James Magni Enhances a Modern House in an Exclusive Moscow Neighborhood
Originally published in the September/October 2015 issue of Robb Report Home & Style as “To Russia with Art”
Italian American, James Magni grew up in Omaha, Neb., never imagining that he would become an acclaimed interior designer in Los Angeles and be summoned to Moscow to design the house of a Russian tycoon.
From age 5, his ambition was to become an artist, and he nurtured his talents in a progressive high school, taking classes in painting, sculpture, and varied crafts. At the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he hoped to become a sculptor but switched to architecture when prompted by a friend. He went to work for a commercial firm in Dallas and there found his true calling: At age 25, he gave a presentation for an office interior that so impressed the client, the client urged Magni to head west to Los Angeles. So first, Magni started his own company in that Texas metropolis and eight years later made the move to L.A. Those early days of establishing his namesake design studio saw many late nights. He and his one associate worked 12-hour days for three years, honing their skills and winning commissions.
Thirty years later, Magni Design has completed some 300 high-end residential interiors and a scatter of other jobs—each bearing his tailored modernist credo. “When you do residential design, you are working in someone’s sacred space,” he explains. “It’s not just decorating—putting objects and artworks in rooms. Our job is to create environments that are meaningful to people, that speak very intimately to who they are and where their spirit can come to life.”
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