Seeing Through His Lens: A Conversation with Interior Designer Sergio Mercado

Sergio Mercado. Joshua McHugh Sergio Mercado, the renowned interior designer, draws inspiration from the sleek, contemporary style of California while creating timeless and luxurious designs that have become an iconic part of the New York...

Sergio Mercado. Joshua McHugh Sergio Mercado. Joshua McHugh

Sergio Mercado, the renowned interior designer, draws inspiration from the sleek, contemporary style of California while creating timeless and luxurious designs that have become an iconic part of the New York City area. Whether it's a classic townhouse or a plush restaurant, Mercado's signature style is highly sought after in residential, hospitality, and commercial spaces.

Mercado's journey in interior design began in San Francisco, where he honed his skills and developed a unique modern perspective. He worked with esteemed brands like BAMO, Inc. and Clodagh Design, infusing his own artful style and passion into their designs.

For the past nine years, Mercado has dedicated himself to building Sergio Mercado Design Studio. His focus is on understanding the personal aesthetics of each client while incorporating his own creative vision. This approach sets his studio apart in the interior design world.

Observer recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sergio Mercado and delve deeper into his design philosophy and process. Let's explore the insights gained from this insightful conversation.

A Passion for Design from an Early Age

Observer: What inspired you to become an interior designer?

Sergio Mercado: Design has always been a part of who I am. Even as a child, I would rearrange furniture in my parents' home. I remember my father building me a clubhouse, and I immediately furnished it. At 16, my parents allowed me to design my own bedroom. These experiences nurtured my inclination toward design and set me on the path to becoming an interior designer.

Creating Serene Spaces

Observer: What are you known for?

Sergio Mercado: I am known for creating spaces that are sleek, rich in design, texture, and yet exude a sense of calm and serenity. I believe in harmonizing aesthetics with a comfortable living experience.

Evolving Design Ethos

Observer: How has your design ethos changed since you first started out?

Sergio Mercado: My design ethos has evolved significantly over the years. I now prioritize whether the spaces I design are life-enriching. A beautiful home should also be easy to maintain and live within. This shift in perspective has made a profound impact on my approach to interior design.

Inspiring Clients to Go Beyond Their Comfort Zone

Observer: How do you help clients move past their comfort zone?

Sergio Mercado: By presenting concepts passionately. When I share my own enthusiasm for a design concept, clients can sense that and become more receptive to seeing the vision come to life. It's about creating a shared sense of excitement and adventure.

Investing in Timeless Design

Observer: Where do you recommend saving vs. splurging on interior decor? What investments in decor have the most significant return on investment?

Sergio Mercado: It's a challenging question because I believe well-designed and limited-edition furnishings are always a good investment. Pieces by iconic designers like Finn Juhl, Wendell Castle, or Sergio Rodrigues not only elevate a room's aesthetic but also hold their value over time. There will always be a market for this type of furniture.

Collaborating with Exceptional Brands

Observer: What are your favorite brands to work with? Are there any design rules you live by?

Sergio Mercado: There are too many brands to name them all, but Avenue Road for furnishings, The Future Perfect for lighting, Rosemary Hallgarten for rugs and textiles, and Salvatori and Boffi for plumbing fixtures and bathroom vanities are some of my top choices. I value well-made and designed pieces. As for design rules, I believe that design should be free from limitations and rules, allowing for creativity and individual expression.

Making the Design Process Fun and Engaging

Observer: How do you help your clients avoid decision fatigue and keep the process fun instead of overwhelming?

Sergio Mercado: We strive to avoid revisiting design decisions. Our best ideas typically emerge at the beginning of the design process. By presenting clients with multiple concepts from the start, we can establish a clear direction and prevent unnecessary backtracking. This approach helps maintain a sense of excitement throughout the design journey.

Guiding Clients in Selecting the Right Furniture

Observer: Is there any item or type of decor that you find clients need the most help selecting? Or come to you with buyer's remorse after trying to find that piece themselves?

Sergio Mercado: Sofas and dining chairs often pose challenges for clients. The scale of seating can be tricky, and it's essential for clients to test out sofas, club chairs, and dining chairs. We insist on clients physically experiencing the furniture to ensure the right fit and comfort.

Transforming Spaces Through Gut Renovations

Observer: Do you find yourself doing a lot of gut renovation work?

Sergio Mercado: Most of our projects involve gut renovations. By completely transforming spaces, we can unleash their full potential and create designs that surpass our clients' expectations.

Enlightening Clients on the Value of Limited Edition Furnishings

Observer: Do you educate your clients to invest in certain pieces?

Sergio Mercado: When we present limited edition furnishings, we provide our clients with context by sharing the designers' biography. Attending furniture fairs, such as Salon of Art & Design or Design Miami, allows our clients to see the craftsmanship and creativity of these designers firsthand. These experiences often inspire our clients to invest in exceptional pieces.

Building Trust and Exploring New Possibilities

Observer: Have you worked with clients on multiple projects over the years? Do you find your clients embrace going outside their comfort zone more after the initial project?

Sergio Mercado: We have had the pleasure of working with several clients on multiple homes. After collaborating on an initial project, a level of trust and comfort is established. This shared vision and understanding make it easier to explore new concepts and ideas.

A townhouse designed by Mercado. Joshua McHugh A townhouse designed by Mercado. Joshua McHugh

Sergio Mercado's passion for design, attention to detail, and ability to create harmonious spaces have made him an exceptional interior designer. Through his unique lens, he continues to redefine luxury and transform spaces into works of art. Whether it's a residence or a commercial establishment, Mercado's designs leave a lasting impression on those who experience them.

Seeing Through His Lens: A Q&A with Interior Designer Sergio Mercado