Recently I attended 2 seminars addressing different aspects of design and the design business that, as usual, led me to examine what I do (and often, WHY I do it)! The first seminar that I was fortunate to attend was in Winter Park, Florida (a post should be dedicated to that terrific city, just because it is amazing all by itself) The Friends of Casa Feliz hosted the 7th annual Colloquium for Historic Preservation and I was back among the environs of my architectural studies. This year the subject was the architecture of James Rogers Gamble and James Rogers Gamble II and the guest speaker was Paul Goldberger, who I have admired since I read his work on skyscrapers and other articles in the NYTimes, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere. While we had several interesting discussions as to why preservation was and is important, what constitutes "good" architecture and why it matters, I was most struck by the panel discussion on the work of the two architects. These two men, uncle and nephew, could not have been more different in era and work, yet as son and grandson "Jack" Rogers explained, what makes good architecture great is this sense of place, context,and texture. In residential design, whether it is the exterior or the interior of a building, texture is what elevates the ordinary to something that is meaningful and moving. Something that we respond to on a deeper level.
Inspiration. What is it? And, where does it come from? I recently read some articles that spoke about the writers' inspiration and it got the wheels turning for me. I also read a beautiful blog post written by Elle Cole (a lovely designer I know from Dallas) regarding beauty and Barbara Barry that got me thinking about who inspired me in a similar manner? There are many images I see from other designers that I certainly acknowledge as inspiration, Miles Redd, Darryl Carter, Mary MacDonald, Phoebe Howard and Tobi Fairley to name several, but I was trying to get to the heart of the matter and ponder what did I SEE that really influenced and generated INSPIRATION? What image or images that became more than beautiful work, or a beautiful room, or intelligent architecture? To me, great inspiration stops me cold, pierces my heart, makes me catch my breath. I look at it and instantly see everything in detail and yet everything is perfectly distinctive and absolutely RIGHT for the space. It has soul. I could not imagine changing a thing in the room, or detail in the building. The inspiration comes from these spaces and REQUIRES me to reach for that distinctive beauty in the rooms that I design. Not slavishly copy them, or elements from them, such as color palette, or a particular vintage style of furniture, but create a space that says the same perfect thing about the home and the owner, and the elements in the space.
This is first of several posts I hope to write commenting on the design and creation of the spaces that I am doing for the York Historical Society Designer's Show House (York, Maine). I have always found the articles that I have read about the creation and execution of a design very interesting, I and hope you will as well. I recently read a great post about the selection of artwork for a Show House Dining Room for the Kansas City Design Show House by my friend and colleague, Tam Stone which I thought was fascinating.
A rich, strong red is one of my very favorite things. We all know how striking it is on a beautiful woman, whatever her age, and it does the same in a room décor. It adds a depth and interest that no other color adds. We are always drawn to it, and I believe that it is as important an element as an accent of black.
I have recently been doing several projects that involve new paint color choices, and with the interest in the design world focusing on Belgian design...shades of grey seemed a natural direction to take. Driftwood, linen, faded whitewashed panelling, stoneware, all share this muted color palette, and the use of these colors brings a strong sense of serenity to a room. This color palette is also seen in Swedish design, although in Sweden it tends toward "blue-er" shade of grey and as we go south the color tends to trend "warmer" into blends of grey and beige tones.
I hear these types of comments frequently, especially the idea that designers and decorators take over and in the end, your home doesn't feel like it is yours. My approach is quite different. I work with you to make your home reflect you and your family's lifestyle. The best place to make decorating decisions is in your own home. I tour your home, room by room, to discuss your decorating needs and tastes. I then help you translate your ideas into a finished look with appropriate fabrics, furniture and accessories. By planning together, we eliminate costly decorating and design mistakes, and develop a plan and budget that is comfortable and tailored to you. One of the most common questions that I am asked by a client is "What would YOU do?" or "What would YOU pick?" I always respond that the best choice is the one that is comfortable for the client. I see my job as an editor, helping the client sort through the multiple choices and find the design details that reflect their individual style...key point being that it is the client's style that needs to be reflected, NOT the designer's.