With her design projects and upcoming gallery show, it’s a wonder Kelly Behun has time to evolve her own architectural marvel in Southampton.
Kelly Behun at home in Southampton.
“I love to think that we’re sort of the yin and yang of Meadow Lane,” interior and furniture designer Kelly Behun says of the stark-white Southampton home she shares with her husband, Jay Sugarman, and their two sons, Miles and Arno, across the street from Calvin Klein’s modern black abode. “The way I look at my house is sort of like a laboratory for my work. I’m always making things or tinkering with different things, so the prototype or experiments tend to end up out here, not always to my husband’s delight. I try to keep evolving so it looks fresh every year.”
Behun spent six years working for hotelier Ian Schrager’s in-house design studio before launching her namesake design firm in 2010. With Schrager, Behun collaborated with many of her design heroes, like Philippe Starck and Andrée Putnam, on projects such as the Delano in Miami, the Mondrian in Los Angeles, and the Royalton, Paramount, and Morgans in NYC. Now considered an “interior designer with the eye of a gallerist,” her projects include tabletop and home accessories available at Barneys New York or Suite NY, as well as several South Fork interiors that utilize everything from designer chairs to Ikea accents.
“I just feel more creative out here.” —Kelly Behun
“From working for Ian Schrager, I learned to not necessarily spend a fortune on each piece; I don’t really care if something is blue-chip or fancy—I love those things, but for me, it’s about emotional connection and how things interact in the space,” says Behun. “It’s about how you feel when you step into [a space]. There’s insurmountable evidence that color and light have an effect on your mood.”
In 2012, she helmed a critically acclaimed show, “After,” at the R20th Century Gallery and is now hard at work planning her next endeavor with a yet-to-be-named gallery. “I love doing exhibitions and mixing that in with clients,” Behun says. “[I love] doing my line of furniture and accessories and doing shows and installations where you create this environment and make a statement about where you stand in the design world or whatever you’re inspired by at the moment. I like to collaborate with other artists in different mediums, and that’s sort of what this [future show] is going to be.”
Behun in her living room.
Very likely, much of her inspiration will come from the Hamptons, where in addition to working on her designs, Behun serves on the board of New Yorkers for Children, has hosted events for God’s Love We Deliver, and worked with the Watermill Center and the Southampton Arts Center. “I feel like I can think more clearly out here,” she says. “I don’t know if I can say, ‘This [piece] is inspired by the ocean because it’s made of beach glass’—it’s not that direct. It’s more about feeling a certain way when I get out here and feeling clear-headed. Then I can sort of exhale and think things through. I just feel much more creative out here.”
It’s that kind of no-nonsense thinking that could possibly inspire Behun’s next creative endeavor. “I love working out here, and I would love to do more—to get more into purchasing houses, fixing them up, and selling them. I would like to work here more than I am,” she says. “Would I love to have a shop out here? Yes. Would I love to do a hotel out here? Yes. Would I love to collaborate with artists out here more? Of course. I’d love to do something with the Parrish [Art Museum]. It would be really great to spend more time out here and be more involved in all of those ways because [the Hamptons] is a special place, and it’s why we keep coming back. We made this commitment to this home, and we plan to be here until the end of our days.”