Interiors: David Mann

Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, David Mann cannot recall ever wanting to be anything but an architect. “I am sure that came from my mother since we spent a lot of time driving around Phoenix looking at interesting architecture, much of it by Frank Lloyd Wright and his disciples.”

Today, he’s founding partner of MR Architecture + Decor in New York City, a 30-person firm that does ground-up construction but is best known for interiors. “For me,” Mann says, “it is all about scale. Design is design, whether you are macro-planning regions or cities or designing silverware for tabletops.”

Mann in one of his signature Prada suits. Photo by Mark Seelen.
A Tribeca penthouse with the unusual feature of a bed suspended on cables. Photo by Eric Laignel.

For years, Mann has worn only black Prada suits – an echo of his design philosophy of simple, practical elegance. “I gravitate toward timelessness and purity,” he says. “The design of my Prada suits has not changed in 20 years, yet to me, they still feel relevant.”

That philosophy shows up in Mann’s use of vintage furniture and objects. “It is much more interesting to find unique objects with patina and history that become a part of an interior than to simply purchase everything new. Mixing it all up thoughtfully often results in a more personalized environment.”

There’s also an eco-friendly brush stroke at work. “We all know there are too many things in the world already,” he says, “so for many daily needs, it is much better to use what has already been made.”

A foundation of any Mann project is a thorough understanding of place. “A survey allows us to bond with the property so that we can begin to know all of the features – both good and bad – about the space we will be working in,” he says. But the most memorable part of any project is “the people we work with throughout the process,” beginning with the client and including design associates, consultants and builders.

The overarching principle for Mann and his team is always the quality of the design. “Are we looking at the design challenge in a fresh way? Have we considered every opportunity? Is the end result simple, clean, elegant, unexpected, practical, timeless, nuanced and smart? That is a lot to strive for, but these are the benchmarks we try to uphold,” he says.

“Frank Lloyd Wright would say that his favorite project was his next one. My favorite is usually the one I am currently working on.”

To develop a color or texture concept for a room, start with something you love, Mann advises. For a color concept, start with a rug, pillow or maybe a piece of art, choose a favorite color from the palette within that item, and make that color the dominant color scheme for your room. For a texture concept, select something distinctive like a pillow with a heavy weave, and pair it with other textiles that extend that interest for use in curtains, upholstery or other pieces to create layering and depth.

MR Architecture + Decor, published in 2017, features a representation of 20 years of work by the company. Photo by Anthony Cotsifas.


Based in New York City, MR Architecture + Decor embraces a scope of work that extends from ground-up construction and renovation to interior architecture and design for residential, retail and other commercial clients. With no singular mandated style, MR is free to take on widely disparate projects. The common denominator throughout is a disciplined aesthetic that focuses on revealing the poetry in the most rational approach to space, proportion and light.

David Mann’s Top 10 List:

  • Designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll®

    $838.00 - $2,360.00
  • Designed by Norm Architects for Design Within Reach

  • Designed by Russell Woodard for Woodard Furniture Company

  • Designed by Charles and Ray Eames, produced by Herman Miller®

    $195.00 - $295.00
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  • Designed by Mika Tolvanen for Muuto

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  • Designed by Guido Venturini for Alessi

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  • Designed by Antonio Citterio and Toan Nguyen for Flos

  • Designed by Achille Castiglioni for Flos

    $995.00 - $2,995.00