Aigner Journal

Hospitable, stylish, traditional, modern—the design duo reflect the flourishing southern city of Atlanta.

Mother/Daughter Duo

How did you get into the interior design business?

Margaret: My father was a furniture rep, and he had lines from Italy and Spain—chandeliers, accessories, upholstery. It was exciting growing up with all these beautiful things from around the world. I have a business degree in marketing from the University of Georgia, and then I studied architecture and interior design in London through Michigan State University. I came back to Atlanta and at first worked for other people, and then in 1982 I started my own business. I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people and learning new things, and that’s really what inspired me. It’s taken me all over the place—I’ve done a house in Nantucket, a ranch in Colorado, a home in Winnetka outside Chicago. It’s so much fun.

Clary: At a young age, I was watching my mom in the business—she worked from home—and going with her to ADAC and antique shops. I was very interested in her fabric and wallpaper book. In kindergarten, you do that self-portrait—what you want to do when you grow up, and I said a decorator, just like my mom. In college, I had an internship at Brunschwig and Fils, at ADAC, and then I also worked for Phoebe Howard on Christmas break. After graduating I was a buyer for a clothing store for year, but I realized my passion was in interior design. So, I went to SCAD and took design courses and then began working with my mom.

Mother Daughter Design Duo Margaux Interiors

Clary carries the Irena Tote in Crema Margaret carries the Ava Hobo in Black.
How would you each describe your design style?

Clary: I would say both of our style is deeply rooted in tradition. We’re passionate about antiques. The older I’ve gotten my aesthetic has gotten more traditional. When I was younger I was drawn to the interiors in Domino: very bright, lots of lacquer, colorful. I still like that use of color—most of my clients like blue and white, greens, celadons—but the furniture pieces I use now have more traditional lines, beautiful antiques and sofas that will last 30 years. I like mixing pattern and texture, say, a grass cloth with a velvet with a linen. Tradition is forever and I want my interiors to be lasting.

Margaret:
Lots of my clients right now are moving into condominiums and high rises, what I call “right sizing,” changing into a different lifestyle that’s better for their time of life. So, what we’re doing is editing, and mixing the finest things they have with fresh new things—a contemporary painting or furniture and selective use of pattern, or an oriental rug next to a piece of sisal in the next room. It’s actually stunning. We both are believers in classic, quality fabrics and upholstery. The whole bones of the room we base on quality and symmetry. It depends on the client. Our work is a lot alike—though maybe she uses more pattern than I do. For colorways, I try to look at what my client wears and what they look best in. I always try to make sure that all houses are different and I try to reflect my clients’ lifestyle.

Mother Daughter Design Duo Margaux Interiors

Clary carries the Irena Tote in Crema and wears the Lido Sandal in Gold. Margaret carries the Ava Hobo in Black and wears the Negroni Sandal in Gold natural.

At Etienne Aigner, we talk about building on our classic heritage and craftsmanship while making products that up-to-date for the modern woman. It sounds like that’s how you two approach design.

Clary:
We strive to create interiors that are classic, beautiful and long lasting. Our goal is to create an interior that’s both fresh and timeless. You look back at Billy Baldwin and a room he did in the ‘80s and it still looks fantastic. That’s why we’re attracted to the Etienne Aigner brand. The shapes are classic but there are touches on the bags or shoes that are very on-trend.

Margaret:
Yes, that’s the way people live today. They’re not quite as formal but if they do want to have a formal party they want their house to rise to that occasion. On a day-to-day basis, they want their homes to be both casual and elegant but really comfortable. We look at classic designers like Dorothy Draper, Parish-Hadley. Elsie De Wolfe actually worked in Atlanta in the early ‘20s when many beautiful homes were built. Most of these designers studied in Europe and put that together with a more American style. I think people today travel a lot and their houses reflect that.

Mother Daughter Design Duo Margaux Interiors 
Clary carries the Bali Satchel in Natural with Black trim. 
What do you like about the shoes and bags you chose for this story?

