It was a full house last week at the Pacific Design Center for the annual Fall Market, which kicked-off with a keynote presentation celebrating of Traditional Home magazine’s 25th anniversary.
Tradition and history are coded within the magazine’s editorial identity, and moderator Krissa Rossbund, Senior Style Editor, invited design panelists Chris Barrett, Trip Haenisch and Jamie Bush to contextualize the past 25 years with a discussion about everything from the changes in the design industry to the evolution of their careers and personal experiences along the way.
Krissa Rossbund, Chris Barrett, Jamie Bush and Trip Haenisch
The group began with a conversation addressing the accessibility of affordable design in the marketplace, and the myriad of problems that such a trend can create for the industry, namely that clients might misunderstand the role of a designer as a curator, forgo originality and quality, and opt to turn their house into a living catalogue.
“Sometimes you have to help the client understand that you’re not just shopping for furniture, that you’re not just buying fabric,” said Barrett. “You are creating a feeling and you are creating a lifestyle. And sometimes they don’t get that, and that’s when they say, ‘well I can just get that cheaper.’ It’s not about that. ”
“You have to figure out what is important to them,” added Haenisch. “You have to create a situation where they do want to collaborate and listen to you.”
Chris Barrett, Jamie Bush and Trip Haenisch
“I think the difference is design can cost a tremendous amount of money, but it’s not just about the aesthetic,” said Bush. “It’s also this inner peace the clients now have that everything is perfect. When you have a client that is ecstatic it is very satisfying.”
Rossbund then explained how shelter publications have evolved to get to the refined, edited aesthetic they have now and asked panelists about the evolution of their own work, particularly if they had any regrets or moments when they thought they nailed it.
“I was just starting out and working for a well-known author,” shared Barrett. “I was completely intimidated by her. We upholstered her kitchen in a floral fabric with padding so she didn’t have to hear the pots and pans. So embarrassing, I would never do that again.”
“Looking back 25 years ago with Phillippe Stark and Kelly Wearstler, it was all about theatrics and wow-factors,” said Bush. “I remember making a lily pad ceiling of light fixtures with Crate & Barrel glass dishes. I would never do that now, but it was things that had an effect rather than a quality or lasting duration.”
Fall Market attendees
Fast forward two decades, Rossbund asked the designers how they think technology has influenced design, and how they incorporate it into their businesses.
“I can’t even imagine not having the Internet,” said Bush. “It’s an amazing tool. I just purged my entire physical catalogue library. But one downside is the life span and the appetite for newness and for something unique. At the highest level, people are jaded.”
Barrett noted how technology has changed the discovery of style icons.
“Long ago style icons were made because they were known for their great work and now, people are made because they know how to market themselves,” she said. “You can be a brilliant designer, but if you don’t know about social media or don’t buy into that, apparently you’re not that good. Also, speed. Everybody wants everything really fast. It’s impossible to do really good design really fast.“
“A lot of people in the past were discovered later,” said Bush. “Now it happens more quickly because of awareness and the ability to find out about people. Things are happening so rapidly and being created quickly.”
Rossbund went on to ask who or what was a favorite icon of each of the panelists.
“I love John Salidino,” said Barrett. “I can’t think of an icon whose work I just savor. Kelly Wearstler I think is an icon. She’s not necessarily my style, but she deserves to be a designer.”
Bush, on the other hand, was in awe of Philippe Stark’s Royalton Hotel, which he experienced in 1989.
“I think design is now so derivative, so when somebody does something that you’ve never seen and it is fresh and beautiful, it’s amazing. [The Royalton Hotel] was amazing. I had the same feeling about a Michael Taylor job in the 80’s. It was so original and fresh.”
Rossbund concluded the event by asking the panelists to complete the sentence, “Design in 2014 is…”
“I think design in 2014 is accessible,” said Barrett to which Haenisch agreed.
“I think it is a personal endeavor,” added Bush.
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