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Designer Kitty Clay – Opens Her First Signature Store in Southampton Village

Submitted by on September 18, 2013 – 5:50 pmNo Comment

Kitty Clay

Designer Kitty Clay shares her personal picks from the international world of décor in her chic, new eponymous boutique in Southampton Village at 27 West Main Street.

Part renaissance woman, part rebel, Kitty has a vast curatorial experience in design that spans the globe, appreciating European masters, yet thrilling in the discovery of grass roots artisans.  Looking at her impressive résumé you might expect a grande dame but instead are greeting by a vibrant, yoga loving lady who thinks nothing of putting her prized purchase, Donna Karan’s antique Parisian French doors, across her back like skis to bring to her loft.

Kitty is excited to share her personal aesthetic in her first signature retail space which focuses on hand-made items, small editions, and sustainable goods where possible.  She says, “The shop is a canvas to express myself through a composition and bring together all of the different vendors, dealers and artists I’ve met in my travels.”

Clay has received a warm welcome from the Hamptons.  “I love being in the Hamptons and I’m very outdoorsy so it’s great to be by the water.  It’s also an obvious place for people that have a refined eye,” states Clay.  “It’s an amazing place to show things from far places. People really appreciate that.”

Kitty Clay furniture

The shop offers a journey around the world and across different design styles.  “As a person I set my intention to be inclusive,” Kitty says. “My style reflects that.  I do tend to gravitate towards artists’ work but it can be everything from a modern bright colorful lamp to a medieval looking chair.”  Prices range from $150 for beautiful table linens to $12,000 for an Indian 12th century sand stone bust of a deity.

A few of Kitty Clay’s favorite things:

Antiques from Lee Callicchio. “She has a gorgeous eye and gorgeous antiques,” says Kitty.

Limited edition ‘Clone’ chairs from artist Julian Mayor whose work can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sculptural vases from English ceramicist Paul Philp which were chosen for the White House.

First edition books including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Tempest.

Antiques from Belgium and Sweden.

Kitty Clay’s line of upholstered furniture in different designs and fabrics.

Handmade rugs from a small community of Argentine women which help sustain their community.

Light sculptures by New York based artist Andrew Poneros where Clay asked him to create a beachy look.  “He etched into it as if it was sea glass.”

A Shopping Feast For The Senses

The shop is not only a visual but olfactory pleasure.  Kitty Clay is the only US boutique to carry Tealosophy from master Argentinian tea maker Ines Berton who has even blended tea for the Dalai Lama.  Kitty says “It’s an honor to carry her teas.  She is the most wonderful passionate human being.  Tea is an experience.  It’s about the language and ritual — taking time to enjoy and be present.  Her ingredients are the highest quality.  She travels all over the world to source them.”

Kitty Clay Tealosophy

Berton even created a special “Kitty Clay” blend with violets, rose petals, French lavender, Patagonian berries and Mediterranean citrus.  She perfectly encapsulated Kitty’s spirit, saying this blend is for “Seekers of exquisiteness.”

Clay also carries a small selection of essential oils from a master oil blender in Australia, Carol Asher.  These “One Heart” aromatherapy oils include rose, jasmine, lavender and blends such as “Meditation” with frankincense, sandalwood, and Bulgarian rose and a special Chakra kit with seven different essential oil blends.

Kitty Clay’s Journey of Discovery

Clay herself brings international experience to her design work.  She studied fine and decorative art at Sotheby’s in London, honing her eye on paintings, antiques, furniture and ceramics.  “To have the opportunity to then work at Sotheby’s was wonderful,” says Clay, “I worked on the valuation counter and really learned to tell when something’s authentic and when it’s not.”  She also worked at the legendary Colfax and Fowler.

The self-proclaimed Jane Austen fan was thrilled to apprentice with a woman in London who restored paintings and frames.  “She was a great education on the English culture,” Kitty recounts. “We went for two weeks to her clients’, a Lord and Lady down in Devonshire, and restored 15 frames on site.  It was like Downton Abbey.”

Kitty Clay herself grew up in a historic home, an 1832 house built by the second governor of Kentucky’s son.  The family home is part of the oldest continuously running thoroughbred horse farm in Kentucky and has been in Kitty’s family for generations.  Runnymede Farm breeds race horses many of whom go on to major stakes and even the Kentucky Derby.  The family also has horses in Ireland and England and France and Japan to either breed or race.

Kitty relates, “My grandmother Agnes had a big effect on my aesthetic and being surrounded by beautiful things and antiques.  I also loved the rolling hills of Kentucky and the horses which are gorgeous creatures, each with their own character.” Kitty’s father saw her eye for décor and detail early on and gave her a subscription to Architectural Digest when she was just thirteen.

Clay worked for ten years for the highly respected interior designer Elizabeth Hague based in Washington DC.  Clay says, “She was like a sister, best friend and a mom and I really learned the business from her.  I discovered not only a great sense of design but the best sources.”

Yet it was the West Village in Manhattan where Clay ultimately felt at home.  She says, “In a big city you can have a little community.  The magic of Manhattan is that it’s a connector place.  It’s a spark plug and there’s so much that’s possible.”

On her newest design experience Kitty comments, “We want to stay safe in what we know but the real excitement is when you venture out into that area that you feel drawn to but you’re not sure.  It’s taking the leap and trusting it.”

Kitty Clay will be open through the holidays and the perfect place to get thoughtful holiday gifts.

Kitty Clay, 27 West Main Street, Southampton Village (down the slate pathway) 631 488 4411 www.kittyclay.com

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