Designer Q&A with Celerie Kemble

Interior designer Celerie Kemble celebrates midcentury modern design and a love of entertaining in the dining room she created at the Christopher Kennedy Compound Show House, which just debuted at Palm Springs Modernism Week. As big fans of her designs, we’re excited to share our Q&A with Celerie.

Palm Springs Style (PSS): What was your inspiration behind the Christopher Kennedy Compound dining room’s aesthetic?

Celerie Kemble (CK): My starting point was the color palette. Growing up in the tropics, the desert is not my natural habitat, so I sought to bring water to the desert. The colors of the room are what I imagine might emerge after a desert rainstorm. The parched terrain would be carpeted in new growth. The end result is a room awash in golden hues and sagey greens with a few pops of desert florals.

PSS: What are your must-have elements when designing a dining room? 

CK: Every dining room needs three things, comfortable seating, flattering lighting, and places to display the accoutrements of entertaining whether or not they are in use.

Lighting is of paramount importance, because it sets the mood. I opted to use my own lights from Arteriors in this space.  I designed these pieces to have perforations in the metal for a dappling effect. This creates a dimensionally dynamic light that makes guests look their most beautiful.

PSS: Can you tell us about the pieces featured in your Christopher Kennedy Compound design?

CK: My room featured a number of pieces from my collection for Arteriors including the Bisger Pendants/Sconces and Astral Sconces/Floor Lamp. The room also features Barbana Chairs, the Truman Mirror and the Tinsley bar cart all from Arteriors.

I designed the Bisger pendants and sconces to be mixed and matched exactly as I am using them in this room. I hope that this will inspire designers to mix and match the Bisger pendants in their own projects too. 

As I mentioned above, when I designed the Astral sconces and floor lamps in addition to creating something that created shadow play through the perforated sides, I am also always trying to bring light to a variety of heights in a room, which both of these fixtures do.

PSS: Do you have any favorite places to visit when you’re in Palm Springs?

CK: I stay at the Sparrows Lodge when I am in Palm Springs and it always delights me. 

PSS: What other fun projects are in the works right now?

CK: I’ve just started to shoot projects for my third book which I hope will publish in Fall of 2020.  We’re also working on the redecoration of a beloved and historic New England hotel which I am very excited about.   

Tours of the Christopher Kennedy Compound continue through February 24; tickets are available at

Photography by Karyn Millet.

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