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Bill Rooney

As many designers do, Bill Rooney knew he wanted to be in the design world from a young age. “I did everything normal as a child. Then, things would bore me and I would build myself. I made my own toys out of wood and different things,” he said. 

“I come from upstate, near Saratoga,” he continued. “It was a dream in high school to work and live in New York City. I’m still excited by it today.” Now, he is founder and president of Bill Rooney Studios, Inc., located in Manhattan’s Union Square West. The firm specializes in hospitality and residential interior design.

New York remains an inspiration for Rooney, who noted, “The energy is captivating.” 

After high school, he earned a degree from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and began his career in the field of architecture. 

When he began with hotels, design became his focus. What captivated him about design was the experiential significance that it brings to a client or guest. “What I realized is, from an interior point of view, everything in the interior is where the experience begins and ends,” he said. 

Rooney finds inspiration in “the broadening experience of travel and the diversity in terms of the project you get to be involved with.” Fine art, older and antique furniture, textiles and fashion are other sources of inspiration. But, it’s also his vision as a designer that breeds inspiration for the specific projects he works on. “I consider myself a tailor in that my style relates to the context,” he said. 

When it comes to his design asthetic, he noted, “I don’t use a broad range of color, but when I do it’s very concise and confident. I do use texture.” 

He was drawn to the texture of Phillip Jeffries’ collection of wallcoverings (5). Rooney used the textured coverings in one project’s bathroom. “It’s a custom vinyl the company did for us based on an existing pattern it has called Rivets,” he said. He described the pattern as having an industrial quality: “You could say it’s heritage meets industrial.” 

Rooney described various aspects of his design portfolio as a juxtaposition of modern and heritage. He enjoys the combination of refinement and simplicity found in Dessin Fournir’s Cascade Chair (4). “It’s a premium product, but it’s a great one,” he explained. 

For additional texture in a room, Rooney uses carpets (2) like those from Merida Studio. He explained that the carpet, shown in flint, “adds interest and texture to a floor where it can still remain calm and soothing to the walls. Something about it is very handsome. You can picture it on someone’s jacket,” he said of the exposed stitching. “I like the idea of finding how something is stitched and using it as an inspiration.”

To add casual sophistication to the ceiling in one of his current projects, Rooney selected Guilded Gold Leaf Burlap (3) by Michael Glickman. Rooney noted, “Because it’s burlap, when you can illuminate it on a ceiling, it’s so effective. It becomes so alive because of the crevices and deep texture in the linen.”

“We create a story, a mood, a design road map with every design we do,” said Rooney, who considers this Kallista faucet (1) “a ‘new, fresh classic’… It says luxury and refinement with its streamlined design.”—Katherine Klahn