Content Connectivity

Back in February 2015, the marketing guru Seth Godin published an article on one of my favorite blogs, Contently.com, suggesting, “You Need Editors, Not Brand Managers.” It changed the way I think about marketing and promotion.

The take-away from the article, simply stated, is that we’re living through a revolutionary moment in the way we communicate with each other, share news and information and promote products and services. Social media has upended our reliance on print and television, and offers opportunities for both individuals and brands to advance their goals by developing and disseminating content with relative ease.

The secret to using these new tools successfully, according to Godin, is to develop content that connects with your audience, the people who might become your customers.

In my work as a consultant, I strive to help my clients make these connections. When working with designers, I spend time helping them better understand their brand and their potential customers. This is often simply a matter of “aesthetic forensics”—examining what their work represents and whom it might reach.

Let me give you an example I share with prospective clients who are interior designers.

Imagine you have a keen interest in placing art in interior design; to be more specific, let’s say you love 20th-century works on paper. Presumably, these kinds of works appear in rooms you’ve designed, and feature prominently in your portfolio.

Here’s what I might recommend: research all the auctions, gallery shows, and museum exhibitions over the next 12 months that include works on paper, and make a plan to attend as many as possible. Here’s when the content development becomes important.

If you’ve established an industry blog, I would recommend that you write and publish a review of each event you attend. In that way, you’re telling an organic story of your interest in works on paper to anyone who researches you online. Ideally, your review should include photographs you’ve shot at the event, images of your favorite pieces from the show, and a photograph of yourself in the space.

One important auction on the calendar in New York this spring is Sotheby’s photographs by Ansel Adams. This would be a perfect choice for several reasons. First, Christie’s has 445,000 followers on Facebook, nearly 91,000 followers on Twitter and more than 500,000 followers on Instagram. Second, it’s likely that if you promote Christie’s auction on those three platforms, they’ll return the favor by promoting your content free of charge.

And who are the people who follow Sotheby’s? Many of them are your potential customers, with a strong interest in photography. If they land on your blog to read your review of the Adams auction, they may choose to browse through your design portfolio as well, and appreciate your use of works on paper. Through this shared interest, you may gain a new customer. That’s what I refer to as “Content Connectivity”.

Now, a bit about how to craft content that not only connects with your audience, but also inspires them to share it.

Here I have a catchphrase: “be of service” to your audience. In other words, create content that enriches the lives of your audience and the larger community by offering a bit of your expertise. This is where I’ve been known to say, “Your ego is not your amigo.” Talking about yourself incessantly turns people off; like a bore at a dinner party, people eventually stop hearing you. Make your content about your audience, not about you.

So, how can you be of service to your audience? I have a four-point strategy: educate, solve, promote, and entertain.

Taking the Ansel Adams auction as an example, you might;

  • Educate your audience. Share a bit of biographical information about Adams and his career in photography. Perhaps place him in the context of the art of the American Southwest, and explore his relationships with other artists such as Orville Cox, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edward Curtis.
  • Take the opportunity to solve a problem. As the works in the Christie’s auction are large-scale, you might choose to offer your expertise on how to best hang large-scale artworks, or how to best incorporate black-and-white photography into a color scheme.
  • Promote something of value. Review the auction lots in advance if you can gain access to the sale preview. Because you’ve had experience with placing Adams’ work before, you might find a special photograph that’s got a low estimate, a rare image, or something iconic that’s not often seen at auction.
  • Entertain. Tell a story. We all have a wealth of history to draw upon; take the opportunity to share an anecdote about your first experience with an Ansel Adams work. Perhaps you were in design school and traveled to MoMA, where you first saw his work in person. Write about that experience.

Let me sum it up for you. When I think about the importance of crafting branded content and sharing it across social platforms, I’m reminded of a designer I met with a few years ago who said “I don’t need to be on social media; I don’t really care about what my friends are having to eat.”  And on some level, I understood his reluctance. But carefully considered and well-crafted content could connect you with a client, and that might pay for your lunch.

Navigating the New World of Design Media

Margaret Russell and Carl Dellatore

We may be addicted to electronic devices, but if you walk into an interior design office today, you might just discover bookshelves lined with hundreds of shelter publications. Inspiration will always thrive in their pages—from the latest glossy issue to those published decades ago—but there are a plethora of other options for designers to publicize exceptional work.

Join design-industry expert Margaret Russell, editor-in-chief of Galerie Magazine and former editor-in-chief of ELLE DECOR and Architectural Digest and Rizzoli editor Carl J Dellatore, for a discussion on how shelter-brand content—both print and digital—is adapting to the new media landscape, and how this transition affects interior designers and architects. They will also offer insight on how to best navigate social media platforms, design blogs, public relations, and the world of book publishing; Q+A will follow the program.

Follow this link to register as seating is limited.

Timothy Corrigan: On Welcoming Spaces

Interior Design Master Class Timothy Corrigan

First, you have to be sensitive to the psychology of the room. Color plays a huge role in the emotions that are evoked in the space: use color to maximize intended emotions for the area. The furniture plan and flow are also important; not enough furniture— or too much—can kill a room’s mood. Getting the proportions of the furnishings right is also essential. For example, low furniture in a room with tall ceilings can make its occupants feel diminished and unimportant.

Next, pay attention to comfort. We’ve all seen beautifully designed chairs that feel like torture devices when one sits down. When it comes to seating, ergonomics and comfort should come first. Getting scale right is also important; you don’t want the chair to be under- or overscaled. If you want statement pieces in a room, choose something other than seating.

