A pair of double-faced silk portieres fabricated by the ladies at RoseHyll Studio separate Michael Herold’s patrician entry from Dan Fink’s deco-inflected ground floor landing at this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. And yet the spaces flow together to set the tone for another banner year at this time-honored charity event on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Interior designer Ray Booth’s work conjures comparisons: He understands the importance of silhouette like John Saladino; the precise tailoring of his rooms call to mind a Jill Sander collection; and his color sensibility inhabits the same etherial realm as a Turner seascape hanging at the Tate.
Quite the combination.
These ideas and more are evident in Ray’s masterful new book Evocative Interiors, released last month by Rizzoli New York.
With a forward by Bobby McAlpine – whose firm Ray Booth is a partner in – Evocative Interiors features images from projects Booth has completely over the course of nearly two decades.
“Our everyday surroundings are a mark we make to claim our place on earth. The daily experiences they evoke through the combination of color, material, furnishings, and context profoundly affect our physical and emotional well-being.” – Ray Booth
Booth creates rooms meant for living – opulent and photogenic to be sure — but with a soul that portends an invitation to sit, relax, converse, and enjoy. These are rooms best categorized as supremely modern; they address our movement toward cleaner eclecticism and restorative spaces.
When I put this book down after a careful appraisal, I remembered the outspoken Polly Mellen in that scene from Unzipped where she’s in the back seat of a limousine with Isaac Mizrahi, describing his work as sublime but not fussy; in a wide-eyed moment she exclaims “Fussy — Finished!”
Sublime but not fussy aptly describes Ray Booth’s work as well.
My office is on the same block as the Rizzoli Bookstore in New York, so when I wandered in Tuesday morning, I was the first person to buy a copy of Charlotte Moss Entertains, the 10th book by the celebrated decorator and trendsetter, on the day of its release (they were just arranging the first copies on the shelves.) And after spending an hour at my favorite coffee haunt across the street leafing through its pages, I can attest that this book lives up to the title: It Entertains.
In her introduction, Moss lays out a concise (and accessible) list of suggestions for her readers, on all things pertaining to entertaining. Sending invites, the importance of flowers, creating table scapes, candles, dressing for dinner, and recording your parties are all covered.
What follows is a rich visual chronicle of some of Charlotte’s favored events, including a dinner party in Charleston, a gala for The New York City Ballet, a book party for Patricia Gaye Tapp, and her annual ‘Caftan Caucus’ – a weekend party shared with women friends at her East Hampton home.
But for me what’s most notable in Charlotte Moss Entertains – in addition to Moss’s writings – are the 200 photographs of everything including linens, china, table settings, gardens, rooms, and flowers (glorious flowers!) arranged for the guests to arrive; the images will inspire both the host and hostess for decades to come.
One final thought: I’m not sure when the idea of referring to pictures as porn, as in food-porn or tabletop-porn or flower-porn entered the popular vernacular, but those are 3 concise phrases to describe this book. And if Charlotte were to blush at those references, I would beg her indulgence, because Charlotte Moss Entertains is one of the sexiest entertaining books you’ll ever own. .
I heard Brooklyn-based interior designer Kathryn Scott speak at the AD Home Show several years ago and was captivated by the way she articulated herself, and by her personal style, unique among her contemporaries in the design industry. But it was the slide show of images of her Italianate townhouse that left me speechless – indeed a rare feat for those who know me well.
Taking the opportunity to introduce myself after the panel discussion led to a visit to Kathryn’s home…
I grew up on Cape Cod. My first official textile project was splatter painting curtains made from old sheets when I was in 3rd grade. My grandmother was a weaver in Deerfield Massachusetts. She taught me sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, and bead weaving.
When I would visit in the summers, we would work on projects together- usually sewing new outfits. I was never satisfied with the fabric options in the store. This love of working with fabric from a young age helped me to understand that textile design is really about form in all three dimensions- not just pattern. In high school, I made my own clothes and practiced batik and dyeing fabrics…. Continue reading “(VIDEO) POLLACK’s Rachel Doriss: On Textile Construction and the Creative Process”
Susanna Salk, with principal photography by Stacey Bewkes. Rizzoli 2017
Back in the day, I had 2 overlapping generations of Norfolk Terriers: a red-wheaton named Maxine, and a black-and-tan, named Bruno, Maxine’s nephew. And if you were a customer of my textile studio you likely remember them, as they went to work with me everyday. We were inseparable.
And it’s the special relationship between designer and dog – or vice-versa as Salk tongue-and-cheekedly suggests in her title — that’s highlighted in her new book from Rizzoli New York… Continue reading “At Home with Dogs and Their Designers: Sharing a Stylish Life”
Last Wednesday, the New York School of Interior Design hosted Galerie Magazine editor in chief and honorary dean of the SCAD School of Building Arts, Margaret Russell, and me for a spirited conversation about navigating the new world of design media. We discussed shelter publications, designer websites, social media (including an excellent tutorial on utilizing Instagram as a business tool), as well as interior design book publishing.
If you were unable to attend, here is a videotape of the evening provided by NYSID. It’s an invaluable opportunity to hear one of the most important minds in the design industry share her insights.
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.