It is not commonplace that three powerhouse designers collaborate in the design of one moderately sized room. But then again, the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club is known for wooing some of the most celebrated designers, convincing them to put aside international shopping jaunts, TV celebrity and uber demanding clients to make NYC a little prettier through the design mecca, a/k/a: The Kips Bay Decorator Show House.
In the first of his interviews with some of the brightest and well know talent at Kips Bay, Charles Pavarini III, Chairman of the Designer Committee, interviews each of Bunny Williams, Brian McCarthy and David Kleinberg (the new Trifecta) delving into why they chose to participate in Kips Bay, what in the showhouse stood out to each of them and in what way the Living Room they designed together is a tribute to Albert Hadley.
CP: Bunny, you are so generous with your time and efforts and active in a wide range of charitable endeavors. You have been involved with Kips Bay for many years, and this year you are the acting Chairwoman of the entire event. Why the Kips Bay Show House and what does it mean to you?
Bunny: Kips Bay means so much to me on two accounts. First as a vehicle to show house the best design talent, to support our industry and to give access and exposure to anyone interested in their own home. It is so much richer being able to walk into a room than just looking at a picture.
And then there of course are the girls and boys of Kips Bay. In one visit to the club house, you become committed and all of our efforts at the show house make their programs possible.
CP: How do you see your role as Chairwoman? Have you made any changes this year?
Bunny: Kips Bay has a few dedicated people who make this all happen. It is not the work of one person. I guess my role was to try to give the show house a bit different twist and to help focus on what needed to be done.
CP: Your interior designs and home furnishings are above all classic and timeless. That being said, do you think there are trends in design? If so, what trends have popped-up at the Show House this year.
Bunny: This year's show house is music to my ears. Color is back. There were so many uses of color - some strong, others as accents. The other things I saw, which to me is not a trend, were the wonderful combinations of interesting furniture, art and accessories, all of varying styles and periods that really showed the talent of the designers.
CP: As hard to believe as it may be, you have managed to find an entire day free to decompress after all your hard work for Kips Bay? We can fly you anywhere. Where would you like to go, and what would you do?
Bunny: Only one day? I would take a day in a beautiful rural countryside where there were no shops, houses or many people. I love looking at cows grazing, vineyard hills of grapes. Any place where it is about nature.
CP: What does the Kips Bay Show House mean to you?
Brian: Kips Bay has been a wonderful platform for decorators to showcase their talents for decades.
CP: This year’s Designer Show House has been referred to as a tribute to Albert Hadley. In what way does the living room evoke memories of him? Are there any favorite aspects of the room that you want to share.
Brian: The room evokes memories of Albert through the blocks of color and eclecticism of its furnishings melding the 18th with the 21st century. And the black sisal on the floor is an Albert trademark. The Corbusier tapestry is my favorite element in the room.
CP: What is it like when 3 major names in design collaborate in the design of one moderately sized room? How did you all approach it?
Brian: Having come from the same starting point and given that the 3 of us approach organization and decoration in similar ways, despite what everyone else might have thought, it was incredibly easy. The shape and size of the space essentially dictated the plan and the design.
CP: In your opinion, do you see the Show House as having pushed design forward? Were there any new approaches, materials or other elements that were innovative and new, yet are here to stay?
Brian: I can't say that I personally saw anything new but hey, its my job to have already seen it all and I think my fellow talented participants feel the same. Most importantly what Kips Bay showed is that good design is timeless no matter what period you are evoking.
CP: Like Bunny, Brian and others participating designers at the Show House, you spent a portion of your career at the esteemed firm of Parish Hadley. What is it about working at Parish Hadley that made it breeding ground for the who’s who of design?
David: Long before the term creative lab became vogue, PARISH-HADLEY was just that– a place teaming with young, ambitious people allowed to dream alongside two incredibly talented people. PARISH-HADLEY encouraged designers to not only hone their skills but to cultivate clients. In a sense, we were expected to run our own little shops under the umbrella and support of this revered design firm. This was empowering and the system expected us to bring our best. It was immersion at its best – similar to moving to a foreign country to learn the language rather than studying it for years from afar.
CP: Were there any rooms in this year’s Show House that left an impression on you? If so, which one(s) and why?
David: Alexa Hampton’s bedroom was spot on. It represented the best of classical decorating in the most modern environment. Good decorating is about timelessness and she unequivocally captured that.
CP: Would you like to see next year’s Show House return to a prewar townhouse or find a home in another sleek box-like high rise?
David: Not especially. Moving to different decorating environments challenges designers in a real world way. It’s interesting to see how designers respond when not addressing a perfectly proportioned Georgian-style room.
Thank you x 3 to Bunny, Brian and David.