Monelle Totah grew up in Louisiana and has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Louisiana State University but it is her childhood that really influenced her future career in design at Williams-Sonoma Home. She says she read somewhere that “southerners are a tenacious lot, we take our homes seriously.” She can also remember the first time she met her mother’s decorator. “He came over with story boards and I was in complete fascination,” she says. Monelle also traveled a lot on family vacations where even at a young age she was purchasing, rummaging and collecting. “I love product!” she also states. “I am constantly shopping…yes for shoes and handbags as well!” She grew up wanting to be a merchant in the truest sense of word and loved to discover, design, develop beautiful things. “I suppose that is why I love what I do!”
Monelle Totah has been with Williams-Sonoma for over 19 years! It all began in 1986 when, alongside the company’s founder, Chuck Williams, she created the Chambers brand. Launched as a catalog in 1989, Chambers was the first brand in the U.S. to offer the finest in European linens and hotel quality towels. During her 9-year career with the brand, Monelle was responsible for product design, merchandising, and inventory management. Her history with Chambers led her to also create the Chambers Heritage bedding collection, now a Williams-Sonoma Home mainstay.
MT: While we are often inspired by fashion, especially in the textiles area, when creating the color palette or a design detail that can be incorporated into a home textile. We rarely look to “trends.” Each season we tell a story by creating environments, compelling color stories and interesting materials, weaves and finishes.
HC: Do you travel for inspiration and if so, in what cities or countries have you found the most inspiration?
HC: Is there anything you have brought back from a trip that was redesigned as a product for WSH?
HC: I've noticed a lot of products for entertaining at WSH. Do you find that customers are entertaining more at home these days?
HC: Which interior designers past or present have a style that you admire?
HC: Color trends change for the seasons but are there any colors that you are noticing transcend the seasons and look good all year?
HC: What is your best advice for anyone who needs a little inspiration right now?