In an industry dominated by business partnerships and sole proprietors, rarely do you find married couples working together as interior designers. As every rule has an exception, such is the case of the Manhattan-based team Carrier and Company headed by husband and wife team Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller.
The couple met while students at the Fashion Institute of Technology and, from both a design and romantic standpoint, the result was kismet.
"I felt it was more inevitable than anything," Miller notes, "and we wound up having parallel career paths working at competing design firms in New York." (Carrier started at Thomas O'Brien's Aero Studio and spent nine years with Jeffrey Bilhuber while Miller worked with the firms of Sills Huniford, Sara Bengur and Marcy Masterson.) In 2005, they opened their own firm that coincided with the birth of their first child. "If we ever wanted to make quality family time, we would need to work together to control our family's schedules and we would have a little more control with our own company," notes Miller who is now the mother of two children, ages six and 11.
With an enviable client roster that boasts Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, uber-photographer Annie Leibovitz, Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain, MTV co-founder Robert Pittman, former Town & Country Editor-in-Chief Jay Fielden, and fashion designer Jason Wu—the AD 100 and Elle Decor A-list couple are sought-after for their design aesthetic of livable rooms, neutral color palettes, a mix of classic and contemporary, and a shared love for interiors with atmosphere and personality. "We definitely have strengths or affinities as Jesse is more of a colorist and I am more interested in fabrics and schemes," says Miller. "And I love furniture plans and thinking about the kinds of sculptural quality in making furniture and compositions. We enjoy both sides of it."
And Wintour, who wrote the foreword in the couple's first book Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors (Vendome) concurs: "The act of pleasing a client is something that Jesse and Mara do on a daily basis, and they do so by recognizing that how we live is not always meant to be picture-ready." Wintour's standpoint aligns with Carrier and Miller's perspective—as the couple expresses in an essay in their richly photographed book, "Life does not have to be perfect. Furnishings and possessions do not have to be perfect."
A classic Carrier and Company interior also conveys the firm's love of artful space planning, interiors, which are sophisticated yet comfortable, and interior schemes that revolve around a narrative theme or a singularly spectacular item. Miller equates their success to how she and Carrier and their family live in their in their kid-friendly, well-designed, flexible and low maintenance interiors that don't compromise style and attractiveness. "One thing people tell us over and over again is how accessible and livable our designs seem to be. They find a lot of comfort in that we are going to make things that actually last. After looking at out portfolio, they know it's going to look good and function. People find that very appealing," she says.
Perhaps the adage (and to play on the phrase) "The couple that designs together" stays together rings true.