The Well Designed Life

Kyla Coburn

The acclaimed restaurant designer's interiors are the epitome of good taste

The Bay Magazine ·

As one of the most sought-after commercial designers in the region, Kyla Coburn is consistently charged with reinventing spaces and creating a business’ ever-critical aesthetic, but it’s not a role she ever planned on landing. “While the design field is a natural place for me to be working, it was never an original goal,” she confesses. “It’s a crossroads where psychology, art and business intersect, and for me, the overlap is interesting.” With a varied curriculum during her formal studies at Wesleyan, Brown and RISD, Kyla says her wanderlust and lineage has equally shaped the way she approaches design. “I lived and traveled internationally which has shaped my aesthetic, but growing up the child of RISD grad artists in the antique world has had the greatest impact.”

Crafting an identity for some of the most highly touted dining rooms in the region, Kyla approaches each design with a new set of eyes but armed with the basic fundamentals of what makes an interior connect with those experiencing it. “I do consistently like to see every detail considered, and I like an environment to feel rich – even if it’s minimal,” says Kyla. “The way a room is designed and feels is tremendously important to experiencing the space. People have a hard time really enjoying good food under florescent lights, or seated near a bathroom door. For me, along with great music and amazing food, beauty in our surroundings is part of what makes people present in their lives. I like to help create that, regardless of the particular theme of the room.”

These are the elements that Kyla asks a client to consider when thinking long-term identity. Edge is good, but longevity is paramount. Though always a collaboration, Kyla concedes that an important part of her work is to get clients to step away from attachment to specific things, like a favorite color. “We work hard to help clients pare down the raw elements of what they really want and need from a space,” she says. “People think hiring a designer is a splurge, or a service reserved for the aesthetically impaired, but seeing a computer rendering a poorly chosen paint job before having paid the crew to do it is a budget saver. We provide design, not ‘decorating,’ and the deliverables of that product are very real. Investing in making the best use of space, flow, and function for one’s home or business through design is like wanting your car to get great gas mileage and look good.”

Juggling projects with such a spectrum of visual interpretation makes it challenging for the designer to define her personal aesthetic in her East Providence home. “[It] is hard to pinpoint because the way a room feels is almost always determined by other people’s hopes for the space,” she says, but interesting finds are sometimes her greatest inspiration. “I like the hunt for good deals and unusual things.” Kyla cautions homeowners from creating the design of a space from any one place or catalog. “The personality of a room should look collected and developed, like the personality of its owner.” 

Kyla Coburn, designer, interior design, art, home, The Bay,