Interior Design: Indulging a Passion
Shelter magazines have been an addiction ever since my cousin and I furnished our first apartment with Knoll knock-offs from a store in Greenwich Village called Bon Marche. (Those who share my addiction probably also share my complete inability to toss my basement stash of old issues.)
Since then, there is almost nothing better than curling up with the latest issue of Architectural Digest, Elle Décor (US and UK editions), Interior Design, or Metropolitan Home (miss that one!), to name a few. Internet versions don’t do anything for me. The printed page is such a better way to peek into other peoples’ homes and think about what they say about their owners, why some are so beautiful, welcoming and conducive of conversation--and others are just not.
As one might expect, I tried to absorb some lessons from those magazines, as well as from friends and experts along the way, into my own homes. I learned, for example, that light switches should be low so as not to interrupt the hanging of stuff on the wall. But, bottom line, it’s all been very much seat of the pants. I look back with horror and laughter at some of my more egregious mistakes--a way too large crystal chandelier being just one of many. Who knew that a chandelier should sit at least 30 inches above a table?
So, in anticipation of having some free time, I eagerly signed up for a design course. Parsons was my first stop for a course in space design (didn’t love) and then one about drawing floor plans (total disaster, will never ever be able to draw perfect lines of different widths with a T square). I soon realized that, not wanting to become a design professional, I did not need or want these kinds of courses. Either too basic or too much work. Not my thing.
I switched schools to the New York School of Interior Design and found the perfect class, Daniella Ohad's “Collecting Design.” At first I signed up for the night course, but then--why would I do that? So I switched. Two hours, one morning a week. One hour a Daniella lecture and one usually with a guest (a gallery owner, a collector, a museum curator—all tops in their fields): Hugue Magen (a dancer turned gallerist collecting French postwar design), Nicholas Kilner (Italian postwar), Carole Hochman of Friedman Benda (contemporary), Christian Larsen from the Met on mid-century Brazilian design. Nirvana.
“Collecting Design” is about what makes something collectible. But to understand that, I now know you have to understand what the tastemakers and artisans were saying about the times in which they lived. It’s the difference between the original made at that time, and the copy--no matter how good--which is not. The history, the slides of rooms and furniture and people are mesmerizing.
Daniella is totally engaging too--smart, knowledgeable and insightful, stylish to the hilt, nice, engaging. And her devotees--who continue to take her classes semester after semester--are of the same ilk. Two have become very good friends.
Highly recommended for those who share my passion. It’s a feast for the mind, the eye and the soul.