Robert Passal's Passion for Interior Design Stems From Unlikely Place

Robert Passal began his career working for antiques dealer John Roselli, which served as both his design boot camp and graduate school for design. Passal, who opened his own interior design firm in 2000, credits his time with Roselli as being a “hands-on tutorial” in furniture, interior design, and decorative arts. “I think I really had a fantastic learning experience with John. I learned a lot about all sorts of antiques. He dealt mostly in English-Continental and French antiques, and I was so excited to learn about them,” says Passal.

This wasn’t, however, his first venture into the world of antiquing. “I would go to flea markets with my mom and I always bought some little trinket,” says Passal. “As I got a little bit older, I was fascinated by mercury glass, and my passion just grew to larger furnishings.”

Now, in his own business, Passal often incorporates antiques into his designs. He frequently combines contemporary with vintage and antique pieces. “In order to do it correctly and to make the most impact, I consider two things. For one thing, contrasting elements create visual interest. Let’s say you like a chrome and glass piece — a modern dining table; I would pair it with Louis XV French chairs or a large Louis oval-back chair or round-back chair with peeling paint. It’s all about the contrast," says Passal.

Although contrast is important, it isn’t the only crucial element to consider according to Passal, “I think when you’re using opposing pieces, the scale needs to be correct. It needs to be similar. Let’s say if you have two chairs facing your living room sofa, the scale needs to be similar in order for it to work well.”

For people looking to get into antiques Passal recommends doing your research. “First, buy a decorative piece that looks fantastic in your space; second, buy an investment piece. If you are buying things or items that you feel are collectible or valuable, or you know you’re paying a good price for them, I think you should research them,” says Passal. “It’s so easy right now to get on eBay or to get on 1stDibs to see what things cost.”

But don’t feel that you have to be a big spender to get in the game. “I’m a firm believer in buying what you like on every level, whether it’s fashion, art, or furnishings.” And, you never know you might discover at your local flea market. Visit to learn more.

Gail Doby

Gail Doby is an author, international speaker, interior designer and small business consultant. She is co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of Design Success University, a global continuing education university for professional interior designers. As seen on CNBC, Reuter's, Luxe Magazine, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, K+BB, Interior Design Online, Decorati and Ava Living. ...(Read More)

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