with John Cialone

Check out all of the Designer’s Take series HERE.

Why are people drawn to Earth Tones?

I love neutrals. I like them as building blocks and as a foil for other things – whether for texture, color or other design elements. They’re easy to live with long term. Where you need to be careful is when everything is the same hue. There’s no contrast and design can get boring quickly. The addition of other tones, textures and colors is an easy way to give punch to an otherwise neutral space.

(Left to Right) ICreate, Kravet; Naked Chevron/European Oak/Cosmopolitan Collection, Divine Flooring; Albero Table Lamp (#3137), Paul Ferrante

What are the key features of the neutral theme?

#1: Texture is everything. I can’t wait to touch them. The textiles look soft, like you want to lay on them. And I’m not a big lay-on-the-carpet kind of guy. The same is true of the hardware. It’s screaming to be held and looks cool to the touch, like great jewelry.

#2: Contrast is super important, too. In every photo here we’re seeing high contrast, whether that’s smooth and rough; white and tan, etc.

#3: Simplicity keeps it clean. It’s pleasant to live in earth tones. They’re soothing, sophisticated and chic. 

What words come to mind on viewing New Traditionalist?




Layers of Multiple Materials

(Left to Right) Maven, Scott Group Studio; Joseph Giles Makes English, Contemporary, Katonah Architectural Hardware • Lighting • Furniture (Floor 1); Victoria Hagan Collection, The Shade Store

Do you see these neutrals evolving?

These fall into the warm tones. And warm tones are always timeless. The way to make them feel evolved is to bring in more color and texture.

Give us an anecdote that speaks to your history.

When I was in college, I was studying business and I used to sit in a room with few windows. I would think if the class were laid out in a different way with a circle of chairs around the professor and the wall was glass, it would invite natural light and a view. I didn’t know it was biophilic design at the time. But, that was one of my first indications that I would be good at this and was interested in design.

Do you have a design perspective?

I would definitely say I’m a client-centric interior designer. And I believe in that. I like the excitement of working with different clients who have different needs for their lifestyles. One of the fun things I get to do with every project is reinvent myself through the eyes of my clients. That’s powerful to me. The commonality is everything is comfortable and ultimately make sense – if there’s a table it’s going to be where it is because you’re going to put your drink on it.

Where is design headed?

There are so many things that I’m interested in right now. I think biophilic design is one of them. The idea that we should do everything possible to bring the outside in and have natural elements surround us is so important. It doesn’t have to be overt. It doesn’t have to be a wall of plants in your house, or doors that open to the outside. Some things aren’t possible. It may start with abundant natural light and fresh air. So many things are important to healthy living and wellness. Also, I expect to see way more touchless technology. There’s a day not too far away where light switches will be gone. Why do we need a wall of switches when it can all be done verbally?

About John: John Cialone is Partner and Vice President at Chicago-based Tom Stringer Design Partners. With over twenty-five years of experience, he is a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and is currently serving on the ASID National Board of Directors. John’s enthusiasm for promoting the interior design industry is contagious.

John Cialone

Tom Stringer Design Parnters