Celebrity designer Kenneth Brown, who rose to national fame as host of HGTV’s “reDesign,” is growing new roots since returning home to Baton Rouge three years ago. He’s opened a location of Kenneth Brown Design downtown, bought a home that he’s renovating for his family and shopping around for schools for his two children, 6-year-old Harper and 3-year-old Sawyer.
He’s also ready to give back to the community by bringing to Baton Rouge a charity event he has hosted in Los Angeles .
“Kenneth Brown Design presents CHAIRS featuring Ann Connelly ART” is being held in Brown’s downtown studio, located in the historic Tessier Building.
For five days, 17 chairs donated by top designers are being offered for sale to benefit City Year. Art from Ann Connelly Fine Art will also be on exhibit.
Participating designers include Paris-based Christian Liaigre for Holly Hunt, Los Angles-based Nancy Corzine, Vioski, Kelly Wearstler and the late Charles Pollock, who died in a fire this past August.
“I have 12 chairs en route right now from New York as well as Italy and France,” says Brown. “They range from traditional to mid-century modern, and they’ll be curated almost like a museum.”
Connelly will be exhibiting work from artists around the country to compliment Brown’s collection of chairs.
“The chairs came about because I’d just done a show in L.A. featuring chairs,” Brown says, adding that the chairs normally would cost between $500 and $5,000. “These are designers that you would never get to see and buy here. They’ll be offered well below retail with a big portion of the proceeds going to charity. It’s a win, win, win for everybody.”
The charity , City Year, is an education-focused, nonprofit that partners with public schools to keep students in school and on track to graduate. In Baton Rouge, 66 City Year corps members serve in four schools: Belaire High School, Broadmoor and Capitol Middle and Merrydale Elementary.
“It’s an experiment, I guess,” confesses Brown, who plans to do more “Kenneth Brown Design Presents” events in the future. “Every time I do one, it will be a different piece of furniture. I’ll invite a different local designer to participate, and it will benefit a different charity. The local design community doesn’t have a lot that brings us together. I’d like to change that.”
As excited as Brown is about his first big hometown event, he’s just as jazzed about downtown Baton Rouge.
“I want to bring people downtown to shop. There’s more to do downtown than eat and drink,” he says. “I’m leaning toward a more urban shopping experience. Downtown Kenneth Brown. I feel like I came at the right time.”
While he still has his L.A. office and continues to work on projects in California, Brown is slowly growing his local client list. His main local client at the moment is himself. He recently purchased the home he had been leasing from Connelly and, for what he says is the first time, is designing his own space. It falls right into his master plan that led him to move back home when his late mother, Jadine Brown, got seriously ill.
“My goal was to raise my kids in an environment that is loving, rich with culture,” he says, “and I’m succeeding in that 100 percent.”
On Sundays, “family day,” he says dad Phillip Brown Sr., his brother, sister and their kids all come over for quality time.
Meanwhile, he continues to “test the design waters” of his hometown.
“I think Baton Rouge is really ready to change,” Brown says. “It’s right on the cusp.”
And that change just might get showcased nationally in a new TV project.
“It’s got to be in Baton Rouge,” Brown says of his future TV endeavors. “People here take such pride in their homes. Their roots are here.”
Interior designer Kenneth Brown fundraiser for City Year.
WHAT: Sale of designer chairs.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 4-8.
WHERE: Kenneth Brown Design, 342 Lafayette St.