By Sarah Gallop
Let start by expelling the myth: you don’t need to design a young royal’s yacht to get featured in a national publication. Nor do you need a celebrity’s mansion, a private jet, or a financier’s Balinese summer villa. Of course, these things may help your chances! But more notably, and we are seeing this more and more, you need something—anything—that captures beauty and efficacy in its own inimitable way. In the words of Paige Rense, nothing is too small, or too simple, to be overlooked. Brand-new or classic, whimsical or unforgettable, magazines want something unique.
Take the current cover of The New York Times Home & Garden section. What could possibly be unique about a renovated 1913 tutor home with no landscaping and no designer in Akron, Ohio? And yet, further probing reveals that the eccentric owner David Giffels once “tried to evict squirrels from the house by playing guitar really loudly,” and that he personally re-caulked the house’s 733 windowpanes. Most notably, he is debt-free.
Now that, Rense would agree, is distinctive. Just as distinctive as the leather matchbook cover and the Japanese tea whisk recently featured in the pages of Architectural Digest , or the simple art deco of Dominique, covered in the May issue of Elle Décor , but wowing the design world for the past 85 years.
How does this affect your designs? In the words of former House and Garden editor Mayer Rus, a national publication needs a project with flair, and not just a bit. Mansion or condo, the designer needs to push the impulses he or she has to give the space IMPACT. So should you spice things up with interesting trends or tap into Bas paintings or Nakashima-esque benches? Not necessarily, as the trends you use could be stale by the time the project is completed—or worse, cliché (ahem, Hermès orange and brown). First and foremost, you must be yourself. Push your own boundaries, personalize your point of view, and heed this advice: make it beautiful, make it utilitarian, but most of all make it different.
By Sarah Gallop