Studio Maddox creates spaces that are chic, colorful, and comfortable

Beauty & Soul

By Hristo Lachezarov

Having been featured on multiple magazine covers including Architectural Digest, Elle Decoration, and Vogue Living, Ashley Maddox has slowly but surely been taking over the design world. With a degree in Architectural History from Princeton, an MBA from Stanford, a long standing love of great furniture, and a penchant for travel, it was only in her 40s that Ashley discovered her knack for design and color. It’s with this same love for all things beautiful that Ashley curated her collection for PAMONO, Beauty & Soul: a chic, colorful and comfortable mix of furnishings and accessories to feature in your home.

We sat down with Ashley to talk about a native Californian’s life in Paris and her most recent work for Vital Voices, the women’s leadership organization founded by Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright. Currently led by CEO Alyse Nelson, Vital Voices has grown to support some 18,000 women in leadership positions across the world. As lead designer, Ashley used the building as an opportunity to bring forward the work of women in design, and she expressly selected colors, fabrics and textiles that represent the cultural diversity of the Vital Voices network.
  Saint Sulpice, a project by Studio Maddox © The Sisters Agency
The new 33,000 sq ft building is an impressive seven stories high, financed with the support of a wonderful group of women philanthropists, including Diane von Furstenberg and Melinda Gates. Its amenities include an art gallery, a library, two large conference rooms, ample office space, an open kitchen, a Sky Lounge, and a roof garden with 360 degree views of the city. With all these features to consider, Ashley aimed to create a space that felt different – elegant without being overbearing – and most importantly one that celebrates the extraordinary cultural and global diversity of the women that make up the Vital Voices network. 

PAMONO: Hi Ashley. Where are we finding you today?

Ashley: In the Jardins Luxembourg, the beautiful gardens in the very center of Paris. 

P: Is this where you spend most of your time?

A: What was supposed to be a six-month stint in Paris somehow stretched into 11 years, and I traverse these gardens a few times a day. Living here has been an incredible education in style, elegance, ‘politesse’, and, at times, breaking the rules.

P: Do you like to have a getaway every now and then? 

A: I decided to take a Year of Adventure with my children this past year, partly to work from the beach during Covid, partly to try a new school system, and mainly to enjoy the fine company of Mama Africa. I spent much of this past year working from a veranda in Kenya that overlooks a wide expanse of the Indian Ocean. The sun is shining, the internet is quick, and the children have grown like sunflowers, in every sense of the word.

P: Let’s talk about your most recent project. You were leading the design of the headquarters of Vital Voices in Washington DC. What was this experience like for you?

A: Designing the new headquarters for Vital Voices was a dream job. I’ve had a 20+ year relationship with this wonderful organization, which does so much for women around the world.   We wanted to think big, and we have envisioned the new Vital Voices Center for Global Leadership as a type of “Embassy” for women and their allies, whereby the doors are open to anyone looking to engage in the issues - from anywhere.  It is our hope that great ideas, campaigns, and businesses will be created in this important new physical space.

Ashley Maddox photographed by Zoe Fidji © The Sisters Agency
P: The thing that stands out in your design for Vital Voices is the use of color. How did you decide what colors would make the final cut?

A: Like all Studio Maddox projects, the building is designed to be chic, colorful, and comfortable - it’s a formula that works every time. Vital Voices believes that women lead differently, and they’ve identified five themes that stand out among the women in their network. We assigned a color to each of these five themes of women’s leadership, using an elegant, muted, yet warm color palette.

A timeless, deep and dramatic blue denotes Driving Force. A mossy and inviting green represents Roots in the Community. A delicate gray-to-blue speaks for Connecting across Lines that Divide. A classic red exemplifies Bold idea, Bold Action, and a warm purple symbolizes Pay It Forward. Each of these five colors shows up as a theme in the paint, tile, and fabric choices around the building.

P: And beyond the colors, what more can you share about the design?

A: We designed the various floors with clean lines, open space, uncluttered walls, and carefully considered decorative elements. We believe that pieces that are made by hand have a special soul to them, and we made an effort to feature hand-made items wherever possible, including a beautiful range of vintage furniture, all of which was sourced via PAMONO and Chairish’s network of antique dealers in Europe and the US.

Rue Jacob, a project by Studio Maddox © The Sisters Agency

P: Speaking of PAMONO, you named your collection Beauty & Soul. Are these two core values for Studio Maddox?

A: It’s such a joy to live amongst beauty, whether the dappled light of an ivy strewn courtyard, the comfort of a perfectly proportioned chair, the profound natural beauty of the mountains or the sea, or the kindness of a friend. I like to surround myself with things that have a natural soul to them, which are made by hand more often than not. You can feel the time, attention, and love that goes into a handmade kilim, a piece of pottery, and a fabric that is made on a loom.

P: It is a soulful collection, indeed, and it perfectly represents this diverse approach to design. Can you tell us more about what the future holds for Studio Maddox?

A: We are currently scaling up to lead a new property fund focusing on central Paris. We’re going to acquire, renovate, and decorate a portfolio of beautiful apartments, which will then be rented out in the lead up to the 2024 Paris Olympics. I have been buying, renovating, and selling homes in historic buildings since 2008, if on a smaller scale, and this next step will just give a broader platform to our style and approach. It’s the early stages of fundraising at the moment, and we can’t wait to get the project off the ground. After ten years in Paris, we know how to find the properties, and we’re well positioned to achieve this with the help of a great network of architects, contractors, and artisans.

P: Are we going to be seeing the colorful, chic and comfortable Studio Maddox signature in this project as well?

A: The storyline of our new portfolio will center around color, playfulness, and great design.  Each of the apartments will be an inspired venue from which to enjoy the Olympics Games, which itself is another form of profound beauty.

P: What are the three best tips you’d give to our readers?

A: First, play with color. Pale green paint costs the same as warm blue paint, which costs the same white paint - all of which makes such a difference to the mood and feeling of a space. Second, fill your home with pieces you love, and remove the ones you don’t. They will magically go together, and you’ll be happy every time you walk in the door, which is what a home is all about. Last but not least, work with talented people who love what they do and are confident about their knowledge and experience.  Don’t try to do everything yourself! Teamwork makes dream work!

P: Thank you Ashley! It was lovely talking to you. See you soon.

A: Avec Plaisir, as they say in Paris!

You can now shop Ashley Maddox's Beauty & Soul collection below.

  • Interview by

    • Hristo Lachezarov

      Hristo Lachezarov

      Further exploring his love for design, Hristo joined PAMONO in 2020 and is currently our B2B Growth Manager, which allows him to work with many amazing architects and interior designers on curating stories like the one you just read.

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