Archive for June, 2009
For those who say that all I do is white walls, here’s a library in Long Island with a teal-colored strié walls to prove you wrong. Besides the beautiful walls, what really catches the eye is the incredible art that the client has – above the sofa there’s a beautiful Miró and on the side of the room there’s a bright Lichtenstein that really pops against the wall color.
The funny thing is that the room wasn’t done around the artwork. Both these pieces were in a different part of the house, but when the room was finished, they just worked in here.
Not bad art, hey?
It was painfully pleasant to read all the responses to my ‘Frustration’ post and it again brings to the forefront of my mind what is really important to you about what I have to share on this blog. I think that sometimes one thinks that people want to hear the fluff, but it’s good to hear the pain and the problems too. In our industry, as I said when I wrote that post, I think we’re so misunderstood in terms of what our values are and what it takes to be a professional, to handle suppliers and create, estimate and produce a job.
Most of you wrote about HGTV and the added pitfalls that it has brought to our industry, but they only produce the shows that people want to see. And people want to see how one can be creative in 30 seconds because their understanding of what creativity is is very far from the truth. It’s like telling a blind person to see something. If you can’t see it, you just can’t see it.
I try to share this experience with you all because I know that designers out there are going through this all the time and only when we stand for what we believe in, and when we stand up for our worth, will things start to change. We may not get those clients, but water seeks its own levels and if we keep going down to that level by cutting ourselves short, we will keep getting the same type of clients. And it is something that one never comes out the winner – 99.9% of the time we never come out the winner when we sell ourselves short because it erodes the respect that we deserve.
Thank you for all your comments – I truly appreciate the time and effort you take in not only reading this blog, but also sharing your own pains and frustrations with me. When we hurt, we all feel it the same way.
Even after doing this for 35 years and meeting all types of people who come in for consultations, I’m still surprised at the lack of understanding of what it takes to create an environment. I had a meeting earlier this week with four people who wanted to engage us to work on a Condo. Their expectations and a request to just ‘come up with two or three designs so we can present it to other people in the building and then’, to boot, ‘there are four other designers who are doing the same’ to see which one they like, really upset me – maybe it’s wrong of me, but I feel that if you throw it together, you’re not going to do your best job.
When I asked one of them what they did for a living he said he was a software programmer and I asked him if I was considering hiring him, would he come up with three different programs for me so I could decide whether I wanted to work with him. He said ‘Absolutely not – it takes a lot of time and energy to do that, you’d have to pay me by the hour, I wouldn’t do it for nothing.’ In the same breath that’s exactly what they expected of me. It shows an absolute lack of respect for the work that we do – the energy that we put into creating an environment that is not just ho hum and a space that will make me feel that what I’m doing is the best that I can offer.
In this industry somehow we’ve never gotten to put across to the general public the importance of what we do and the delicacy of what we create. If you have encountered similar situations, why don’t you share it. Any ideas on how to deal with this?
PS Besides wanting us to design three different ideas, they had no idea of budget so they wanted us to design at three different price ranges. Figure that one out…
Name: Jen Lane Landolt
I recently purchased some French Bridge Chairs from the 40s – they are weathered and beautiful camel colored leather– and i have a beautiful Alaine Richard rosewood buffet- I’m having trouble with the dining table. I love the table you have in one of your dining rooms– can you give any advice, favorite tables? I simply LOVE your work! Thank you for the inspiration!
Dear Jen – thanks for the support. It’s hard to suggest something without any kind of visual reference. Maybe a very contemporary table would be a good direction to take. You don’t want this to be a period room where everything is from one particular point of view, so consider something very simple to juxtapose against the French 1940’s. Be sure to send us a photo when it’s all done!
The new Highline Park just opened and on Monday I went for a walk on it with a friend. It was such a pleasure to see all these blooming plants, seating areas and to enjoy the city stars at night (this despite the fact that it’s been raining basically non-stop in NY).
The most pleasant surprise was at the end of the walk way at 20th Street, on the northern exit, there was – on the brownstone across the street – a lady in her fire escape, with little lanterns and a spotlight, singing Cole Porter tunes – she was wearing a long summer dress and it was such a New York moment it looked like a contemporary Norman Rockwell paiting; all these people standing on the bridge watching her sing, with clothes drying on the line behind her.
