As far as her craft goes, Clair van der Swan thinks of everything.
The designer has been fine-tuning her holistic style since childhood. As a kid, she discovered designer Marcel Wanders in the pages of her mother’s fashion magazines, and liked that he considered—and often created—every element of his projects. “That’s my idea of interior design, you do the entire space,” she says. When it came to a recent commission involving a Naples condominium, that included the walls, ceilings, floors, and a fair amount of the furniture pieces.
Her clients, Bill and Kathy Schirmang, hail from the metropolitan Chicago area, but prefer the weather and views in Naples so much that they decided to make it their primary residence. When they set out to update their waterfront condo, they first brought on Steve Ferqueron along with the building team from BCB Homes in Naples, but finding the right designer proved a little more difficult. After an unsuccessful local search, Ferqueron suggested van der Swan, whose style was quite different than what the homeowners had seen so far—but, as it turns out, it was just what they were looking for.
“They adored Clair at ‘first speak’,” says Ferqueron. The Schirmangs gave the designer a little bit of guidance and a lot of space for creativity. In her initial conversations with the couple, van der Swan immediately understood what they wanted: “Something classic, a little bit of French influence, coastal but not Florida coastal,” she says. “And of course, to take advantage of those water views and splashy sunsets, the kind that envelop your senses and leave an impression.”
Ferqueron became a crucial collaborator, helping van der Swan address certain structural issues and making design contributions of his own. They reimagined every room, from floor to ceiling, and infused each space they tackled with elegance, ease, and a bit of modern flair. As she likes to do, van der Swan was not only the interior designer on the project, but the furniture designer, art curator, and in one case, artist.
In the dining room, where the ceiling was raised by more than a foot, the designer centered an acid-etched antique mirror over a custom table that she designed (down to the wax finish, which took several tweaks to get just right)) to give the space even more visual height. The striking console tables are van der Swan originals too, with richly stained walnut wood bases on a tilt, topped with sleek Calacatta marble.
To complement the furnishings, van der Swan curated a varied art collection with a mix of commissioned and existing pieces. The dramatic painting over the living room sofa is artist Jake Wood-Evans’ dream-like interpretation of Peter Paul Rubens’ Diana and her Nymphs Hunting. In the study, new custom walnut wood paneling is the backdrop for an original Picasso purchased at auction from Sotheby’s. For the opposite wall, van der Swan commissioned two pieces from an LA-based artist John Millei whose work reminded her of Picasso’s brush strokes.
Throughout the home, van der Swan punctuated the rooms with cohesive color by painting all the doors in Sherwin Williams Dignity Blue, and echoed the hue in the graphic artwork in the entryway, a piece she created herself. In the primary bathroom, where a wall of antique mirrors is used to dramatic effect, the rug echoes the ocean blue once again.
Textured and eye-catching, the floors and ceilings are standout surfaces. The flooring throughout the home is completely new, and was fit together with painstaking care by Ferqueron: a chevron pattern in the primary bedroom, Versailles parquet in the living and dining rooms, and a knockout Marie Antoinette-inspired design in the study. The ceilings, too, received special attention, including a honeycomb pattern in the primary bedroom, which adds style without busyness. “We wanted to sprinkle some seasoning up there, but not overpower it,” says Ferqueron.
Attention to detail is literally around every corner. But as gorgeous as it is, this home is not just a showcase—it’s a warm, welcoming, and comfortable classic that delivers exactly what the client wanted. “I started with a feeling,” says van der Swan. And she ended up with something completely original.
Interior Design by Clair van der Swan, Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Builder BCB Homes, Naples, FL
Text by Ann Kaiser
Photography by Sam Frost, Culver City, CA
Open to see Interior Design Sources:
Mirror grouping – Edizione Limitata Factory, Gallerie Philia, New York, NY
Artwork – Clair van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Ceiling fixture – Circa Lighting, West Hollywood, CA
Sofa – B&B Italia, WPA Chicago, Chicago, IL
Armchair – A. Rudin, Los Angeles, CA
Cocktail table – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Side table – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Area rug – The Rug Company, Los Angeles, CA
Chandelier – Baccarat, Miami, FL
Black sofa – American Leather, Bassman Blaine, Irvine, CA
Glass cocktail table – Barberini & Gunnell Srls, Ancona, Italy
Side table – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Cabinetry and desk designed by Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL, and Steve Ferqueron, Reside Custom Homes, Los Angeles, CA, and fabricated by Ruffino Cabinetry, Naples, FL
Sconces – RH, Los Angeles, CA
Guitar stand designed by Stephen Ferqueron, Reside Custom Homes, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Flooring designed by Stephen Ferqueron, Reside Custom Homes, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL, and fabricated by Unique Wood Co., Naples, FL
Table – Balsamo Antiques, New York, NY
Chairs – France & Son, New York, NY
Chandelier – Serena & Lily, West Hollywood, CA
Table – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Chairs & chandelier – Moooi, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Consoles – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Poster bed and bedside chest – Vintage, Owners’ collection
Lamp tables – Ralph Lauren, Circa Lighting, West Hollywood, CA
Bench – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Chair – Vintage, Owners’ collection
Decorative table – Mackenzie Childs, Aurora, NY
Chandelier – Sabrina Landini Studio, Pisa, Italy
Cabinetry designed by Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL, and fabricated by Ruffino Cabinetry, Naples, FL
Round mirror – Atelier van der Swan, Los Angeles, CA & Miami, FL
Sconces – The Urban Electric Company, North Charleston, SC
Tub – WaterWorks, West Hollywood, CA
Lighting – APPARATUS, Beverly Hills, CA
Vintage wall mirror – Glass Visons Studio, Los Angeles, CA
Area rugs – King Kennedy Rugs, Los Angeles, CA
French limestone supply – Onestoneworld Inc., Long Beach, CA
Stone & tile installation – Supreme Flooring, Naples, FL
Finish carpentry – Specialty Contracting Services, Fort Myers, FL
Interior doors – Architectural Resources & Associates, Inc., Miami, FL
Wall painting – Barrier Solutions, Naples, FL
Custom furniture – Mario Grimaldi International, Los Angeles, CA