Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inspired by: Kelly Wearstler

I have found my design soul mate. There's no one else I want to be with for the rest of my days. Kelly Wearstler: you are THE ONE.

I have long been an admirer of Kelly's work, but it was not until my darling clients Katie and James gave me the world's most thoughtful gift of a big ol' pile of design books (inspiring many more posts, I'm sure!) that I got to spend two uninterrupted hours with Kelly and her work. Page after page of Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style spoke to me... and in many ways echoed me. I heard myself in Kelly's words and saw my visions in the photos of her work. So, just like when you meet that special someone who can complete your sentences, I knew that my love for Kelly was here to stay.

By now you must know that I am endlessly charmed by language, so Kelly's crystal clear way in which she defines some of her basic design principles is amazing. I could list every pull quote from the book because so many of them are brilliant, but it is her focus on the key principle of unexpected style from so many different angles that I think is captivating:
"Eclecticism produces excitement through creative tension. Eclectic interiors may startle you at first, but its that surprising quality that hold you there and calls you back again." Two sentences that perfectly state what it took me two posts to convey (See: Unlikely Pairs and Mixed Media).

Now - I am going to say something bold here - and you are just going to have to live with it: every outfit, room, piece of stationery... you name it... is better with black. I thought that maybe I had been in New York too long because my love for black is so sincere, but after pouring over Kelly's images, I have found both a kindred spirit and a sense of validation. There is black in every room. Maybe a little or maybe a lot, but always black. I know it is not for everyone or every party (settle down, brides, I won't put black in your design if you don't want it!) but it excites me every time I see black in a good design and I never tire of it.

I could go on and on, but I'll just point out one more thing about my kindred spirit: Kelly says in her chapter on Color and Texture that "Living without color is like living without love." It seems overly dramatic, particularly in reference to event design, but her bold mantra spoke to me because of my daily interaction between color and love... weddings. Since Katie picked out this book for me, I will use her as my example (hope you don't mind, Katie!): early on when she and I were working on the design for her wedding and I had proposed a few color palettes, Katie called me one evening to say that she thought maybe she should just go with all white for her wedding. It was too hard to decide on a color palette and maybe going with white would be easier and safer so she wouldn't have to over-commit to just one shade. Katie was certainly not the first and will definitely not be the last to sing the song of white's safety to me... picking a color and using it as the main stamp on the key event of your lifetime is a BIG DEAL. Huge. Like picking your mate. You are saying to the world that you have one day to show off the essence of your life and this is the person you are picking, and this is the dress you are picking and this is the color you are picking. But here's the thing: the greater the risk, the greater the reward, in design, in life and in love. If you don't grab your chance, it will pass you by and you'll be sorry you played it safe. Please, take it from me... my wedding was white. My dining room is purple, though, so I worked it out in the end.

All photos courtesy of

In the forward of the book, famed editor Marian McEvoy says of Wearstler: "You can't enter a Wearstler environment without being challenged to inspect, touch, and wonder where she came up with her ideas." This moves me in a powerful way because when I think about the greatest compliment someone can pay me, it is to be asked "how did you think of that?" It implies that I have been creative, that I have imagined something that no one else has. And it makes me feel like I am at least a fraction of the designer I hope to be.

Get this book. It will not disappoint.

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