A chat with designer Barbara Barry during her HBF product launch at NeoCon.
Interior Design: What do you expect to get out of NeoCon this year?
Barbara Barry: Well, that's a great question, because it's kind of a homecoming. It's great being back in the building and working at HBF. I have a very fragile vision - I don't get out that much, I don't look around that much. So it's kind of as if I work in my own little bubble and it's such a technical world. This year I wanted to do something a little more modern and with metal, so it's been such an insular process. What I love about coming to NeoCon is just the response, being able to get outside yourself and the bubble and see the reaction and to be with people. Ultimately that's who's buying it, and that's who it's for.
ID: How much - if any - business will you actually transact here?
BB: No, I don't know what anything costs or when it's delivered - I don't do any of that. I'm not even sure if HBF does business. I do know that they said that they are able to write orders, and I think that's a new thing. But it's not what drives me.
ID: Based on prior years, what are the must-see booths?
BB: I just went to the Herman Miller showroom, somebody took me over, and I was so thrilled to see the Alexander Girard collection. I loved the human quality of that and how it touched us all. We all have those little icons and things we work with.
ID: Is there anything you are especially looking forward to?
BB: Going painting in Provence in five days! For two weeks, just plein-air watercolor painting, which is really difficult single tasking. We all multitask, so my body just loves doing one thing. It's the second year I'm doing it. There's 12 of us who do a course and follow a particular teacher, she's like our guru. She teaches you to be, see, and to be in Provence at that time of year is really something. Then I'm going on to London, one of my favorite cities, and kind of taking a little break for one of the first times in my career. I've just written a book and it's coming out with Rizzoli in October, so I kind of get to disappear for the summer and then resurface in the fall.
ID: Is it all work once you're here, or do you get to do/see some things just for fun?
BB: It's all work, but you know, part of being a professional is meeting and greeting people, and showing your promotion and really connecting. I find I get a lot of energy from everybody. Everybody says, oh, you must be so tired - but, hey, it's all about me, how could I be tired?! It's fun. You see old connections and make new connections, and I took a couple tour groups of design students through and tried to talk to them and ask them what they think they're looking for. The few showrooms I did see - whether it was Knoll or Herman Miller - it was really interesting to see how modernism is so here to stay, and how classic design and resolved design never dates. It's that through line for every good designer to just get something resolved that will stand the test of time.