R5 Rising Stars in Design and Architecture: Hong Molitor-Xu

The Sketch Artist

Hong Molitor-Xu received an associate degree with high honors from NYSID last May. (She also has an MBA and a degree in civil engineering.) She is currently working at Drake Design Associates in Manhattan.

How does your engineering background relate to interior design? There is a Chinese philosophy: Everything comes back to the starting point. As a child, I loved to draw, but I never had any formal training. Engineering taught me how to look at space in three dimensions. Then, while renovating our home in Rye, I discovered my sketches were the best way to describe to the architect exactly what I wanted.
Influential Designer? Albert Hadley. His book Drawing and the Design Process showed how he transformed his vision into two dimensions.
How do you start a design project? I close my eyes to see the space before I do anything. Then I start sketching. It’s a powerful way to express ideas. Now, I’m known for my sketches.
What is the benchmark of success? Creating an unforgettable mood.
What’s the most unusual inspiration you’ve had? An orange Gucci dress with geometric patterns inspired a classroom assignment. People’s wardrobes can tell you a lot about them. They’ll tell you a certain outfit made them feel happy, upbeat, or fashionable. It’s a way to create a mood in the design.
Do you have a design philosophy? Interior design is more than a combination of fabric, textures, styles, and furniture. You have to envision how everything relates in a three-dimensional space. Otherwise, you’re just a collector.

A class assignment to design an apartment was inspired by an orange Gucci dress; the designer had been a stay-at-home mom before the gut renovation and decoration of her family’s Rye home.