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Date published: September 09 2015

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We have a desire to live fabulously with beautiful things says James Howard

I have spent the greatest majority of my teenage and adult life surrounded by and focused on the world of interiors. There is no doubt to anyone who knows me well, or even by reputation that I have immersed myself into every effort to design and build a better house. It has been my passion for over 40 years, and I zealously wake each day to learn something new, and do something better. Through the components of architecture, art and furnishings a house is assembled, really as a laboratory and showcase of the perspective and wishes of its owners.  For better or worse the parts are assembled and built and you get what you asked for and selected. 

When my children were young, I would take them individually to New York every year for a weekend with dad, and to tour the Kips Bay Boys Club show house. It was their price to pay for going to NY for some fun, and in spite of their lack of enthusiasm they embarked on a tour of some of the finest homes in America. Ironically they always asked; why are these homes so different, so extraordinary and so beautiful?  My answer, of course, was because they were built by, assembled by, and designed by the greatest talents in the world of architecture and interior design. 

To my greatest surprise and joy, it was those experiences and exposure to so many beautiful places that ultimately led two of my children into the world of interior design. Their vision while based in those experiences has veered.  

They are wildly interested in new things. They love to read blogs that expose them to new things that are happening, new trends, and how history and our past are influencing these trends. They are seeing the world of fashion influence textile designs, architects that are designing furniture, as we have never seen before. Today, people are travelling to obscure and distant places and experiencing things from Morocco, Cuba, India, Italy, France and many more. The birth of design schools such as SCAD, the New School, and RISD are enlightening young minds to where we have been, but most importantly where we are going. 

I see the influences of the 20th century shaping the things to come.  Scandinavian, Finnish, and Danish designs of the 1930’s were profound. Characterized by bold clean lines and simple sturdy symmetries, it helped kick start other artists of the time to re-imagine the decorative arts, particularly in 1940s France and beyond.  Italian furniture and household items of the 1930’s are fetching record prices in the marketplace. I consider 1st Dibs to be one of the strongest influences in design and furniture of our time, and when you open page after page, the redundant message of the decorative arts is that the 1930’s continue to be the most profound moment influencing design today. Those Modern influences and the knowledge of what those designers created will continue to be pushed by and progressed by our rising stars.  What we shall see is new forms and shapes that will emerge from things we have seen in our past, and will evolve in the future.  Craftsmanship is the foundation of our future, as it is what withstands the hands of time, but today we want our lives to be a bit simpler, less fussy and complex. As we yearn for comfort, we cannot resist the need for self-expression and that innate desire to live fabulously with beautiful things. To be modern, attractive, and happy.

Author: James Howard

Company: Sherrill Furniture

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