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For Josh Greene, Ultrasuede Is the Ultimate Secret Weapon Wallpaper

Words by Morgan Goldberg
a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo

Josh Greene’s knowledge of fabrics runs so deep, it could be its own masterclass.

So it makes sense that the New York City-based interior designer began his career in fashion as a textile market reporter. It fostered a fabric-first approach in Josh that he maintains to this day: “It still really drives me—I start all my rooms with a big pile of fabric swatches and rug samples.”

It’s also no surprise that Josh’s most recent success was fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra’s Hamptons house, which was featured in the September issue of Architectural Digest and graced the cover of AD Germany. The eight-bedroom home exhibits Josh’s knack for layered textiles and his signature tonal aesthetic with a cream-colored family room and a pink-hued living room that’s reportedly Joseph’s favorite.

When it comes to Josh’s own home, change is afoot. After two decades in Downtown Manhattan, he recently made his way uptown to a classic, pre-war apartment on the Upper East Side. His new place is all but guaranteed to include bold, monochrome spaces, tons of woven materials, and perhaps even some of his own product lines. Read all about his design secret weapons…

a bed with a blue and white bedspread next to a window
a white bath tub sitting in a bathroom next to a window

Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo

Photo by Ngoc Minh Ngo

What architectural era is inspiring you right now? Haussmannian Paris and West Coast modernism. I don't think I could ever choose just one—I’d like to bounce back and forth. Haussmannian Paris is so beautiful, classic, and stylish. It’s ornate and the proportions are flawless.

West Coast modernism is super streamlined, more relaxed, and just fresher, with less ornamentation. Both of them offer a relationship to nature, which I like a lot, but the two are very different. And I feel equally at home in both.

What’s your signature design move? Tonal rooms in offbeat colors.

If your design style was a fashion icon, who would it be? Dries Van Noten—everyone knows I’m a big fangirl—and Mark Hamill-era young Luke Skywalker. Dries is the best at mixing really interesting color combinations, different proportions, fabrics, and textures. I try to include similar unexpected combinations in my own work—depending on the client and the location, of course. It wouldn't have worked at Seth and Joseph's house, where everything is very neutral.

That’s where young Luke Skywalker comes into play. He wore deserty hues and creams; linens and loose, drapey clothes. I find it really relaxing to have a room that is all one color family. I do tonal a lot. It doesn't always have to be beige—I'm looking at a board right now in my office that's all a beautiful teal color—but there's a comfort and an ease that happens with monochrome moments.

What are you dying for a client to request? I would love to restore a midcentury masterpiece from the likes of Neutra or Buff and Hensman, or a Usonian house from Frank Lloyd Wright. I've always been into midcentury architecture, especially growing up in California. I like clean lines and organized structure. And I like the scale, especially in the later half of the movement when rooms got a little bit bigger. (In the fifties, a lot of modern homes were pretty tiny.)

a kitchen with a table and chairs in it

Photo by Shade Degges

What’s the most underrated material that you love? Ultrasuede! It’s cozy and sexy at the same time and comes in such a wide range of great colors. You can use Ultrasuede to upholster furniture or apply it on walls like wallpaper—like in Seth and Joseph’s bedroom. It creates such a nice texture that’s warmer than plaster or paint. It's a great little trick.

What design trend needs to be retired? Overly-curated living rooms that look like showrooms full of overpriced, uncomfortable furniture!

…And what should make a comeback? Dark, comfy, fully-upholstered, candle-lit rooms! Post-pandemic, people are going to be entertaining in their homes more. So when you design a place to host a beautiful meal or catch up with friends, it should be luxe and layered with upholstered walls or thick carpeting. Having a warm backdrop to foster meaningful connections is a luxury.

What should you always make custom? Window treatments. It is so important and makes the world of difference when you have an upholsterer that understands details and how fabrics should hang.

a bedroom with a large bed and a painting on the wall
a living room filled with furniture and a chandelier

Photo by Tim Lenz

Photo by Tim Lenz

What should you always buy vintage? Statement mirrors for powder rooms. There are so many interesting mirror frames out there. In your main, everyday bathroom, you want something more functional, but for your powder room you can have something with some patina and age to it. Powder rooms are used most during dinner parties and I usually design them for that purpose.

Where do you save and where do you splurge? I save on plain linens. I splurge on brocades. (Please put this on my tombstone.) There's so much plain fabric out there, so if you're going in that direction, you have a way bigger opportunity to find a material that isn't crazy expensive, versus something that has a really interesting print or embroidery or texture—that has to be really, really good.

What’s your go-to fabric? Anything from Zak + Fox, Glant, Pierre Frey, Dedar, and Kufri!

What makes a room feel cozy every time? A customized sectional sofa swathed in chenille. Chenille gets a bad rap. Some people have a negative reaction to it and I've never understood why. I grew up going to Palm Springs in the eighties where giant Michael Taylor-designed spaces were full of chunky chenille, which I find super relaxing.

I think about how I would plop down on a chenille sofa in a wet bathing suit and a towel when coming in from the pool—so for me, it always had very positive connotations. In my recent Rancho Mirage project, there's a room that's all cantaloupe-colored chenille and it’s where everybody wants to hang out. It's soft and it feels good on the skin.

a living room filled with furniture and a painting on the wall
a bathroom with a marble sink and mirror

Photo courtesy of Josh Greene

Photo courtesy of Josh Greene

What destination are you dying to visit again? St. Barths. I had never been and went by myself for a long weekend this past spring and it was Eden—a real escape. 

What do you collect? I have a collection of ceramics, from studio pottery by unknown artists to contemporary pieces by Cary Lockwood and vintage pieces by Quimper Faience. I’d love to add pieces by Makoto Kagoshima,Harvey Bouterse, and Wilhelm Kage to my assortment.

What’s next for you? I launched my first furniture collection in 2020 and really enjoyed the process of development and putting a collection together. I recently added medicine cabinets to the mix and just launched wallpaper. I have collaborations for rugs and fabric coming out in 2023. It turns out I very much enjoy creating products and am excited to see where all these things end up.

a man standing next to a chair in a room

Photo courtesy of Josh Greene

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