Inspired interior designers have brands, indeed luxury brands. More than a look or style, their brands are distinguished among the vanguard of other talented peers by their talents, wisdom and courage. Who are they, or at least some of them? What makes their brands so luxurious? How is being the beneficiary of their design such a luxury?
David Easton. Suzanne Rheinstein. Eric Cohler. Bill Diamond & Tony Baratta. Unique in so many ways, yet they share an honorable distinction -- all have created distinctive collections of fabric and furnishings for Lee Jofa, a brand renowned for honorable distinction. The collections are born from something essential within their classical souls, something superb.
These designers are first and foremost visionaries. Each has fundamentally transformed the practical science of design into an art. Design that does not appear designed.
Eric Cohler sees beyond 3-D to his “ineffable dimension,” indescribable yet essential. As both seer and alchemist, he finds inspiration in the rare or prosaic. Or like Vermeer, inspiration from the light at the window, or end of the day.
Bill Diamond says of Tony Baratta, his design partner of nearly three decades, “he observes with such incredible peripheral vision; he sees everything, so we design everything.” No trends; all abundant creativity.
Suzanne Rheinstein loves quoting the author Joan Didion, reminding us that “everyday is all there is,” so Suzanne uses precious things everyday. “How you live your life everyday is so much more important than getting your house together for a special occasion or holiday.”
David Easton aims his brand resolutely toward the future. “Ours is a time of rapid change in the way people live; inevitably in the way we design.” Able to stay ahead of the flashy flow of indomitable information, he adheres to his oft-quoted mantra, “one’s appreciation of the modern is informed by an appreciation of the past.” And David’s appreciation of the past is formidable - a true Renaissance man and virtual Dean of Classical American Architecture, he also is an avant garde thinker. Challenging himself rigorously to look ahead, not back.
Each person, each designer is so firmly grounded in the classics of art, architecture and interior design. Each of them (usually the best in any field) have insatiable intellectual curiosity. They study, read, travel and observe. Simultaneously, they are students, learners and often teachers.
“It may be a classical thing to say,” Tony said, “but our classical studies of art and art history inform the integrity of our work.” A formidable library resides on the studio’s shelves, but the knowledge is abundant in their body of work ... and in their heads.
Eric’s aesthetic evolved from youthful enthusiast to artist by studying art history and classical architecture. He prepared for his prologue to “tradition with a twist” by immersing himself in the lore and mythology of the past, And by his own account, working like a gardener, he cuts and prunes, all the while editing or curating just so.
Suzanne Rheinstein works in the real and metaphorical garden, too. She embraces that symbiotic space between inside and out in artful ways. “I believe in structure and bones whether in the garden or living room. Layering texture, color progression and scale, there has to be a definite order, but in a modern way, something quirky is always invited.” “Rolex or Timex,” she demands. “The choices are always between the “high and the low. The middle is the kiss of death!”
Vision. Philosophy. Integrity. These attributes of luxury brands attract attention and respect. They attract clients that know from previous experience with design that the experience of working with them is so worth it - worthy of a premium.
“My inspiration often comes from my clients.” Eric’s have been around the world, collected objects and emotions, and referred him to others. “The acorn does not fall far from the tree,” he admits.
Naturally, Suzanne has gracious compliments for her clients. “They have informed taste in art and furniture. The most adventurous want to learn the most.”
Diamond & Baratta’s clients know “what they are in for.” Attracted to those who know who they are, Bill and Tony find their clients to be “so self-confident, so secure in themselves, and can express themselves so well, that we can take them to a new place, just for them.”
David Easton is gentlemanly, even contemplative about his clients. “I am interested in the well-being of their hearts and souls. They are seeking comfort and security in a new world order full of change, but not fearful.” Resolute to the winds of change -- “Carpe Diem” -- (seize the day), he exclaims.
I could have talked to each of them for hours, and hope you like listening-in on our conversation. There is so much more, so I will share more from our interviews with our readers next week.
In the mean time, if you would like to visit their respective websites, follow these links:
and visit www.leejofa.com to introduce yourself to their fabric collections, or read Inspired Styles available at leading book retailers.
Inspired? Let us know what else you would like to learn from these bellwethers of art, architecture and interior design. You ask. We Talk.