I love design books and read them all the time. I also enjoy looking at other people's homes. If I could pick a dream career, it might be as an interior designer. The idea of helping someone create a "home" and encouraging them to let it be a reflection of who they are is very appealing. A home should highlight the owner's books, art, travel, souvenirs and family heirlooms. I have often heard designers say that the most inviting homes are a personal narrative of the way people live.
Recently I read in "House Beautiful" that its editor in chief Newell Turner was coming to Los Angeles for something called West Week and that it was happening at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. I was curious about this design event and coincidentally a friend sent me some information about it and asked if I would like to go to one of the lectures. I began to gather some information about what this was and discovered that it was a series of design lectures by some fabulous interior designers at the Pacific Design Center. And it was open to the public. I looked forward to gathering some decorating advice for my own home as well as creative ideas in general. I happily said "yes" and so began our "design" adventure, a day of inspiring thoughts and images.
We got to the Pacific Design Center a little early and enjoyed walking around this incredible building which is an architectural gem. It is bursting with showrooms filled with fabrics, rugs, antiques, furniture and anything you would need to furnish a home.
The lecture was called "Take Five: Four Designers Talk About Influence, Fantasy, and How To Stay Inspired." I loved the sound of this one. Isn't this what we all want to know about -- creative influence, fantasy, and inspiration? We would be hearing a panel discussion with Charlotte Moss, Suzanne Kastler, David Netto, and Gaye Tapp, four of the best interior designers working today. They would be talking about exciting room designs, beautiful places, and brilliant mentors that have influenced their work. We would be seeing slides of the places and people they were talking about. These four designers share a passion for design. I couldn't write fast enough to take down all the interesting thoughts they shared with us.
Here are some of the gems that were being tossed around the room by these four luminaries in the field of interior design:
They were asked about the five most exciting rooms they have ever seen --
David Netto's choices included Harry's Bar in London because of its gorgeous salmon color and wonderful lighting which add up to an inimitable atmosphere, which David said was the most important aspect of a successful room.
Gaye Tapp (who also writes the blog Little Augury) picked a bedroom by Nancy Lancaster because it is so quirky and truly reflects the person who inhabits it, and the idea of finding a room you can call your own. She believes that everyone is looking for "a room of one's own."
Charlotte Moss picked Monticello as one of her inspirations, also citing University of Virginia, both of which were designed by Thomas Jefferson. She noted that Jefferson was a gardener and she will never forget the first time she saw the serpentine brick walls of the gardens at University of Virginia and smelled the boxwood. Jefferson's architectural and gardening achievements demonstrated great attention to detail, which is one of the hallmarks of Charlotte Moss' design style.
Suzanne Kastler chose the restaurant at the Ritz Hotel in Paris as one of her favorites. She showed us a photo of this space which features a tree in the middle of the room. She borrowed that concept and used it in the barn at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. Travel is one of the most important sources of inspiration for all of these designers, and they incorporate ideas from their travels into the homes they design. I also loved Suzanne's philosophy of decorating: "A room should be collected not decorated."
They also talked about the people who have provided inspiration for their design style as well as inspiration for their lives. The list was far-reaching --
David Netto talked about his godfather Alan Campbell, who was a fabric designer and provided artistic influence. He also cited Gregory Peck for his sartorial elegance and moral integrity and the diarist James Boswell for his zest for life.
Gaye Tapp cited Virginia Woolf and her concept of creating a "room of one's own" as a huge influence. Gaye reads a lot and is a student of cultural and literary history and finds her inspiration in books. If you read her blog you will know what I mean, there is the spirit of the scholar about it.
Charlotte Moss is inspired by Bill Blass, a great raconteur and Diana Vreeland whose ferocity of spirit lends itself to great style. She talked about the importance of books in a house and how they add such an important dimension to every room.
Suzanne Kastler has found inspiration in her parents who taught her to never lose her spirit no matter how tough things become. She also admires the designer John Saladino who makes history fresh in his interior designs.
It all comes down to inspiration and being receptive to it. These designers recommended relaxing, carving out some time for yourself, loving life, not having an agenda and just going out and letting the inspiration come to you. They all believe in the intangibles of home design: a feeling of joy, atmosphere, patina, and a home that feels well-loved and lived in. These are the intangibles that add up to a beautiful home and these are the ideas we took home with us.
I left feeling inspired and enlightened, realizing that there is nothing more appealing than hearing how professional designers, or any creative souls for that matter, have turned their passion into careers. They keep it fresh by being receptive to ongoing inspiration and staying curious and interested in life.