The New School
These designers and architects may be young, but they're quickly rising to the head of the class.
Call her style what you will (most would say it's fairly traditional), 33-year-old McAleer associates her designs, above all, with a feeling. "I like to think of my designs as uplifting," she says. And the Beaumont, Texas, native -- named a "young decorator on the verge" by Domino Magazine last year -- isn't above using some modern touches, as well. "Colors are very important to me. I think a bit of color can bring a lot to a room."
Proof Positive McAleer designed several residential spaces (in New York, for Ralph Harvard Inc., and in Boston, for Carter & Co.) before starting her own business. Sweet, a new cupcake store in the Back Bay (shown at right), is the self-taught designer's first stab at an interior commercial space. The store's design is dominated by its custom tricolor wallpaper, which highlights McAleer's love of color and pattern. "It makes me so happy to go in there," she says.
Dream Project A classic beach house. "It's just a softer aesthetic, and it can be a lot more casual," McAleer explains. "Instead of using regular carpets, you get to use nice pretty cotton rugs." She adds, however, that it's the client who really makes a project. McAleer loves working with people with a sense of adventure, those "willing to take a couple of risks."
Tiffany Lin and Mark Oldham
Lin Oldham Design, 617-256-1048, linoldham.com
These former Harvard Graduate School of Design classmates, both 31, eat, breathe, and sleep architecture -- when they sleep, that is. Their partnership, Lin Oldham Design, is -- for now, at least -- still a side gig to their full-time jobs at Boston firms. When it comes to the projects they make time for, they insist that style is irrelevant; it's more about the "problem" each project presents, and finding a solution. "Our strength is our process, which takes into account economy, context, client, urbanism," Lin says. "The reality is that we give 110 percent to everything. You hire us to design a napkin holder, and we're going to stay up all night thinking about it."
Proof Positive A Dorchester couple hired Lin and Oldham, whose work was selected by the Architectural League of New York for inclusion in the 2005 Young Architects Forum, to find a solution for the loft space in an otherwise traditionally-restored Victorian home. The clients wanted the loft (shown at right), which was cluttered with several partitions from previous additions, to be functional both as a living space and as an art gallery. The designers suggested gutting it. "Our sense was that the structure that would be exposed, they would fall in love with," Lin says. "They just loved it."
Dream Project The next project, whatever that may be. "It goes back to what Tiffany was saying about the napkin holder, to be honest," Oldham says. "In architecture today, almost everybody specializes in something. But at the end of the day, it's all design." Envelope Pushing Nima Yadollahpour ONY Architecture, 617-451-1099, onyarchitecture.com A native of Iran who grew up in upstate New York, Yadollahpour sees designing in Boston as a unique challenge. "People who live in Boston, they really value that sense of traditional architecture," he says. "I try to find the balance between that and introducing something new." The 33-year-old architect, who earned his chops as a project designer for the award-winning Boston-based firm Office dA before going out on his own, adds that he tries to bring metaphor into each design -- metaphor that's inspired by the project space, the site it's on, or even the clients. "It's not just arbitrary. There's something beyond just walls and windows and doors." Proof Positive In a recent North End loft project (shown at right), Yadollahpour's team used the metaphor of a ribbon to "tie" different parts of the large open space together. "We ended up using these two different colors of bamboo, in part because bamboo was floor material, so that same material could wrap up and over the fireplace and tie in visually." Dream Project A home for himself. Yadollahpour says a few years ago he picked up a sketchbook and started occasionally putting down ideas for what he'd want in a house. "I just started with ideas of how I wanted the bathroom to be or what kind of site I'd want it to be on," the Syracuse grad explains. "It's constantly changing. For now, I enjoy doing small projects on my current house, which is an old house. I think that's a start." Fashion-Forward Stephanie Rossi Spazio Rosso Interior Design, 978-263-5870, spaziorosso.com It's not coincidence that Rossi, in addition to her interior design practice, also owns Maggie Taylor, a clothing store in Concord. The 32-year-old, a graduate of Suffolk's New England School of Design, says she looks to the runway a lot for inspiration when she's designing residential spaces. "I look at fashion as an influence in detail and fabric applications, and how they use ruffles and sequins and applique on their clothing, which in a way you can deconstruct and turn it into a room," says Rossi, who previously worked for Concord-based designer Mark Bombara. Proof Positive Rossi describes a living room she did for a client, in which she incorporated velvet, wool, and a beaded material she found in a fashion fabric store in New York. "That was sort of a deconstructed gown you'd see on the runway," she says. In a condo on Newbury Street (shown at right), she melded traditional and contemporary pieces into an eye-catching space that's sassy and sophisticated. Dream Project "I think I actually just picked it up," Rossi says, referring to a home she's designing for a couple in Weston. "These are the type of people who I could probably show an Armani dress, and say 'I want your dining room to look like this,' and they would get it immediately," Rossi says. Deblina Chakraborty is a writer in Boston. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.