Which “traditional” design rule(s) do you swear by? The only rule that I truly swear by is this: know the rules and the reasons for them. That is not to say I always follow the rules, but if I am going to break them, I try to be intentional, purposeful. I ask myself why this traditional rule exists, and what I am trying to accomplish by breaking it.
Things become classic for a reason. Take scale and proportion, for example. The traditional rules for scale and proportion developed over thousands of years of art, architecture, and design—an almost Darwinian survival of the most visually appealing ratios. In this sense, it’s more science than art, and not to be deviated from without some very compelling reasons.
Which design rule(s) do you break? Besides scale and proportion, I pretty much break them all; although I don’t necessarily break them often or at the same time. Traditionalism is the foundation upon which my design is built and from where it grows. But with that said, I don’t feel limited or imposed upon by rules. They are the starting point of a thought process in which I ask myself what am I trying to achieve, and what is the best way to achieve it.
Do you have favorite “traditional” design elements? I feel that there is just so much more in this world to discover and learn, and with each discovery, my tastes, my style, my perspective continues to evolve. Therefore, it is hard for me to pick “favorites." I would say, however, that currently my eye is drawn to traditional Scandinavian elements, and that minimalism, neutral tones, and streamlined forms are showing their heads in my design.
Which iconic interior designer(s) do you admire and feel are still relevant today? Furniture and/or product designer(s)? Jean-Michel Frank is just a timeless great. His design is about editing, reducing things to their core elements, shapes and forms, and revealing them for their true beauty instead of trying to dress them up. It is minimalism, but a sumptuous minimalism.
What design eras inspire you? You’ll probably begin to notice a trend here, but right now I am finding so much inspiration from the Art Deco period, especially as it evolved from the opulence and extravagance of the Jazz Age and became more sculptural and edited (but before it fully transitioned to stark and utilitarian modernism).
Which antiques or vintage designs do you think have held up over time and play well with today’s updated traditional interiors? I think just about any antique or vintage design can play well with an updated, traditional interior, given the right context. Billy Baldwin’s slipper chair and the Keegan serpentine sofa certainly come to mind. But really, it’s about the specific spaces, and how the modern elements interact with and shape your perception of the vintage design. Furniture, art, and architecture are all representations of the times in which they were created, but how we perceive them is as much about us, our sentiments, and the context in which we experience them as it is about the period of their creation.
Give us a couple of examples of modern and traditional design elements that work well together. Really, combining elements is about creating a cohesive but interesting composition. The key is using contrast to achieve a desired result. I think of ornate millwork with primitive, wide plank, oak floors. Fontana Arte alongside a silk velvet upholstered piece.
What is a classic color combination that still feels fresh? Wedgwood, Jasperware blue-and-white. It’s a slight distinction from plain blue and white, but that distinct, matte blue with crisp white contrast feels like it will always be chic.
Do you have a favorite go-to palette at the moment? While I don’t have a specific go-to color, my go-to palette incorporates subtle, tonal variations. This speaks to where my eye is right now, with the soothing palettes setting the stage and mood.
How would you define today’s “new traditional” design? Today's “new traditional” design is very much about honoring classic design, shapes, and proportions, but also being livable and without pretense. It’s about being strongly rooted, and therefore able to grow and evolve into what we want it to be AND what we need it to be for our modern lifestyles. It’s not tradition for tradition’s sake; it is tradition for what it can do for us, for how it makes us feel, and for how it allows us to create something even greater than the sum of it parts.
How would you describe your personal design style? My style is about the combination of new and old, custom made and custom found. And ultimately, it is about stripping away the superfluous in order to allow each aspect of the design to be seen and heard as they interact within the composition. Hopefully, my design is not static, but an ever-growing, evolving thing that attempts to defy easy definition.