Native New Yorker and interior designer Sasha Bikoff’s distinct style is bold and full of sophisticated whimsy. It was at the 2018 Hampton Classic that she won the annual tablescape contest by featuring bright pastel linens and plates, surprising wildflowers mixed in with classic perennials that wowed the audience and judge.
Her aesthetic harkens back to Marie Antoinette’s famous cakes and petit-fours, a touch of Roman empire chic with a nod to disco. She services clients in New York, the Hamptons, Miami, Palm Beach, and Palm Springs. We caught up with Bikoff to learn more about her and her vision.
Congratulations on winning the best tablescape design at The Hampton Classic this year. How did you come up with the whimsical unicorn theme?
I wanted to keep with the tradition of the horse theme but re imagine it in a less traditional fashion. Unicorns are very of the moment and they connect with the younger riders who inspire to be in the grand prix. I was looking to add a youthful spin on the event, thereby creating something more fantastical and whimsical. It’s also very important for me to be original and this has never been done before.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by nature, fashion, travel, films, set design, art, architecture, basically anything that is visually pleasing to the eye. For me, however, it starts with nature. I see how colors work together in this world and it inspires me to create color palettes in my interiors. I also have a deep connection to places and spaces of the past and being able to use similar design elements but modernized in my designs.
You started your career working in the art world. Can you elaborate? And how did it segue into interior design?
I worked in contemporary art for years. It was a time of real structure and I learned how to work in a client-based business. Although my main talents lie with my creativity and not the art of the sale, it gave me the confidence I needed to start out on my own. It gave me a backbone.
I always loved design but I had to wait for the right time to branch out on my own, and I had to be sure I was ready. In the beginning, it was all trial and error as I never worked with an interior design firm. I look at my spaces as functional art, which is more exciting to me. I am able to go beyond just picking art for a room. Now I can revolve an entire room around a painting or vice versa. Once I had my first job opportunity to do a home and it was very well received in the press, I started getting more jobs from that.
What determined your passion for design?
I was living in Paris in this interior designer’s home named Lisa Fine. The fabrics matched the carpet which matches the lampshades which matched the headboard. I felt like I had walked into this little jewelry box of a home. I was living in Saint Germain behind the Musée d’Orsay, where all the famed antique dealers are located. I would teach myself about design and catalogue all of my favorite pieces. I would frequent the Marché aux Puces on the weekends and further get lost in the world of design and antiques.
I had a boyfriend in London whose mom, Sera Hersham Loftus, is an amazing designer and she would take me around the London design scene. It was my first real taste of the industry. My grandmother, however, was an amazing designer. Although she didn’t have a career in design, she was always my biggest inspiration. I used to watch her decorate her homes with a combination of European antiques and Persian rugs. She would do amazing floral arrangements and table settings. I think it’s something you are born with more so than something you learn. It’s really about your eye and being able to imagine wonderful things that are a unique vision.
Can you remember your first professional design project?
My first professional design project was for my mother at The Dakota. To this day, she will be my best and most difficult client and really set me up for all the New Yorkers to come. The beauty was that she put all her trust in me. I never sent her anything I was buying, I just bought it.
The reason why the project came out so well was because I had a deep understanding of what she loved, her passions, her dreams, and I applied all of this into her interiors. It’s very important for me to understand and be inspired by my clients when I work spaces. Every space should tell a story of who that person is.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you choose to do?
I used to be a professional singer, so I would be a pop star. I stopped singing after high school. I did have a record deal, but decided to go to college. I’ve also always wanted to be a broadcast journalist.
Can you tell us about any trends you’re excited about?
The ’80s are definitely back. We are seeing tons of terrazzo and Memphis furniture. I also think that Canary Yellow is the new Millennial Pink.
You are involved with both commercial and residential projects. Describe a typical day in the life.
I wake up every morning so excited to go to work. I love what I do. I also love that all my projects are so different. I am a night owl so all my creative ideas come at night. Then, I wake up in the morning and hit the streets, rummaging for fabrics wallpapers and paint colors.
Commercial jobs are great because there is a clear vision and the work is completed in a speedy matter. I also love the whole idea around marketing and branding for commercial spaces and using those elements in the design. Residential jobs are more sentimental and personal. I love being able to do both.
What is your favorite book or magazine on design? How about your favorite website?
I love World of Interiors [UK] because it sheds light on older European interiors that we don’t see so often here.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding?
When you are working on a project, there are usually contractors and architects involved, in addition to the designer. I always say it takes team work to make the dream work and when everyone isn’t working together to achieve the same goal, it can be frustrating.
The most rewarding part of the design process is seeing everything come to life. When the paint and wallpaper goes up and then finally the finished project, it is such an amazing feeling.
If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?
A hotel! My dream is to do a hotel in Miami and bring back the old Miami Art Deco revival vibe. “Miami Vice”/Frank Sinatra days.
Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.
My goal as a designer is to teach the world about design and how to decorate in a creative fun and unique way. People take design so seriously and people just resort to the basics these days, and I want to change that. The world can be a gloomy place but the world we live in can be bright and cheerful through design.
Our rooms and environments effect our spirits and mood. They also share who we are as people and we should always surround ourselves with the things we love and be around objects, colors, furnishings, and fabrics that make us happy.
What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
My advice is to stay true to your visions, always stand by your work, and create a signature look. Do not copy others, rather, be inspired by others.
For more images of Bikoff’s work, go to www.indyeastend.com or visit www.sashabikoff.com or call 646-524-5941.