Soul man

Patrick Mele is a self-described “old soul but with a young, fresh spirit and a new pep in his step.” And that translates into how he feels about people and interior design.

Though still relatively young on the birth certificate — he presented a boyish mien when we met at his booth at the “Greenwich Winter Antiques Show” Dec. 6 — Mele has been in design for some 20 years, beginning with a window-dressing business he established when he was a 14-year-old student at Greenwich High School. Ultimately, his clients would include many Greenwich Avenue retailers. 

“My father had restaurants (in Fairfield and Westchester counties) and was in retail. He designed these restaurants,” Mele says of his dad, Richard, who is perhaps best known for 64 on the Avenue.

On the day we call Mele’s Greenwich store to set up the interiew, his father answers, minding the phone for his wife, Patricia, who runs the 500-square-foot lifestyle shops, which includes a design business. 

“They had a passion for making their home a home” — something they’ve passed on to their son, whose tastes run to “warm, inviting color palettes, classical lines and brown furnishings. …Those were the homes I grew up with.” Indeed, he discusses brown furnishings in a four-page spread on a Pelham house whose interiors he designed in Carl Dellatore’s “On Style:  Inspiration and Advice From the New Generation of Interior Design,” which Rizzoli published last September. Mele is also featured in Architectural Digest’s Star Power issue this month, along with a flat he did on historic Cheyne Walk in London’s Chelsea section, “using lots of heirlooms and new pieces.” The Cheyne Walk apartment typifies Mele’s approach to style.

“I love decorating and I love making people feel great,” he says. “Everyone can’t wait to get home at the end of the day.”

And since our homes are our castles, they should reflect us and not some cookie-cutter approach or trend, he says.

“I love homes that have a true identity and feel. If it’s pure glass and chrome, that’s great.”

But Modernism and Minimalism aren’t for every personality, says Mele, who also doesn’t believe in trends for trends’ sake.

“I’m one who believes in following your gut in fashion and home design. Those who follow trends end up looking tired and dated.”

Instead, Mele focuses on an individual approach, one that mixes periods, materials and bold colors. His shop, which he opened in 2017, is a perfect example, with its blend of vintage and new, metals, glass and wood and jewel colors in lighting, mirrors, furnishings, art, jewelry, fabrics and even fragrances for trade and retail culled from his travels around the world.

Mele honed this eclecticism at Syracuse University, where he studied environmental design, and at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, from which he graduated with a degree in art history and cultural studies. While at Syracuse, he was assigned to squire around visiting design luminaries, including the late Kate Spade and husband Andy. He would intern with the couple for four years.

“Spade was my first hands-on experience in New York City, the real start of my education in the world of fashion and design,” Mele told Connecticut magazine in August 2018, two months after Kate’s suicide. “Kate’s innate ability to intermingle the two definitely impacted me…. Kate was old school, old world. She valued genteel environments and people. To have spent time with her was a gift.”

Mele has credited his internship with the Spades with leading to his full-time job with Ralph Lauren, where he worked in the home division of the company’s flagships in the United States and Europe. He has also worked for the New York-based fragrance house Bond No. 9; Schumacher, which creates products for interior designers; and the jeweler David Yurman. Mele launched his eponymous design business in 2011.

Whether he’s working on a project in Bedford or St. Barts, Mele believes in a form of conspicuous consumption. When he travels to homes in Europe, he says he notices that “stuff is out” — books line shelves; antiques are on display.

In the end, living in a home means living with the things you love. “Build your home piece by piece, little by little. And do it forever. It will give it a timeless quality.

“And use your stuff. Life goes by so quickly. A china cup and saucer has such a lovely feeling.”

For more, visit patrickmele.com.

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