24 Jul Designing the West: Confluence
Though Katherine Reedy discovered Wyoming as a design student in college, she didn’t indulge her passion for fly fishing or the beauty of the Cowboy State until she had tackled a career in one of the toughest markets in the world. In New York City, Reedy immersed herself in large-scale corporate design with Gensler and Associates, but found that her passion was for details and the smaller, more intricate work she would focus on in the boutique firms where she later worked. “Working in that rarified and intense environment gave me the confidence to start my own firm,” she says.
Even with terrific success in New York, Wyoming was always in the back of Reedy’s mind and she jumped at the chance to move to Jackson Hole when, by all indications, the small cowtown was coming of age as a style force in the West. Her husband, architect Tom Ward, had lived in Wyoming for most of his formative years and was equally anxious to return. The pieces fell together, and in 1990 Reedy opened ek.Reedy Interiors.
In moving from New York, its vast cultural influences and demand for excellence, to the more laid-back environment of Wyoming, Reedy made the transition from concrete and steel to a place where nature infiltrated everything. For Reedy, everything transformed: The colors were different, the materials changed from stone to wood. She brought her whole library from New York thinking, as she laughs, “that I would use it. Obviously, it didn’t translate well. The environment is so different. The intensity of the light is distinctive.” Reedy’s remarkable ability to adapt allowed her to apply New York experience to a multitude of different residential projects in Wyoming. Reedy was exhilarated by all the new materials; in Wyoming she could pull from the environment to make a space utterly fresh from a regional point of view.
Reedy’s unique approach to design keeps her work indefinable and organic, which opens a world of possibilities for projects in Jackson Hole and beyond. In a variety of projects that range from log homes to the ultra-modern, Reedy applies her own contemporary twist on Western design; but working in traditional Western style doesn’t deter her creativity. Reedy is keen to use many colors in a single residence, for example, but she pays careful attention to how they transfer, blend, work with (and on top of) one another. She makes a point of taking on clients worldwide, helping them to create spaces that reflect their lifestyle in that particular location.
In the sophisticated community of Jackson Hole, Reedy’s colleagues are quick with praise. “Kathy understands what we are trying to do. She understands the concept and works with us instead of trying to reinterpret our work. She enhances what we are trying to accomplish,” says Mitch Blake, her husband’s partner at Ward Blake Architects. Reedy was instrumental in assisting Blake with the interiors in his own home, choosing colors, finishes and furniture. “She complemented my work,” he says. “It was really nice because your own place is so personal.”
Incorporating far-flung personal pieces into decidedly Wyoming spaces is one of Reedy’s strong suits. Her clients come to her from around the world, with pieces of their own culture to integrate into their personal space. “Kathy hung the moon,” says client Dragon Sherman emphatically. “She has great suggestions, never tries to force anything. She gives you lots of options, and nicely guides you in the right direction. She never pushes,” she says.
For Reedy, the relationships with her clients are the high point of every project. Their participation leads to spirited collaborations which, for Reedy, are an enjoyable process of individual design.
Reedy’s own personal style, too, reflects her ability to collaborate effectively. The rammed-earth home she built with Ward is a unique rendition of Western vernacular. “I love the textures,” she starts. “The two-foot earthen walls are like a sand painting with striated color patterns.”
Reedy’s matchless and artistic visions, combined with her ability to easily integrate cultures into one dynamic space, has landed her twice in the prestigious Interior Design Review and on Western Interiors & Design’s Gold List. But for Reedy, by far the weightiest compliment comes from the number of clients who continually refer her to others. By all accounts, Kathy Reedy’s love of art, design and Wyoming makes for a very positive contribution to the design community.
Thea Marx is fifth-generation born and ranch-raised from Kinnear, Wyoming. Much of her career, including her book and Web site, ContemporaryWesternDesign.com, has been dedicated to Western style. In September 2010, her show, Style West, and workshop, Women Who Design the West, will open in Cody, Wyoming.