2018 DHDA: Rising Star

This year’s Brian Killian Rising Star competition winner turns out historically informed classic designs that incorporate his love of different eras



Dearborn project, interior designer John Rattray (shown at right) thinks not only about the 1960s-era house, but the people who live there. “I loved that project,” says this year’s Brian Killian Rising Star, who describes the clients as “lovely people” who took their time because they wanted to get it right. “They were patient, and that type of process lends itself to a creative outcome. We slowly chipped away at it, and it evolved over time.”

That successful outcome joins many others in the portfolio of this young designer, who works for Birmingham-based Serba Interiors.

Rattray holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University, as well as a special certificate in architectural CAD applications. He entered the field of design after he started working with antiques dealers in Birmingham, who gave him the opportunity to participate in several buying trips to England, assist in sales, and help coordinate retail merchandise displays and work in clients’ homes. During this period, his love of fine furniture and the decorative arts blossomed.

The designer admits that the time he spent in England greatly influenced his personal aesthetic, and helped guide and refine his design philosophy.

In 2010, Rattray joined the Serba Interiors team and began accompanying owner Kevin Serba on installations both locally and nationwide. He eventually became a design assistant, acting as coordinator on many projects and working closely with Serba on all aspects of the design process.

Now an interior designer with the firm, Rattray approaches each project with a focus on both beauty and utility, working closely with his clients to achieve stylish interiors that are functional and unique. “My favorite part about design is the creativity,” he says. “I also love learning about the tastes of different clients.”

With a keen attention to detail, Rattray strives to elevate even the smallest elements of the interiors he creates, often designing custom cabinetry and bespoke furniture pieces, and commissioning one-of-a-kind paintings for his clients’ homes.

With a personal style that leans toward classic, elegant, and historically informed, he draws from the surrounding architectural dialogue for inspiration and direction on each of his projects. Tending toward an updated traditional aesthetic, he focuses on reissuing enduring styles rather than succumbing to trends.

Besides possessing a passion for design, the designer enjoys gardening, theater, architecture, and music, which all contribute to his broader design aesthetic. “It’s a great process when I can take my own taste and what I love and project it into projects and styles from a different time period and aesthetic,” he says.


Melding the past with an updated present, and featuring a keen sense of color and excellent use of original art, Rising Star John Rattray’s designs are stellar.


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