10 Things You Didn’t Know about Billy Cotton

Billy Cotton

Billy Cotton is a highly recognized name in interior design and has a diverse concept of home decor. Cotton originally studied design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, and by 2005, this very talented designer began crafting his own pieces, from furniture to other interior design elements. Cotton is a member of the AD 100, and his comprehension of eclectic styles that he infuses into rooms has made him a highly sought after designer for a very elite clientele. You may be familiar with this designer’s work, but here are 10 things you didn’t know about Billy Cotton.

1. His first creations were made in an unconventional place

Artists and designers have to get their start somewhere, just like most any other career field out there. Think about all the bands you’ve heard about that will tell you where they got their beginnings. Some may say a basement, a garage, or maybe an old hole-in-the-wall bar down the road. They may say sound like meager beginnings, but they also make sense. Even for furniture designers, it would make sense to hear them say they started designing their pieces out of their home garage, but have you ever heard of a designing your furniture out of a denture factory? Now you have, because that is where Cotton began crafting his and it was those pieces that he built his portfolio with and grew it from there.

2. His dinnerware is what launched him

Cotton has launched a number of different lines of designs that started to stand out and get noticed, from lighting to furniture pieces, but he gives credit to his line of dinnerware that ‘really took off,’ according to him, and it was being carried by Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, among other high-end stores that helped to really get it launched. Cottons says it was after his dinnerware line that he really started to focus on interior design, which soon followed suit and took-off in its own right.

3. He’s worked with numerous young artists

Cotton is proud of all the names he’s been associated with. He’s been fortunate to work with some very talented young artists and he has named several that stand out to him, including, Margaret Lee, Annabel Mehran, Mirabelle Marden, among many others. He’s also had the good fortune, in his business, to be able to work on home renovation projects for some, one of which was Cindy Sherman. He was asked to renovate a 19-th century farmhouse in East Hampton and it’s one of his most memorable.

4. He filled his parents’ home with his collections

Parents can be some of the most supportive people when it comes to your life and career, and for Cotton, his have been extremely supportive, to the degree that they wanted their son to totally renovate their old 19th-century Vermont home with all of his designs. Cotton’s parents’ home is full of his personal design pieces and he discusses how he filled every one of their home’s rooms with pieces that turn old rooms into warm, cozy spaces for them.

5. He never intended to get into design as a career

Although Cotton always had a love of design, he says he never really intended to make a career of it. As a matter-of-fact, he wasn’t good in school at all, he has said. When he reached college age, he blew it off and headed to Paris where he found odd work, working at a flea market and translating purchase deals for customers and dealers. After some time, Cotton left Paris and made his way to New York where he did attend classes at Hunter College, studying Russian History, and later he learned furniture and lighting design at the Pratt Institute and began putting his creativity and knowledge to work for him.

6. He has a most treasured possession, and it’s not a piece of art or furniture

Of all the amazing pieces Cotton has designed, created and collected, you might think his most prized possession would be a piece of art, a piece of furniture, maybe even a car. But none of anything he’s designed stands out and matters to him as much as one thing in his life, and that’s a letter from his mother that he still keeps. He boasts how he ‘would be nothing without her,’ and that must make his mother so proud to hear!

7. His favorite room in the house isn’t the kitchen

There are a lot of people who will probably tell you the kitchen is their favorite room in the home, and for many reasons. It’s the hub of most every home. It’s full of warm, inviting aromas and reminds you of family holidays and meals. While that may certainly be true, that it is all those things to Cotton, too, he doesn’t name the kitchen as his most favorite room in the home. For him, it’s the dining room where you eat the meals. He says it’s because the dining room is the room that is the center of conversation and that no one should forgo the formal dining room in their homes and in their lives.

8. He’s probably best known for his lighting fixtures

Of all the designs and areas of design Cotton has worked in, creating beautiful pieces for homes, it is his lighting designs that are probably what he’s known best for. He admits to an obsession with lighting fixtures and creating pieces that are memorable and meaningful. He loves to use geometric shapes, and one fine example is his Pick-Up-Stick chandelier that he introduced in 2008, and it was an immediate sensation. Cotton was quoted as saying this, about his interesting lighting design, “I think it has an emotional, physical effect on our lives and how we do things.”

9. His designs are influenced by dual eras

Cotton doesn’t base his designs off just one particular idea or even one era. As a matter-of-fact, he has two main eras that he uses as inspiration. The two era influences he speaks of are the Regency era and the Bauhaus era. The two are totally different, yet he has the ability to subtly incorporate the two in one space to give the room a bit of a modern touch. He also claims that because they are two different types of designs, he further separates them by keeping them as two different businesses with two entirely different sets of staff to oversee them.

10. His home is a replica of one he grew up in

You might think that someone like Billy Cotton might design a home for himself with all the newest and latest trends, however, Cotton is one who likes to keep close to his roots, down to the home he, himself, lives in. When asked if he lived in a home that was similar to the one he grew up in, he quickly answered, ‘yes.’ He describes his home as a 70’s era home that he has decorated with early American antiques, giving it a beautiful mixture of eras and impeccable balance.


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