If Brad Krefman looks familiar, it's for good reason. The 33-year old interior designer has been soaring in high strata since the day he earned his Master's degree from Pratt Institute - a flight that has taken him, so far, to three continents and numerous cities throughout the U.S. to work on high-end residential and luxury commercial projects. And being a regular cast member on an Emmy Award-winning reality-documentary series has brought him not just to screens across the nation but, very likely, into your home.
We recently caught up with Krefman at the Denver Airport (after a two-week home installation for a young couple in Aspen), where he'd been snowed-in for two days. Krefman is affable and generous with his time, but, understandably, anxious to return home to his husband Eric and the couple's French bulldog Hugo - and to celebrate his first year of flying solo with his own interior design firm Brad Krefman Interior Design in Mill Valley, California.
The New Year augers well for Krefman who has become the new designer to watch in the fiercely competitive San Francisco-Bay Area design scene.
Born and reared in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago, Krefman, the second of four sons of an optometrist dad and therapist mom, was a popular and confident high school teenager who came "out" at age 15. Parts of Krefman's experience with publically acknowledging his sexual identity as a teen were chronicled in filmmaker R.J. Cutler's Emmy award-winning documentary American High, a television series that followed a diverse group of high school students at the turn of the Millennium.
Recognizing their son's love of the arts, Krefman's parents insisted that Brad first complete a degree in liberal arts before embarking on an artistic career. Dutifully, Krefman graduated from NYU with a double major in Art History and French. Further studies in Paris enhanced Krefman's esteem for the City of Light's architecture, museums and only in Paris aesthetics that further stimulated his artistic senses. Returning to the states, Krefman enrolled at New York's Pratt Institute of Design and, immediately upon graduation, was hired by the renowned Thierry Despont design group in Manhattan.
Krefman's major assignments with Despont included designing homes in Montauk on and the Hamptons on New York's Long Island; 45 Park Lane (a sister hotel to the Dorchester in London); and the Peninsula Hotel in Paris. It was during his tenure with Despont that Krefman met his future husband, Eric McFarland, a realtor, originally from the Bay Area.
Visiting San Francisco and its environs with McFarland, Krefman experienced the wonders of Northern California. "I call it my 'escape from New York moment,' Krefman says of his epiphany. "I was working so hard all week in New York and enduring the bumper-to-bumper, four-hour drives to the Hamptons or Fire Island on the weekends; I began to think, I've got this backwards. We should be living as well as working in a beautiful place. And in the Bay Area, these incredible locations are at your fingertips."
Moving to McFarland's hometown of Mill Valley, Krefman quickly landed a plum position with the architectural firm of Backen, Gilliam & Kroeger (BGK) where he designed interiors for homes, offices, restaurants and commercial spaces. A favorite project is, as he refers to it, "the like magic" condo perched high on a hill overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong for an American expat banker and his Hong Kong-born wife.
In 2015, after five-and-a-half years as BGK's senior designer, Krefman made the jump to establish his solo firm, which, from day one, found the designer in demand - thanks, initially, to BGK that liaised projects to him.With current projects including homes in Belvedere, Santa Cruz and a San Francisco Victorian - and revisits to Aspen, the Hamptons and Hong Kong on the 2016 calendar, Krefman comments on his less-than-a-year-old firm's rapid success.
"I'm a believer in super diligent and quality work - and people who look for that will find it in the talent among the many interior designers in the San Francisco Bay Area - be it with the big-named designers or those who are new on the scene like myself. I'm proud of the work we've done and with navigating things in my own way, and am looking forward to the journey ahead."