When it comes to interior design, there are a lot of names that come to mind thanks to HGTV, but at the top of our list is Nate Berkus. And while we have certainly watched him create plenty of stunning designs over the years, his latest project is one that even our dog loving hearts can get behind!
Recently, we here at Dog O’Day received an opportunity to chat with Berkus about a recent partnership with American Express and Dell in which he helped the Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital. This particular veterinarian hospital is and was an essential business throughout the pandemic, which meant that even as other businesses closed down, they were hard at work helping to support their patients and their patients’ owners.
And in an effort to give back to small businesses, Dell and American Express partnered with Nate Berkus to do something special for the office and the owner and medical director of the hospital, Dr. Richard Fried. Specifically, Berkus helped to redesign the reception area of the office, and he even shared some of his tips for how any veterinarian office could do the same for themselves in a post on Instagram.
But, while both the Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital and Nate Berkus took to social media to share the news, the change, and all the details about this makeover, we actually had the chance to speak to the designer about his partnership with Dell and American Express in order to help redesign the hospital’s reception area.
Nate Berkus talks to us about his recent work at the Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital
Editor’s Note: Interview edited and cut down for time and clarity
Dog O’Day: A veterinary hospital seems like a completely different kind of experience to redesign. So, what made you decide you wanted to work on this project?
Nate Berkus: “I think that’s actually a really good question. Number one, it was a partnership with American Express and Dell Technologies that was really great. They have a long standing history of relationships with small business owners. And for me, I see the opportunity as one small business owner to another. An area that I’ve never once dabbled in or designed in. I’ve never worked on a veterinary hospital. So for me as a designer, it was an opportunity to learn a completely new set of requirements and direction. You know, I’ve never had like dogs as the client, so here I go.”
DOD: As someone who is a dog Father, did that help inspire you in any way?
NB: “One of the reasons why the AMEX business platinum card came to me is that I’ve been a card member since 1996, the year I started my design firm. And I’ve spent 26 years trying to craft spaces that reflect the people who I’m designing for. And so, you know, being a dog owner didn’t necessarily influence me other than I know what my own experience going through that feels like. Sometimes it’s really scary. Sometimes I’m really stressed. You know, I wanted the space to be practical. I wanted it to be handsome and modern. But most of all, feel really, really welcoming. And these were not my decisions. I mean, I created several different contests design directions, and met with Dr. Fried the owner, to talk to him about what he really wanted me to create, both for his clients and his clientele, animal and human, but also, more importantly, his staff who’s been overwhelmed since the pandemic, who work tirelessly. He has very little turnover in his internal team or in his long standing clientele list. And so it was really an opportunity for me to understand the culture of his business and his specific needs, and marry that to what I know about design just like any other nonprofits.”
DOD: Did you find this to be a challenge based on not just what you wanted to do, but also what needed to happen?
NB: “Not at all. Fried had made some changes to the space over the years. So there were certain elements that initially I wanted to change but were important to him. I didn’t know if I was going to be working with a space completely wiped clean aesthetically and starting from zero. But after speaking with him and meeting with him, it was obvious that there were certain things that he loved about his space. And also certain practical needs that he had, extra storage being in New York City, making sure that you know, leashes and tails couldn’t knock things over. Keeping a lot of the floor space open so that people had space to wait for their appointments with their pets in a space that was happy and comfortable. It really was a great experience. And one of my favorite elements of the whole thing was, he’s funny, the doctor I mean. He approaches things with a lot of humor. And that led me to go find imagery of animals that was sort of cheeky and fun. Because I think that represented how that office runs.”
DOD: Do you have any tips for pet owners who are looking over looking to make over a room? What would you suggest that they take into account?
NB: “One of the elements that we used in this project was all fabrics and textiles that could be wiped and easily cleaned. For obvious reasons. But what was important to me was to add natural elements with that. If I can’t use pure cotton or pure linen, and I have to use a textile or a fabric that can be wipeable or washable easily and quickly, then I wanted to use the natural materials on the lighting or on the window shade. I used a natural grass shade from the ship store. It was like I always design is always about a balance and a counterbalance of elements. So if you’re a pet owner and you’re focused on the durability of what the pet can reach, you have an opportunity to do things that are less durable and a little bit more handmade, hand done in areas like on the wall or you know high at the window that don’t need to be quite as durable.”
DOD: For the last question I have a ridiculous one. But I love asking this of anybody I interview for Dog O’Day. I have to ask what breed of dog do you think you would be?
NB: “Definitely a mutt. 100%.”
If you want to know more about Nate Berkus’ redesign of the Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital, as well as his partnership with American Express and Dell, check out his Instagram for some of the posts related to the redesign. And make sure you follow the vet hospital’s own Instagram for more on them and their work (and to see more of the redesign).