Maximalist Dreams: For Ken Fulk, A Designer's Job is to 'Deliver Jaw-Dropping Joy at Every Turn' - LA Lives

The worldbuilder extraordinaire explains go big or go home approach in The Movie in My Mind.

“Like a reel on a never-ending loop, these ‘movies in my mind,’ as I call them, are a swirling amalgamation of ideas inspired by my travels, film, fashion, art, history, novels or something as elemental as the scent of a dwindling fire,” writes Ken Fulk.

READ ALSO: Epic Trip: These Photos Of The Aegean Isles Will Make You Want To Go On A Greek Adventure Stat

For over 30 years, the interior designer and worldbuilder extraordinaire has crafted some of the most enchanting spaces around the globe. From homes, hotels, restaurants and bars to members clubs, private planes and unforgettable events, it’s hard to find someone who can throw a party or infuse a space with as much personality and provenance as he could.

The designer—who has been named to Architectural Digest’s AD100, Elle Decor’s A-List and has been twice nominated for a James Beard Award for his hospitality projects—is known for his signature blend of cinematic flair and layered spaces that pay homage to the traditional influences of his Virginian upbringing.

In his first book with Assouline, The Movie In My Mind, Fulk takes readers behind the scenes of some of his most extravagant endeavors, coupling stunning photographs with personal tales of inspiration and intent behind each project.

The investigative journalist Ronan Farrow describes Fulk, who he shares in the foreword helped a create a ‘refuge’ for him, as an artist.

“He’s keyed into influences from across eras and mediums, but instinctively knows how to bring them together into something that feels both old and new, both designed and also somehow found,” he writes. “And so, disparate as his spaces can feel, they’re always, inimitably, his.”

Every new space starts with a story; with visions running through his mind as if on a film strip: a Napa Valley farmhouse that honors the region’s rural hills dotted with cabernet vines; an actionpacked superyacht that calls to mind 007, Bullitt, and Foxy Brown; or infusing a Manhattan clubhouse with his childhood dreams of grandeur: tall ceilings, pre-war moldings, shiny marble floors and a grand entrance.

“I never formally studied design or architecture, but I’ve always been innately confident in my ability to dream big,” Fulk writes. “That, combined with the willingness to take the risks necessary to bring those dreams to life, has proven to be a powerful and sometimes nerve-wracking combination.”

With principal photography by Douglas Friedman, The Movie In My Mind is a delicious, maximalist dream. Fulk is a designer of experiences. Renowned for his layered interiors, high-concept hospitality brands and unforgettable parties, he has gained international acclaim with widely published residential and hospitality projects from Mexico to Miami and Provence to Provincetown.

“Our job is to entertain our clients and deliver jaw-dropping joy at every turn. This sort of work isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s anything but subtle. It’s intentionally big, bold and most definitely delivered in vivid, living color,” he explains.

The Mill
Sunfields Manor
The Crown Club

As a co-founder and creative director of properties ranging from historic hotels in New Orleans and the Berkshires to New York’s Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Noda and Sonoma County’s plant-based dining destination, Little Saint, Fulk has expanded his impact far beyond the boundaries of design.

In 2018, he founded Saint Joseph’s Arts Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting local artists at revitalized historic landmarks in San Francisco and Provincetown.

“In the end this was not simply about building just another big house. It was a chance to set the stage for experiences,” Fulk says. “These clients understand that a vacation home is about the memories we create, the moments that leave an imprint on us and keep us coming back year after year.”

Photos by DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN, courtesy of Assouline
Banner Photo by BRENDAN MAININI, courtesy of Assouline

Shop for LIFESTYLE ASIA’S magazines through these platforms.
Download LIFESTYLE ASIA’s digital magazines from:
Subscribe via [email protected]