For interior designer and textile artist Mally Skok, fabric can be the jumping off point for an entire room. “I call it my road map,” she says, “to tell the story going forward. Perhaps a client has inherited a fine rug, for example; you want to pull out more of that theme and go in whatever direction it takes you.”
Skok’s own journey began in South Africa where she was born, then to London (and a first marriage), and ultimately to Massachusetts in the 1990s. “I ended up here, with my new husband and two little kids, and everyone’s home was so empty,” says Skok, “I started to help my friends, advising them, taking them to Decorex, and it just grew.”
Based west of Boston in Lincoln, Mally Skok Design serves both residential and commercial clients with a creative blend of traditional and contemporary elements. “I love to layer patterns and textures. In English and French decoration, multiple patterns mean you have really paid attention to detail and haven’t skimped on a project.”
Sometimes her New England clients are worried that things will be too busy. “If a room is austere with just one orange pillow on a sofa, your eyes go there, but then where do they go after that?” she explains. “A multilayered room, with a nice rug, wall cover, and different patterned chairs actually has a calming effect, because there are many places for your eyes to rest.” Skok recommends being open to a variety of stripes and patterns: “They are not as daunting if you start with something you love, because then you are starting from a lovely and positive situation.”
Skok herself is always experimenting and using inspiration from her own life in her design work. She traveled to India with her sister, who encouraged her to begin designing her own fabrics. “It seemed so unattainable,” says Skok, “but I knew I just had to be absolutely myself. So I began to paint my own version of Indian block prints.”
With the support and guidance of her friend and renowned fabric designer Peter Fasano, she launched a fabric and wallpaper line in 2009 that now features nearly 100 fabrics and 40 wallpaper designs.
As a native South African, Skok, who leads wine and design trips to Cape Town for other interior designers, is energized to see so many African fabrics commanding attention. “Design in South Africa is so hip and full of color and a lot of us designers are really taking note,” she contends.
She also believes that what she calls “real interiors” are coming back. “It is so important that your surroundings tell your life story,” says Skok. “And authenticity is the chicest thing you can show in your home.”
Text by Lisa Cavanaugh | Images courtesy Mally Skok Design