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Interviews

How David Ko Blends Interior Design With Fashion — And Keeps His Skin Glowing

by theSKIN

• By theSKIN

Instagram: @maison.ko is my work, @davidsamuelko is my personal.
Location: Los Angeles
Astrological Sign: Aries sun, Scorpio moon, Taurus rising
Book that changed your life: Zen And the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss
Beauty product (or treatment) that changed your skin: Microneedling and custom prescription cream from Dr. Nancy Samolitis
Podcast you can’t stop listening to: More Than One Thing with Athena Calderone
Instagram account you love to follow: @somewheremagazine

Have you ever met someone who was truly born to do what they do? That’s David Ko, founder of interior design firm Maison Ko to a T. His natural talent for blending interior design with fashion has attracted some high profile clients (he’s part of the team behind Hilary Duff’s gorgeous Beverly Hills remodel!) and for good reason. With his charming and stylish designs, he’s definitely one to watch. We got the chance to chat with David about having fun with design, his approach to beauty and style, and how he keeps his skin looking so good.

TS

How did you get into interior design, and what led you to found Maison Ko?

DK

I got into interior design pretty unintentionally honestly. I always loved decorating my room and house, and my parents’ friends would have me help them with their Christmas decorations and stuff like that. When I went to college, I would make sure my dorm rooms were in tip-top shape, then same with future apartments. But I was never exposed to “interior design” and no one I knew had an interior designer. I had the knack for it, more so, it was something I just loved to do, but I didn’t think of it as a career path. The summer after college, I had difficulty finding a job and a friend that was working for a design firm asked if I had any interest in meeting with the designers and helping with a few upcoming projects. I met with the designers and flash forward: I worked for them for almost three years. There I learned the ins and outs of the industry and was able to wear so many different hats and work on a variety of projects. I was also able to find my own style and appreciation for design. Upon my departure, I had a stint at another design firm and after that I began building my own clientele for small projects. After that, I decided to take a leap of faith and start Maison Ko.
david ko

TS

One of the things that’s unique about Maison Ko is that your firm ties together interior design and fashion — how do you make that happen in your projects?

DK

When designing a space, I like to think of it like you would putting together an outfit. You’re working with different shapes, textures, colors, and layers — one just so happens to involve a 50 lb chair! With that in mind, I like to push the envelope a little bit when it comes to how all of those elements come together. Just like my style, I want to be forward thinking and ahead of the trends. I also aim to try and get my clients to not feel so tied to furniture for their entire life, and to be a little more open to the idea of cycling out pieces. Just like you would invest in a new Chanel bag for a new season, why can’t you do the same with a piece of furniture that costs just about the same? Having the mindset that your space can be ever-evolving and changing with your style and needs is one thing I love about design, and having clients that are on board with that is an even greater blessing.

TS

What’s your favorite interior design tip?

DK

Always double check your measurements, tape out furniture if you’re unsure about sizing, and remember that comfort is key.
david ko

TS

How did you develop your own personal sense of style?

DK

I think my own sense of style developed as a result of trying to dress cool while still maintaining my school’s strict dress code. I went to private schools and there was a list of things we could and could not wear. I made it my job to put together outfits that were stylish but wouldn’t get me in trouble. That’s how I think my love for fashion began, but it really came to be from just seeing what people in magazines, blogs, and on Instagram were wearing and figuring out how to make that outfit my own. I don’t look at clothing as being for a specific gender — I have a very unisex sense of style and look to all genders for inspiration.

TS

What does your personal beauty and skincare routine consist of?

DK

A lot, but it’s surprisingly consistent. I have very sensitive and easily irritated skin, so I don’t like to introduce new products into my routine often. If I do, I always do a skin test and check the ingredients to see if there is anything that my skin may not like. I have a different routine for morning and for night, and I really listen to what my skin needs (specifically at night). Key ingredients I use in my skincare are vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, tretinoin, niacinamide, physical and chemical exfoliants, and of course SPF! I like to workout 5 days a week so I drink a ton of water which definitely helps. My beauty routine is also pretty simple, but since I get PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation), concealer is my best friend. I mix a few shades, then set it with powder. I like to apply highlighter on my cheek bones for a night out, and if I’ve been in the sun, a little blush on my nose. I also like clear mascara for my lashes and either a brow gel or wax to shape and fill my brows. I mix in bronzing drops with my moisturizer to give my skin a little extra glow. Everything I do beauty-wise is to enhance what is already there — I go for a natural, no makeup makeup look.

TS

What does your facial hair routine consist of?

DK

I don’t grow a lot of facial hair but since my hair is black and coarse, it is very noticeable. I shave every two to three days using a simple razor and Dr. Bronner’s Shaving Soap. Because I tend to get ingrown hairs, I like to exfoliate using a scrub the night before I plan to shave.
david ko

Just like you would invest in a new Chanel bag for a new season, why can’t you do the same with a piece of furniture?

TS

What’s the one treatment or product that changed your skin?

DK

It’s a twofer. Dr. Samolitis at Facile Dermatology + Boutique prescribed me a customized prescription cream that’s a personalized cocktail of amazing ingredients (mainly tretinoin) and that has really helped manage my breakouts and evened out my skin tone. I don’t break out a ton, but as I mentioned I get PIH, so when I do have a breakout or a cyst I am always left with a dark spot. So the goal for me is to try and limit breakouts so I never scar. On top of that, Dr. Sam recommended I try microneedling, which is seriously a game changer. My skin texture is overall so much better (I’ve done three sessions in the last 10 months) — my pore size has decreased, and old scars that lingered have gone away. The combination of these two treatments has made me finally feel consistently comfortable with my skin.

TS

What’s the biggest male beauty myth?

DK

That men can’t be considered masculine and wear makeup. I don’t think there is anything wrong with men using a little concealer or tinted moisturizer. Do what makes you feel comfortable. Men should be able to care about the way they look.

TS

What is your go-to ritual when you want to treat yourself?

DK

A facial or massage. It’s really the only time where I feel completely detached and relaxed. 
david ko

TS

What’s a typical morning like for you?

DK

A typical morning for me consists of waking up at 8am, drinking a glass of water before I have my morning coffee (either black that I make at home or an almond latte that I pick up), washing my face and doing my morning skincare, then checking my emails and starting work. If I have the time and motivation, I’ll go to the gym, then come home and make a protein smoothie and eat breakfast. If not, I’ll make breakfast (usually two eggs) and continue working. I try to be around for any emails or calls for the first few hours of the work day but my afternoon schedule changes from day to day depending on any meetings or errands.

TS

What’s your self-care power move?

DK

Turning my phone off, lighting a few of my favorite candles, taking a long shower or bath, putting on something mindless to watch, and snacking on gummies. Oh, and probably sneaking in some sort of online shopping.

TS

In a few words, describe beauty as you see it.

DK

I think beauty comes from within and isn’t anything that you can buy or do. I think confidence is so sexy and being confident, in turn, changes the way you uphold yourself. Having the confidence to care about the way you look is what gives you a glow. Of course buying products or doing treatments will help, but inner confidence and self-worth is where I think beauty really stems from.
david ko