Clary:
The Bali bag is adorable. I thought it would be great for my upcoming trip to Italy and the Amalfi coast. I love that the bag looks vintage. It’s so pretty and I love the mix of wicker and leather—it’s what I do with my interiors. The Irena Tote is a great multipurpose bag that will go from the city to the beach. The Lido sandals have the cork heel with the mule and I love that they’re gold, which goes with everything. They’ll look great in the summer with tan legs and a white dress. I love the Legend sandals in lavender—so fun with a red dress. The Desire wedge in black is perfect for running around town.

Margaret:
The Ava Hobo is also large enough for fabric samples or a set of plans. The Negroni sandals are perfect for summer—I could wear them with a pair of jeans or a dress. And they have that leather/gold mix. People are loving metallic in interior design right now, especially gold and brass. That’s why I also chose the Layla in silver: metallics are super with blue and white. And I’m going to borrow Clary’s Bali bag, and I’m sure she’ll borrow mine!

How would you describe your personal style? 

Margaret: My style is classic, quality clothing with interesting details. I’m interested in natural fabrics and the way they feel. There are lots of great silhouettes out now with gorgeous sleeves. I’m loving the resurgence of small patterns. I like how the new midi lengths flow, but you can always look really good in a classic silhouette.  For work I’ll wear good-looking slacks, shoes, blouses. We move around a lot. I’ll throw a jacket on when I have to go out. We go on construction sites but the next appointment will be a meeting where we have to look good.

Clary: I feel that my choice in clothing has become more pared down and edited. I like more timeless things. I invest in less but more expensive things that will last a little longer. For trendy things, I like to get a fun blouse at H&M or Zara. I like tried and true items. A great pair of straight jeans, a pretty button down top—I will spend more on those and wear them for years. Most days I wear white jeans or cropped flared jeans and a pretty blouse and some kind of blazer, with a pair of mules or loafers and then I carry a great bag.

Mother Daughter Design Duo Margaux Interiors

Margaret carries the Lana Crossbody in Chambray.

How is working together as a mother-daughter team—and how will you celebrate Mother’s Day?

Margaret:
We complement each other—she’s had lot of experiences I haven’t had and I’ve had lots she hasn’t had. We try to keep our eye on our goals and have a vision about where we want to go. We keep our priorities clear, and we are bluntly honest with each other. We both have different clients but there’s a lot of synergy sharing an office together. This spring we went to Déco Off in Paris to see the new fabric lines for spring and it was extremely inspiring for both of us. 

Clary:
When I first started working with my mother, I was her apprentice. You can go to school for interior design, but so much of the learning is being out in the field. I assisted her for about four years and she was my mentor and that has been wonderful. Now that I’ve spread my wings, it’s nice to have her when situations arise and asking her advice on how to handle these situations because she’s seen it all. It’s also nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. I’ll come back from vacation in Italy the day before Mother’s Day. I’m a mother myself—I have a five-year old boy who celebrates me with breakfast in bed. My husband’s mom and my mom are good friends so we’ll take them out to lunch. It’s a family affair…

Mother Daughter Design Duo Margaux Interiors

Clary carries the Irena Tote in Crema and wears the Lido Sandal in Gold. Margaret carries the Ava Hobo in Black and wears the Negroni Sandal in Gold natural.

We know you both love Atlanta; it’s where you grew up. Does the city have an influence on your style? 

Clary:
Yes! Atlanta is deeply rooted in tradition, but it’s grown exponentially since I was born. It’s so much more metropolitan than it used to be—more high rises and condominiums. That influences our design work, mixing traditional with contemporary. 

Margaret:
I find Atlanta to be extremely gracious and people love style here. With our warmer climate, people love to live outside in their houses. Atlanta has been a hub for transportation and our city has exploded. We have everything we want here—it’s a great, fun place to live and work.

Photos by CatMax Photography

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