SEPTEMBER 17, 2017
Text by HANNAH DOOLIN, Photography by Simon Upton
Interior designer Shana Sigmond actually got her start on the silver screen—though not in the way you might expect. As a Hollywood set designer, Sigmond spent years hunting down everything from finishes to furnishings, transforming environments for blockbusters like Ocean’s Eleven and Almost Famous. A decade working with directors like Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Cameron Crowe, and Francis Ford Coppola afforded her the chance to illustrate their visions on screen with detailed portraits of the characters’ lives. “The experience taught me how to convey tone, mood, time, place, and character, relying only on our sense of sight,” Sigmond says.
Since shifting away from the film industry and relocating to New York City, Sigmond has spent the last seven years applying those same visual storytelling skills to real-world design work. She moved on to collaborate with design firms Peter Marino Architect and Roman and Williams, and led the design team at WeWork. Now, as the head of her own firm, Shana Sigmond Studios, she creates personalized narratives for her clients, whether they are homeowners or hoteliers.
Sigmond’s own New York City apartment stands as a prime example of how she effortlessly weaves character into a space without making it feel manufactured. “Like a good book or a great movie, I’m interested in creating environments that don’t reveal themselves in their entirety until after some time,” she says. “I like for people to find surprises and idiosyncrasies that surface only after you’ve been in a place multiple times.” When Sigmond moved into her 800-square-foot one-bedroom in west Chelsea, she embraced the challenge of limited square footage. Instead of knocking down walls, she used the apartment’s confines as a practice in restraint, considering how she would realistically use each room. “It was really a shift in thinking instead of a shift in space,” she says.
At every turn, Sigmond’s light-filled apartment is scattered with collections of custom pieces, flea market finds, and mementos from her travels and past design projects. While certainly thoughtfully considered, the vignettes she creates never feel precious—to Sigmond, even pretty things should have a purpose. “We should ask ourselves what works, what’s comfortable, what’s real and of real value for us in our house,” she says. “It’s ever-evolving. There’s a conversation in how the pieces speak to one another.”