We know it when we see it: that visual signature that makes a space stand apart from the pack. Be it bold color themes or iconic accents, if an interior is unforgettable, chances are the person behind it wasn’t afraid to leave their style mark. Distinctive is instinctive — and it’s easier than you might think to wake up your design instincts to create a space that’s unmistakably yours.
Designer, artist, and photographer Dabito is about as distinctive as they come. Known for his confident use of color, shapes, and art, Dabito creates spaces that draw you in and leave you inspired, each with a signature shine. Who else do you know with a green-on-green kitchen?
“Distinctive design tells a unique story,” he says. “It’s bold. It’s a celebration of color, life, old and new, nature, and lots of personality.”
At our 2021 Small/Cool Experience — a design event packed with incredible designers, the latest trends, and amazing tips and tricks — Dabito sat down with Apartment Therapy founder and CEO Maxwell Ryan to talk about distinctive design. It’s a concept that’s also central to Genesis, the official auto sponsor of this year’s event, whose cars are iconic down to the last detail.
We asked Dabito about how to nurture our senses of style to create more distinctive spaces — and he told us about his favorite furniture for making a statement.
Why is it important to be distinctive?
We’re all creative individuals with lots of stories to share. We should celebrate our uniqueness.
How does someone find their sense of style?
I think flea markets are one of the best places to help you find your style and discover unique things from all over the world. I also tell people to dig deep and get personal. Ask yourself: What are some of your fondest memories or favorite stories from your family?
What’s a good design element to start with?
I always like to start with a color. Think about how you want to apply it — walls, sofa, rug, pillows — then gradually build around that color. I love choosing pieces that have interesting shapes, materials, and patterns. I also love to incorporate objects from my family, friends, and travels that represent who I am and where I’ve been.
How can people ensure their spaces are unique and distinctive?
Think of decorating your space like celebrating your life. Fill it with objects that are meaningful and personal. Use colors that remind you of people, places, or things. Fill it with stories that remind you of your journey, history, and culture.
You have an amazing eye for color. What are some unexpected ways to add color and texture to your space that aren’t painting the wall?
Artworks are a great way to add color and personality to a space. I can’t get enough of gallery walls. They add so much visual interest in a space. And you know I’m all about a statement sofa, too. It’s a great way to use color and create a bold look. Wallpaper is another fantastic way to add color and texture. Instead of painting a wall, how about painting your ceilings a fun color? Baseboards and trims can be an unexpected way to add color and dimension to a space, too.