By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Joseph Pubillones, a Cuban-American designer who earned praise for his innovative work in charity show houses – and readers with his column for Creators Syndicate – began by designing home exteriors, not interiors.
Pubillones earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Miami and a master’s in architecture from Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. He worked as an architect for several years before he returned to his first love, interior design.
“Way back in my mind I always wanted to be a designer,” he says. “Architecture school was a great education and a great background, but architects are more interested in showing off the skeleton and framework. Often furniture is a second thought. They would rather do simple, almost imperceptible arrangements of furniture.”
Unlike typical rooms designed by architects, his interiors are warm with textures, fabrics and eclectic furnishings.
Q. How has your architectural background helped?
A. I always try to remedy the architecture first, such as adding a column if one appears to be missing. But I move beyond the architecture. One of my first advertisements said: ‘Life is like theater so why not create the best stage.’ I truly believe interior design is like artistic direction. You are orchestrating how a client is going to use their space and how they entertain. The designer is a stage set designer for the theater of life.
Q. Describe your personal style at home?
A. My home is truly eclectic. I have traditional pieces mixed with contemporary and vintage.
Q. What are you sorry you didn’t buy?
A. I always wanted an Eames chair and ottoman. I found one in red leather in the Miami Design District. When I went back a few weeks later it was gone. Later I saw one just like it in a picture of Barbara Walters’ library in Architectural Digest.
Q. What is your design mantra?
A. Mix, mix and mix. A lot of designers like to start fresh. My interiors are more personal. Houses need to reveal to the visitor who you are and your experiences.
Q. How has Palm Beach style changed?
A. More people want mixed interiors with a contemporary edge. When I first arrived in Palm Beach 20 years ago, the clients were into heavy antiques. They want something now with easier maintenance. An antique can be a focal point but everything doesn’t have to be an antique.
Joseph Pubillones Interiors, 44 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach, 561-655-1717, josephpubillones.com.