An open, modern kitchen features sleek surfaces and clean-lined Bulthaup cabi- netry. The stools are from Skram.

Designing the West: Elevated Spaces

When she couldn’t find a suitable chandelier for her Barbie’s townhouse, young Anita Lang disassembled her mom’s crystal bracelet and fashioned her own custom fixture. “I’ve always been passionate about creating beautiful homes, even when I was little,” says the Scottsdale, Arizona-based designer. “My mind works very spatially, and I love the whole process of visualizing and sculpting a space.” 

Cool neutrals cre- ate an air of calm in a contemporary bathroom, with cabinets from Goodall Custom Cabinetry and Millwork topped with Caesarstone counters.

Lang’s parents were German immigrants, and her father built all of the family’s homes. “When I was 13, my brother, sister, and I spent our summer vacation shingling the house,” she says. “My parents taught us that we don’t eat unless we work. My dad had a machine shop where he built semiconductors, and he taught us how to create and fix things. It was a meaningful way to grow up.” 

Lang kept the emphasis on the stunning views in an open living area, with an oversized sectional sofa from Pianca that invites relaxation and conversation.

After living in Maine and Wisconsin, the family moved to Arizona, where Lang eventually founded IMI Design in 1992. She subleased half of her first 400-square-foot office. “I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, so I’m careful,” she says. “I don’t waste money, and I think efficiently. When the economy crashed in 2009, it taught me to be an even stronger businesswoman.” 

Today about 40 percent of the firm’s projects are commercial, balanced by luxury residences both in the Southwest and beyond. Lang has designed homes from Los Angeles to New York City and in other countries such as Costa Rica. “The American West is a great place for a design firm,” she says. “Our terrain is rugged and unique, and the landscape inspires interesting architecture that we get to complement as designers. We can be very innovative here.” 

Natural light streams through the abundant windows in a sunny dining area, where Calligaris chairs surround a sculptural Design 528 table. Photos by Dino Tonn

Typically the firm will be involved from the early planning stages of a project. “Most of our referrals come from architects,” Lang says. “We work hand-in-hand with them, and collaborate on the interior features like built-ins, ceiling treatments, staircases, and fireplaces. The furnishings are an extension of what we’ve already started. The mistakes get more expensive as you go along, so I always advise my clients to get everyone on board early to save time and money.” 

Lang chose a palette of creams, browns, and grays for an intimate living area. The sofa is by Cierre and the armchair is from Thayer Coggin.

A trio of chrome stools provides casual seat- ing in a contemporary kitchen; cabinetry was crafted by Linear Fine Woodworking. Photos by Karyn Millet.

Lang relies on her intuition to guide her clients and help them define their style. “As we look at images together, and they explain what they’re drawn to, I start to help them articulate what they want,” she says. “Clients sometimes know what they like but have trouble seeing things in context. The designer can envision the final composition. We achieve the best results when our clients have faith in us. If they trust the process, they’ll be happy.” 

A striking Clarke bathtub is offset by a Philip Jeffries wall treatment.

Lang’s designs always begin at the heart of her clients’ emotions, as she explores how they want to feel while they’re experiencing the spaces. “I think it’s important to feel nurtured and cocooned in a home,” Lang says. “I enjoy the process of thinking about how to help each client enjoy their best possible daily life, and then using all the tools we have to evoke those emotions.” 

The dining table is by Design 528, and the chairs are from Bright Chair Company; the ceiling is clad in red cedar.

In an elegant master bedroom, Lang designed a simple platform bed to reference the lines of the artworks and fireplace.

IMI Design has a division that creates fully furnished turnkey residences for real estate developments. “We’re designing a lifestyle for people, and it takes finesse to make sure everyone’s needs are met,” Lang says. “We’re currently working with high-end luxury residences at the Talisker Club in Deer Valley, Utah. In the context of the mountain aesthetic, people today want simplicity and a cleaner design that doesn’t feel dark or heavy. I’ve incorporated fresh, natural materials like white oak ceilings, contemporary stonework, and modern European cabinetry. I don’t use a lot of patterns; instead, I create visual interest with colors and texture. Classic, timeless design ages gracefully, reduces waste, and is more ecologically sustainable.” 

Custom overhead fixtures by Hinkley Lighting highlight the soaring ceilings in an open living area; the sofa is by Pianca and the artwork is from the Phillips Collection.

 

A deep soaking tub by Kohler creates a spa-like setting in a spacious bathroom; fixtures are also by Kohler. Photos by Dino Tonn

A custom chandelier illuminates a Nuevo dining table and Eurø Style chairs.

Lang also has a line of furniture, Design 528, named for the 528-hertz frequency which is said by some to be the sound of love. From clean-lined dining tables to sleek four-poster beds, each piece is functional, artistic, and ethically created from a palette of natural woods, metal, and textiles. “I’m fascinated by how things are made,” Lang says. “If a quality piece is created with human hands using organic materials from nature, it resonates differently than something cheap made by machines.” 

A colorful Loloi rug underfoot inspired the design palette for a spacious family room. The oversized sectional is from Lazar, and the armchairs are from Noir. Photo by Dino Tonn

She advises her clients to follow their hearts when it comes to choosing art and accessories. “Buy well, and collect things that speak to you as you curate your home,” she says. “Think about the overall emotion you want to feel in the space, like serenity or joy. I believe so much in the power of good design to elevate the human spirit.”

Lang designed the entrance door, which is handcrafted from mahogany and cold-rolled steel. Photo by Dino Tonn.

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