Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 12/1/2000 12:00:00 AM
Barbara Barry has been celebrated for her refined style, characterized by a lush palette of subdued tones, furniture graced with sensual lines and delicate proportions, and a distinctly Californian, laid-back glamour. In short, sleek environments that are the very picture of elegance and luxury. But Barry's real genius is her devotion to detail, her carefully-orchestrated interiors in which every element has been selected to inspire calm and tranquility.
Trained at San Francisco's Academy of Art College, Barry suffuses her work with a painterly touch. Her artist's eye conjures a subtle range of hues-sage, ochre, seafoam, taupe-within a restrained color scheme. Texture, line, and pattern harmonize in pleasing visual rhythms. But cinema may be a more apt metaphor for the Los Angeles-based designer's work, and not just because her star-studded client list is peppered with Hollywood heavy-hitters like Michael Ovitz, Darren Star, and Victoria Principle. Akin to a set designer, Barry composes feature-length productions, overseeing every variable of the mise-en-scène from the upholstery to the water decanters to, in some cases, how the linens are folded. She delights in the minute. Yet despite Barry's panoptic approach, her quietly luxe interiors feel effortless, never overproduced.
Barry founded her Los Angeles-based firm in 1985 to focus on residential projects of the decidedly upscale variety. After launching Barbara Barry Home, her private accessories division for clients, Barry increasingly turned her talents to product design, entering licensing arrangements with such manufacturers as Baker, HBF, McGuire, Boyd Lighting, Tufenkian Rugs, and Baccarat Crystal. Her collections-which include furniture, fixtures, textiles, and china-have met with great acclaim, further solidifying her status as an international tastemaker. Barry's diverse output is united by her trademark style, rooted in a breezy, mix-and-match classicism that avoids the trappings of nostalgia.
Recently, the prolific Barry has expanded her domain to include contract design. She has developed retail programs for Brooks Brothers' Manhattan flagship store and for the Avon Center Salon and Spa in Trump Tower. Both projects showcase her flair for creating order and intimacy within an expansive floor plan, a talent also evident in her residential program to house and display the vast holdings of art collectors Peter and Eileen Norton.
Barry's oeuvre, which has been extensively published, is a paean to gracious living. Eschewing drama for poetry, Barry creates environments that are true sanctuaries.