‘You could call me a provider of beauty,’ says Venezuelan-born interior specialist Carlos Mota. ‘I don’t want to be limited by a title – I love beauty and I love to share it with people who are happy to pay for it,’ he continues with a gravelly laugh.
A Renaissance man, Carlos has worked in many fields since he arrived in New York City in the 80’s. From cutting his teeth with interior designer Perucho Valls of the firm Siskin Valls, he moved into window design for Madison Avenue’s swankiest stores before segueing into magazine styling – first in fashion and then landing in interiors.
A decade long stint at Elle Décor was followed by an International Style Editor position at Architectural Digest.
Alongside his editorial work, Carlos has brought his inimitable style to the homes of the rich and famous – many of whom have become close friends and guests at his infamous at-home soirées.
‘I’m very Latin, I’m very loud and colourful and I love layers,’ he explains. ‘I love to have an element of surprise with my styling – whether it’s an amazing flower arrangement or putting a sculpture on a pedestal to make it look like 10ft high. You know my famous hashtag is 'beige is not a colour.’ I really believe that as a philosophy.’
While bright, bold and life affirming, Carlos’ work, recently celebrated with a weighty Assouline coffee table tome entitled A Touch of Style, is elegant and never de trop. ‘I do think taste is something you are born with,’ he says, ‘I believe that people can be born really chic and elegant from really humble beginnings or they can come from a lot of money and have zero taste.’ Through the pages of the book you get an insight into his confidants' homes—including Pierre Bergé's Normandy home and Giambattista Valli’s Parisian apartment – as well as an idea of his peripatetic lifestyle, zigzagging the globe.
For Carlos, a consciousness of style was something that he experienced from an early age. ‘I can remember being really young—maybe 6 or 7—and being aware of my house, of colour, and of having things in the right place. For me it has always been instinctual and I have always, always been curious.’
Growing up minutes from the sea, his middle class childhood was characterised, he says, by ‘long days in the ocean. I was born in the late 60’s and most of my young life was spent outdoors in nature or on beautiful beaches.’ Carlos credits his mother with opening the doors to the creative world: ‘My mother painted and did ceramics in a casual way while I was growing up,’ he explains, ‘there were always art books around the house, so she really led me to my artistic side.’
When it comes to ambitions, Mota says it’s all about creative legacy. ‘I would love to write another book. I think the biggest compliment is when people remember you for something – because you were really talented or you wrote a book or did a great painting. With my books [he also authored Flowers Cheap and Chic in 2010] I know that in 20 years from now people may still be looking at my work, and to me that’s an accomplishment.’
Until then Carlos will continue to rack up the air miles while sharing his flair for beauty across the globe. ‘The best school for style is the school of travelling. Beauty is everywhere, you just have to look for it.’