Interior Design Master Class Timothy Corrigan
A seemingly paradoxical mix of formal architecture and casual decoration are found in this grand salon in France: deep down-filled seating, upholstered in an outdoor fabric; an antique Tabriz carpet; and objets d’art from many periods. The result is a room that feels relaxed and welcoming. Photo credit Eric Piasecki

“Then, consider practicality. Who wants to worry about the inevitable spilled glass of red wine or water ring on the antique side table? One of the most important aspects of a welcoming space is that it has been designed to really work for the way that you live. Today, with so many terrific options in terms of high-performance fabrics, you don’t have to squirm at the smallest accident.

Using marine varnish on even the finest of antiques takes the worry out of every glass or coffee cup that gets set down on a table.”

Eve Robinson: On Family

Interior Design Master Class Quotes“Just as homes can be laid out to maximize social interaction, an individual room can be designed to positively reinforce parent-child bonds. The placement and relationship of each piece of furniture to another affects how human connections are made. For instance, adding an L-shaped sectional to a family room with an ottoman in front invites everyone to gather to play games, do homework, and converse. Having an inviting, comfortable, well-lit place to read to a child fosters intimacy. Including trundle beds in children’s rooms makes it easy to have sleepovers, promoting socialization.

Interior Design Master Class Rizzoli
A colorful photograph by OlivoBarbieri hangs above a Jens Risom sofa in the center of this modern family lounge. The pair of bronze-and-glass coffee tables afford space for everything from coloring books to best sellers and the ombré curtains are made from alpaca. Photo credit: Peter Margonelli

“Contrary to what one might think, elegance and practicality are not irreconcilable for families. Throughout a home, materials can be aesthetically pleasing as well as durable.”

Texas Design Week Keynote Panel: What’s Modern Now?

Carl Dellatore Texas Design Week

Join me on Thursday, May 18th at 11:30 am in the David Sutherland Showroom for a Keynote panel discussion with AD 100 designers Madeline Stuart from Los Angeles and Vicente Wolf from New York.

We’ll be talking ‘Modernity’, and what’s considered ‘Modern’ now as we advance into the 21st Century and The Information Age. Proves to be a very exciting and enlightening conversation.

And as an FYI:

Here’s a list of all the Texas Design Week events — tickets can be purchased by following this link.

#TexasDesignWeek2017 #RizzoliNewYork

Anthony Baratta: On Exuberance

Interior Design Master Class

Color is, of course, the easiest way to make a bold statement. There are no bad colors, but it is a lot easier to create an exuberant interior with red than it is with beige. Nancy Lancaster’s butter yellow room at Colefax and Fowler, David Hicks’s drawing room using ten shades of red, Billy Baldwin’s sublime blue room at the Villa Fiorentina, and Mark Hampton’s chocolate brown room in a Kips Bay showhouse will always be a huge influence, because although each room is unique, they all share a clarity and sense of purpose expressed through a strong color statement.”

Interior Design Master Class
An irregularly shaped canvas by American minimalist painter Frank Stella takes pride of place in this exuberant living room. The vivid geometric rug and throw pillows are balanced by the clean lines of a pair of midcentury armchairs and the custom ottomans. Credit George Ross Photography

“Love of strong color is a personality trait, and like an MGM musical, I choose to decorate in Technicolor. There are no rules when using color to foster exuberance, but I like using a classic combination like blue and white as a jumping-off point and then adding in the spice—such as orange.”

Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2017

Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse 2017
Janice Parker’s ‘Bamboo Court’ Garden. Photo credit Alan Barry

I realize I’m not the only design enthusiast that remembers Robert Denning & Vincent Fourcade‘s maximalist approach to decoration. I loved the excess of their interiors and I was certainly not their only fan.

And as you’ll see it’s the love of ‘more-is-more’ that pervades, in a very tasteful way, this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Beginning with Richard Mishaan’s salon – the ultimate nod to Italian legend Renzo Mongiardino — the house packs a punch… Continue reading “Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2017”

Books: MR Architecture + Decor

In the opening paragraph of Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus Manifesto, the founder of the movement suggests “The ultimate aim of all visual arts is the complete building!”, further professing “Architects, painters, and sculptors must recognize anew and learn to grasp the composite character of a building both as an entity and in its separate parts. Only then will their work be imbued with the architectonic spirit which it has lost as “salon art.”

David Mann clearly understands the importance of these dictates.

The 18 projects featured in his new monograph from Abrams are as varied as they are dynamic… Continue reading “Books: MR Architecture + Decor”

The New Chic: French Style from Today’s Leading Interior Designers

The title of Marie Kalt’s new book from Rizzoli New York references ‘The New Chic’, but she could just as easily have suggested ‘the radically cool’ as an alternative description. Every room in this book is sublime, especially those created for the annual design showcase AD Intériers where the participating designers are given carte blanche to create living spaces unfiltered by commissioning clients… Continue reading “The New Chic: French Style from Today’s Leading Interior Designers”

VMAD’s West Elm Headquarters

By Lisa Zeiger

When Mark Murashige and Kay Vorderwuelbecke of VM Architecture and Design (VMAD) began redesigning the Empire Stores on the docks of the East River in DUMBO for West Elm in 2013, a high water mark from Hurricane Sandy was still visible, eight feet up the brick walls of the nearly 140-year-old structure, rich with history… Continue reading “VMAD’s West Elm Headquarters”