MEET THE DESIGNER
A LAWYER, AN AUTHOR AND AN ETIQUETTE COLUMNIST ADD UP TO ONE DYNAMIC DESIGNER
You're penning an etiquette column for The New York Times. What inspired "Social Q's?" It's about the sticky situations we encounter at work and at home and in our social and romantic lives. People ask questions; I give my opinion; and then I get about a million emails telling me how wrong I am! Which is exactly the way it should be—no one has all the answers. How does this relate to interior design? Design is pretty similar. There's never a single way to approach anything—whether it's an awkward date or a tricky interior. I just like to get everybody talking, and eventually, the possibilities emerge. Basically, I try to harness all the opinions in a beautiful way. You're also a lawyer. What motivated you to pursue design? As a lawyer, I love to find the right deal for my clients—which usually involves a smart compromise and some very precise language. I've always had a powerful interest in aesthetics, too. I started by designing my own places and, as they were published, people began asking if I would work with them on their homes. Whose work do you admire? I love Pierre Chareau. The Maison de Verre in Paris is just about perfect. As to the living, I really admire Joe D'Urso's new work; and as an architect and person, my boyfriend, Michael Haverland, is the best thing since sliced bread. What inspires you? People who are daring, even if they fail—especially when they fail. What is your East Hampton home like? It's a very simple steel and glass box, with old brass hardware and fittings. We've layered in our collection of midcentury furniture and contemporary art and 300 yards of drapes. I love it! Are there any trends you avoid? I don't like "tasteful" interiors, where you can't see anything of the lives of the people who live there. I'd rather see an ugly living room than a generic one that looks like it's from a Pottery Barn catalog. What are some of your favorite materials/resources? Most of my clients are into modernist interiors, which I love, but which can sometimes feel a little hard and cold. So I like to include textiles—draperies and soft old rugs—to balance things out. For furniture shopping, I'm all about RE Steele Antiques in East Hampton. Do you have any etiquette tips for our readers? When someone cuts you off on Rt. 27, don't freak out—just go to BookHampton and buy my new book Emma's Table. It starts with a Nakashima table being sold at auction, which sets off a crazy chain of events. Under the surface, it's a book about how how we manage to go on in the wake of all the failures and hurts and humiliations that are inevitably a part of our lives. Read it and you'll see that everybody gets what's coming to them in the end!