What “Formal” Means Today

Join a lively conversation on design with House Beautiful editor-in-chief Sophie Dow Donelson and designers Alexa Hampton and Markham Roberts

Sophie Dow Donelson

Sophie Donelson was named Editor in Chief of House Beautiful in 2015. A year later she was recognized by Hearst as a Rookie of the Year for an editorial perspective that recognizes the legacy of America’s longest published decor magazine, while opening the door to a new generation of design lovers.

Sophie began her career in shelter magazines, holding editor titles at Hampton Cottages & Gardens, Elle Decor and Martha Stewart’s Blueprint magazines. As an independent journalist she covered design and lifestyle for the nation’s top media outlets including The New York Times, New York magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The Globe & Mail.

During a five-year detour from publishing, she served as a brand director and creative advisor on digital and retail startups including C. Wonder, Curbed.com and Editor at Large, where she was the original on-air host of Editor TV.

Donelson’s national TV appearances include the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and Open House and she has been a featured presenter at dozens of key industry and consumer events.

A contributor to several volumes on home design, Sophie’s latest book, Style Secrets: What Every Room Needs was published by Abrams this Fall and quickly became an Amazon bestseller. She also writes a syndicated design-advice column and is a sought-after expert on trends in decor, living and color.

Sophie lives in a 1917 Neo-Tudor apartment in Queens with her husband, the journalist and urbanist Greg Lindsay, and their two young sons.

Sophie Donelson

Alexa Hampton

Mark Hampton LLC was founded in 1976, by the late designer for whom the firm is named. During Hampton’s 22-years at the helm of the firm, he was designated by journalists as an “Icon of American Design” and posthumously celebrated by Architectural Digest in January 2010 as one of “The World’s Twenty Greatest Designers of All Time.” Hampton had significant landmarked governmental commissions in the United States and abroad. These projects include work at the White House for President Bush Sr. and President Clinton; Blair House, the official guest house of the President; Camp David; The U.S Naval Observatory, home of the Vice-President; The George Bush Presidential Library Museum in College Station, Texas; The Governor’s mansion in Albany, NY; Gracie Mansion, the residence of New York’s mayor; Villa Aurelia, the American Academy in Rome; and The American Embassy in Paris. Mark Hampton was among the first notable interior designers to team with a furniture manufacturer, the Hickory Chair Company (now Heritage Home), to produce his own line of furniture, introduced in 1989.  He also wrote and two books: Mark Hampton on Decorating and Legendary Decorators of the 20th Century. As an accomplished watercolorist, one of his works is included in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In 1998, upon Mark Hampton’s death, his daughter, fellow designer Alexa Hampton, took over the ownership and design leadership of the world famous firm. She has completed of a wide range of designs for domestic and international projects, from New York City to Hangzhou, China, including apartments and large residences, private airplanes and yachts. A perennial member of Architectural Digest’s AD100 and House Beautiful’s Top Designer list as well as a member of Elle Décor’s A-list, Hampton’s work is classic, and eclectic. Her involvement in design goes far past her position as featured designer of Mark Hampton LLC; she is on the board of trustees for the New York School of Interior Design, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Institute for Classical Architecture. She was one of the three inaugural designers who launched  Gilt Groupe’s Gilt Home Design Boutiques, serves on the design board of MyDeco.com and was the only ever female cast member of “This Old House” and was a co-host of PBS' “Find.” Over the years, Hampton’s work has been featured in many national and international shelter and design magazines. 

In recent years, Hampton received an honorary PhD from Moore College of Art and Design, was awarded Cosmopolitan’s Fun Fearless Female Award, Connecticut Cottage & Gardens’ Design Innovator Award and the Hyland Award for Interior Design. She was the first woman to receive the Design Icon Award at the World Market Center in 2013. In 2014, Hampton was an honoree of the Women’s Venture Fund and received a Crystal Kylin Award from the China Interior Design Association, one of the top honors of the design industry in that country. In 2015, Hampton was honored with the Visionary Woman Award by Moore College. The New York School of Interior Design is presenting Hampton with an honorary PhD in May of 2016 at its 100th anniversary graduation ceremony.

Hampton has a growing stable of acclaimed products for the home. These include fabrics and trims for Kravet Inc., her own furniture line for Hickory Chair Co. and its sister furniture line at Kravet, carpets for Stark Carpet, lighting for Visual Comfort & Co., mantels for Chesney’s, door and cabinet hardware for SA Baxter Hardware, plumbing fixtures for Cooper & Graham, bedding accessories for Eastern Accents, table linens for La Gallina Matta, cork floors for Globus Cork, and architectural moldings for White River Mouldings.  Hampton’s 10th anniversary furniture collection for Hickory Chair Co. debuted at Spring Market in 2015 as did her new accessories line with Maitland Smith.  In 2016, Alexa Hampton was named spokesperson and Creative Director for The Mine where she guides the product offerings.    

Hampton is the author of two critically praised books: The Language of Interior Design, and Decorating in Detail and contributed an essay for Charlotte Moss' book, A Visual Life. She is also a contributing columnist for the The Wall Street Journal’s Saturday “Off Duty” section. Hampton posts on facebook, twitter, and pinterest under Alexa Hampton Inc. and frequently lectures on design around the country and internationally.

Hampton lives in NY with her husband and three children.

Alexa Hampton

Markham Roberts

Born in Indianapolis, Markham Roberts graduated from Brown University and moved to New York to work with the late Mark Hampton, before opening his eponymous firm in 1997. Called “a master of timeless American style” by Vogue, Markham has earned the reputation as one of the top decorators of his generation. He and his work have been featured in Architectural Digest, Cabana, Domino, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, House & Garden, Southern Accents, Town & Country, Veranda, and The New York Times. Markham has been named to the AD100, Architectural Digest’s prestigious list of the top 100 interior designers and architects in the world, since 2014.

Known for his creativity and ability to work in a wide variety of styles, Markham adeptly interprets his clients’ needs and wants in a seamless way that reflects their style and not merely his own imprint. Markham’s widely praised monograph, Decorating: The Way I See It, published by The Vendome Press, showcases his refreshing approach to decorating.

In the words of Senga Mortimer, the noted editor, “There is a distinct refinement that runs through all of his work and is, indeed, emblematic of his personality ... Markham, with his unflinching ease, his assured eye, his natural understanding of how a house should function, and his total lack of pretense, creates rooms that are timeless.”

Markham Roberts lectures on decorating across the country. He sits on the board of the Cain Foundation, a philanthropic trust established by his late grandparents to support the arts, education, and to assist those in need.

Markham Roberts

Design Panel Co-Chairs:

Susan Burke
Annie Magruder
Maria Pollard


Autumn Allen
Ally Banks
Laura Bennett
Jessica Boulanger
Courtney Cox
Alex Derringer
Jennifer Leonard Kline
Mae Grennan
Kim Hayman
Liz Levin
Michelle Maddux
Bridget Nikodem
Alison Reynolds
Julie Rienzo
Allison Riepe
Mary Ritchey
Jenna Rupp
Helen Sale
Emily Vaughan

Free with Show admission.