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The two bright minds behind the online shopping sensation known as Gilt Groupe are co-founders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. Former classmates at Harvard Business School, the longtime friends channeled their post-graduate industry experience (AOL and ebay for Alexis, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton for Alexandra) to build one of the most successful companies in the field of luxury e-commerce.
How would Christie's Interiors sales appeal to the Gilt Man and Gilt Woman?
Alexis Maybank: Gilt shoppers expect curated sales – they don’t want to spend time combing through the racks to find that single quality piece. In a way, we do that for them on Gilt, by hand-selecting the best collections from the best designers. Christie’s Interiors auctions have the same appeal. The specialists scrutinize every work that comes in for sale to vet its quality and authenticity, so when you see something you like, you can be confident that it’s the real thing.
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson: I see the Gilt Man and Gilt Woman as confident and comfortable in their style, with a sense of creativity that inspires them to experiment with new looks. Christie’s Interiors sales allow one to hone one’s aesthetic across all different styles and periods, without breaking the bank. Because estimates start as low as $500, and many lots are offered without a minimum sale price, there are always terrific values to be had.
What trends are you seeing in interior design now that you’ve launched Gilt Home?
AM: We’re also seeing a lot of mixing of modern and traditional. Rather than doing up a home in a single aesthetic, people love pairing antiques and contemporary pieces together. It creates a much more dynamic space.
AWW: Since we created the new Home section in May 2010, one of the main trends is similar to what we’ve seen in fashion, and that is the mixing of high and low -- people shopping for a brand-new designer lamp for the desk they scored at the Paris flea market. Not everything has to be the same price point or quality.
Who or what has most influenced your decorating taste?
AM: My sister, Lilly. She attended art school in California and absolutely devours all of the latest trends in the design world. I like to think some of her style has rubbed off on me. She’s great at getting me to push my comfort zones and try new things, like wall treatments, unexpected colors, or taking something classic and giving it a modern twist based on where it’s displayed or how it’s framed.
AWW: My mother is an artist and she has undoubtedly inspired my color and design choices. We recently had fun together painting the ceiling area of my entryway with a red background and gold leaf sponging. It was mostly her doing, I was just her apprentice.
Are there any golden rules you follow when it comes to interior design?
AM: Be aware of trends, but don’t feel pressured to follow them. Buy pieces that you love! I’m currently in the process of moving and redecorating, and as much fun as it is to see what’s “hot” right now, I am looking at every purchase I make as an investment in the future. I’m searching for classic, timeless pieces that I will cherish for years to come.
AWW: Don’t be afraid to try new things! I love color and patterns and I’m always mixing different types of fabrics, whether they are prints, plaids, or stripes.
How do you stay in touch with what’s hot in the luxury market, especially when you’re on the road?
AM: Obviously, the internet plays a big role in us being able to stay connected with the luxury marketplace. We’re huge iPhone and iPad fans, and in addition to the Gilt Groupe apps, one of our favorites is the Christie’s app, which lets us browse upcoming sale highlights, read the e-catalogues, view condition reports, and email lots we like to our friends. As a matter of fact, just this morning I was shopping the next Interiors sale for a dining room table!
AWW: When we travel, we love getting in touch with local tastes and trends. We spend a lot of time meeting with vendors, going into the stores, and talking to as many locals as possible.
Alexis and Alexandra selected their favorite picks from the upcoming Interiors sale in New York for this month's Arbiters of Style feature. Let their choices inspire your own design ideas.