James Swan

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Episode 364: Christina Roughan

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Interior designer Christina Roughan experienced the earliest stirrings of the career that was to come as a child growing up in central Massachusetts. Resourceful and creative, she would canvass the neighborhood seeking playmates with whom she could stage variety shows on picnic tables, using old draperies and dresses from her mother’s closet.


“Even at that age I loved glamorous things, things that sparkled, exquisite details,” she says. “I enjoyed making things pretty.”


At 10, she took her show indoors, rearranging the furniture in her bedroom – moving the bed, re-locating the mirror and bulletin board — and alternating between periods when her four-poster was covered in its 1960s pale lemon-yellow and orange canopy, and when it was not. Once she even rearranged the furniture in her parents’ living room.


So it was no surprise, when, after college and a course of study at the Paris Fashion Institute (during which she admired textiles as well as fashion), working in retail boutiques and antique shops during college summers, and years poring over the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, her application to work as an intern in creative services at Ralph Lauren was accepted. Her job was a textile junkie’s dream come true:  archiving and cataloging the fabrics, silhouettes, and ornamentations of vintage garments – a Lucite button, a Civil War waistcoat — for use as inspiration by designers in forthcoming designs.


Little did the young part-time archivist (who was moonlighting as a window dresser at the much heralded Galleries Lafayette and polishing her skills at Parsons) know that she had already put her grand career plan in motion?


From that position she went on to spend a total of 10 years at Ralph Lauren on and off, part of the time in-house in Polo Stores Development and part of the time as a consultant overseeing the launch and installation of RRL stores throughout the United States, while working as the head of her first eponymous firm, Sullivan Design. Among her other  responsibilities for Ralph Lauren were the international launch of Polo Jeans in Israel and throughout Asia, and the installation of the RL store at The Greenbrier in West Virginia and the RL Men’s store in Southampton.


And there was another twist in the plot. While she was still consulting at Ralph Lauren, a long-time mentor came calling. She had a high-profile client in need of a redecoration. Roughan, who was still Sullivan at the time, took on the project and it led not only to several more luxury residential projects, but also retail showrooms for Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Takashimaya.


In between these pursuits, Roughan was recruited by Tommy Hilfiger to serve as the Visual Director of Store Design, designing and implementing eight free-standing stores, monthly window changeovers, and showrooms.


Still shy of 27, the up-and-coming designer made a bold decision. Intent on expanding her business she took on a business partner for the next 12 years.   Upon moving her main headquarters to CT she formed Roughan, Inc in 2010.   Her work encompasses high-end residential commissions in the Hamptons; New York City; Fairfield County, Connecticut; Palm Beach, Florida; Telluride, Colorado; Nantucket, Ma; London, Oceania Cruise Lines and Starwood.


Roughan’s work is marked by its timeless sophistication, its mixing of mid-century, antique furnishings and select objects and art, and its deft combinations of texture and subtle color. Roughan has been featured in Interior Design, House Beautiful, Elle Décor, CT Cottages & Gardens, Greenwich Magazine,  AtHome and East Coast Home, among other publications. She has also been profiled in Andrew Martin’s Design Review Volume[s] 10, 13, 14 and most recently Volume 20.


“I always say that my favorite part of the job is the installation, when everything comes together and we bring a home to life,” she says. “But then my other favorite part is seeing the big smile on the client’s face when they see it for the first time. That is one of the happiest moments.”


Christina Roughan lives with her husband and two daughters in a 200-year-old house in Weston, which is, no surprise, in a constant state of renovation.


Explore Christina’s Website here


Add Christina’s book recommendation, Grace: A Memoir, to your home library by clicking here

Grace - A Memoir


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