spend $1 million on a project and really want to push the envelope and really want a home that’s a statement.”
He started as an actor, singer, and dancer before landing in interior design. We talked with Favreau about his bold, colorful universe.
Q. How much did being on HGTV raise your profile and land you new clients?
A. It doesn’t make the phones start ringing, but when it’s in your bio, it catches people’s attention. Let’s face it, people love celebrity and reality television shows. It’s a great conversation starter. And then on the other side, from a purely selfish standpoint, it was so much fun. It was the most stressful and the most exciting time I’ve ever had in my life. I’d never do it again but it was certainly worth it when I was there.
Q. Any early life experiences in Milford that helped inspire you to get to where you are now?
A. I was always redecorating. My parents would go out to run errands and they would come home and I had rearranged the house. Also, I was picked on incessantly, so that helped me get out of town as quickly as possible. It’s interesting how that really does give you wings to go out and find your place and have a certain amount of drive and independence.
Q. There is an outdated stereotype that Boston taste is conservative. Do you ever find that to be true?
A. I’m from Boston so I get that. But Boston is just like other major cities in the country. I’ve seen an enormous change. It’s a generational thing and I’m seeing the people who I’m working with are in their 30s and 40s. They have finally come into money and they are familiar with design, whether it be from the Internet, television, or home design magazines.
With all due respect to all the other designers in the world, I don’t want to be doing what they’re doing. The people who come to me know this. I’m not about giving you what your neighbor has. I’m not about doing the latest trend in beige, cream, and white. It’s lovely and I respect the designers to do it, but it’s not the way that I’m expressing myself. I go for bold and courageous.Christopher Muther can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at chris_muther.