I was surprised when I saw that they beat me to it by reporting it in today’s NY Times in the Home Section – I was going to go back and photograph her to show you all, but apparently there’s a Facebook page, you can listen to the woman sing online…
Check out the links to see when the next performance will be – what a brilliant New York story!
Name: Tiffany Kim
City: San Jose
Hello Mr. Vicente Wolf,
My name is Tiffany Kim, and I am a graphic designer aspiring to be an interior designer. I have always loved interior design, and I am now studying to be an interior designer. I absolutely love your work! You are incredibly talented and an inspiration to me! Do you have any advice for a young design student starting out in this field? Thank you so much!!!
Hi Tiffany -
Thank you for the compliments! My first piece of advice is to try get a job, even if it is as an apprentice for a firm. In my experience you can learn a lot in school, but only from practicing do you really get to hone your skills. In deciding who you go to – here are two points of views: if they’re not very good as designers, you can learn what NOT to do. If they’re very good as designers, you get to experience how a successful, professional office works. You have to decide what you want to learn. Wishing you all the best.
Last week I met with photographer Laura Novak through a business associate – she wanted to get my input on a new concept she’s just launching. It was very intriguing to see how a creative person can take a mundane approach to portraits and turn it into a really exciting way to show off your family and yourself, without using a traditional approach of a photograph of the children and you on the wall. She’s made it exciting and quite different.
From a photographer’s point of view I like how, when showing children, she will sometimes not show the parent’s upper body, which puts the scale of the child into perspective. They’re quite wonderful – she’s in Wilmington, Delaware and is highly recognized as a wedding photographer, but is changing her focus on bringing portraiture to a different level.
As a photographer I really relate to her work. We were thinking of joining forces this coming fall to host a talk about using photography as part of interior design.If you’re in the Wilmington or Philadelphia area and would be interested in attending this talk, please leave a comment below this mail, or visit Laura’s website here.
Name: Linda Goldspink
Dear Mr. Wolf,
I have been following your designs since you were a partner with Bob Patino: memory flashes–you are wearing a shirt with one side of the collar black, the other white; an apartment all done in gray, very stripped down, a red chair in the bedroom, the first appearance of the mirror propped against the wall; chairs in your apartment with “pockets” on the sides.
Question: would you mix paintings and photographs in a wall arrangement? in the same room?
Thank you. L
Hi Linda – That is a flashback in time if I ever thought of one!
Thanks for the question – it really depends on the paintings and the photographs – maybe it’s because of my preference, but I think things like that work better on a picture ledge, so it has a less structured look to it.
I’ve started work on my new book and one of the topics we’re addressing is ‘simplicity’ and how one should approach simplicity in design. In thinking about it I feel that simplicity is not about stark environments but rather about taking design and bringing it to its essence. In my case it’s achieved by bringing my designs to a point where it’s just above the ‘simplistic’ level and then eliminating the design until it’s just right. I look at a space after I’ve done what I think works and then I take away until it reaches a point where it loses its strengths. You have to think of it as making a sauce where you reduce the liquid to the point that it has flavor yet is not too watery. As in design, if you take the sauce reduction process too far down it becomes dry.
One example of how I do it is when I’m working with colors I lay out all the different fabrics in the tones that the client wants and then I reduce it. So I may have the same color in a dull and shiny fabric and remove one, to balance it out. I keep eliminating materials until there’s the right balance of elements. The same thing with selecting the furniture in the room – I start with ying and yang, rounds and squares, old and new and keep balancing it so they have synergy. If the sofa’s rounded the chairs pulled up to it may be square. Maybe I’ll add one traditional piece, maybe a mid-century-inspired coffee table and so on until they’re balanced.
Then I step back, look at it and see on the plan if it gives it a sense of balance and then I proceed to the next step. What is your design process? And what is your take on simplicity – does it work for you?
I went to see Accent on Youth at the theater last night.
The audience seemed very ‘out-of-town-ish’, mostly above forty and they all loved David Hyde Pierce. I don’t know why I bought the tickets as he’s never been a favorite of mine, but I guess my compulsive theater-going mind pushed me in that direction.
But what do I know? The audience loved it, it was only me who sat there stone-faced all night.
If you’ve seen it, what did you think?