Inside Blackberry Farm’s Stylish Push into Real Estate and Home Design
Perhaps because most Blackberry houses are not primary residences, Bell says his on-site clients are usually ready to have fun with their interiors. “The unique beauty of what we provide our clients is the feeling they get when they stay as a guest at Blackberry—but they get to keep it forever,” Bell explains. “We reproduce the Farm or Mountain for them with their spin. We call it the ‘Blackberry state of mind.’”
Engaging regional talent is important to the design team. Bell hires local East Tennessee artisans and makers when he can, from visual artists and furniture makers to ironworkers and cabinetmakers. “We have a millworker here who’s as good as someone in New York or Los Angeles,” he notes at one point.
One project that used several local makers was the Farm home of Shai and Kate Waisman, who worked with the in-house design team. The NYC-based couple first came to Blackberry Farm in 2007 as guests and quickly fell in love with its aesthetic. Eventually, they decided to build a vacation home for them and their twin daughters.
“Given our deep appreciation for the soul of Blackberry and, in particular, the sophistication and care they put into everything they design and build, we knew we wanted to work with Blackberry Design,” Shai Waisman says. “We wanted our home to pay homage to many of the structures of the Farm and be consistent with the overall aesthetic of the architecture, much of which we knew had been designed by Keith Summerour. This team, working seamlessly together, crafted a home that is far beyond anything we could have imagined.”
Construction began on their 7,500-square-foot home in 2018, when the newer Mountain was nearing its completion, and the Waismans chose to integrate Mountain design features into their own plan. This gives the home a more casual feel than other Farm properties. Says Bell: “It’s rustic, but with amazing art.”
Indeed, art advisory is under the design team’s purview, and identifying works for the space was an important part of Bell’s and Feuer’s jobs. “We found out early on that art and color were very important to them,” says Feuer. “That drove the overall look.” Their walls are hung with bright, funky Pop art by artists including Ashley Longshore, Jessica Lichtenstein, Andrew Saftel, Adam Greener, and Mika Tajima.
Elsewhere, the cypress beams inside the home have the same finish as the exterior, bringing the outside in—a common tactic for the Blackberry team. Floors are reclaimed (sustainability is always top of mind) and lighting in the central room is minimal in order to allow the modernist Lindsey Adelman fixture to have maximum impact.
Despite the almost extreme personalization of each private home, clients often ask to incorporate Blackberry’s foothills aesthetic into their mix. The Waisman were keen to have the same McQueen Pottery, made in nearby Maryville, Tennessee, that is used on the Farm for their kitchen—a popular request among Blackberry homebuilders. While the design team is happy to accommodate these requests, they make subtle efforts to differentiate the mothership. “We made a special custom glaze for the Waisman, because we wanted it to be Blackberry, but we also wanted it to be unique to them,” Feuer explains.