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Where Does Inspiration Come From?
"Inspiration, Creativity and The Design Process” is the topic of a panel discussion being sponsored by Luxe magazine that I will be participating in this Thursday at the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) in Ft. Lauderdale. While I was organizing my slides for it, I realized they would also make for an interesting blog.
Designers are inspired by so many different things, so the idea of limiting oneself to seven ideas, as I had to for this talk, would be difficult for anyone. I have narrowed my list and shown how the ideas ended up manifesting themselves in my designs. Inspirations can be so non sequitur and happily, I find so many of them. I thought it would be appropriate to share them here.
New Orleans photo by Kerri McCaffety
The living room of my apartment in New Orleans is decorated with a mural I designed with the help of DeGornay. The mural shows scenes from the Mississippi, partly inspired by illustrations from a childhood book, “The Story of the Mississippi” by C. H. Dewitt. The colors selected for the design are ones often found in Creole rooms.
Hudson River mural photo by Jonathan Wallen
This next image shows another custom mural, also produced with the help of DeGornay, of an 18th-century view of the Hudson River, shown here in the bedroom of a house we recently decorated. The design was inspired by old aquatint studies of the Hudson (upper right) and French scenic wallpaper designs (lower right) such as the “Vues d’Amérique du Nord.” We thought placing the mural in a bedroom was unusual. Because the house is Georgian, the bedroom ended up being especially large and the wallpaper gave it warmth and abridged the architectural elements.
Settee photo by William Waldron
This settee in this front parlor of a New York City townhouse was inspired by one designed by the great decorator, Renzo Mongiardino (his design at right.) His way of layering colors and textures in unusual ways created a lush, rich effect. I realize that there is a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism and I must admit a strong debt here.
Stair photo by William Waldron; Thomas Jayne’s loft photo by Thomas Jayne
Yellow glass is used with great success in Sir John Soane’s Museum (right image) and I have employed it in the skylight of my New York apartment (middle) and in the staircase of a New York townhouse (maybe some of you read my earlier blog on yellow light which discusses this.)
This new carpet design for Stark is based on a design from the collections of Candace Wheeler (lower right), a great textile designer in the early 1900’s. The interior is of Darius Sakhai’s apartment which I decorated.
I think ceramics are a wonderful source for inspiration because there are so many bright, beautiful colors and interesting designs to choose from. This one is derived from a snippet of a document design from the Minton archives.
I designed a furniture collection for the Preservation Society of Newport (also known as Newport Mansions), that incorporated various reproductions and adaptations, including this “coaching bed.” I wanted to update the idea of an 18th-century four poster bed and called upon the 19th-century tradition of sending your furniture to the coachmaker to have it repainted and striped, just like a coach. The use of coaches continues to be part of the traditions at Newport as you can see from the photograph of a coaching party in front of The Breakers, one of the Newport Preservation Society’s great houses. The other detail is a coach from The Breaker’s collection that helped to spur us on.
Of course, we can find inspiration everywhere and hope you found some ideas here. Wish me luck on Thursday.