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Date published: April 04 2017

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I love bending old, familiar themes and styles into fresh, new discoveries

Time is the best design partner. There’s a rhythm and movement to homes where the classics of one generation fold in with the next.

Even in my native L.A. where stylish sets are always hunting the latest and greatest, the most prevailing trend I see is a yearning to connect to something so truly, and so purely classic.

It’s a desire to be part of a larger story, to surround oneself with things that vibrate history which also feel relevant and ever-so-beautifully in sync with rooms today.

Blame all that beautiful eye candy on Instagram, Pinterest and our favourite shopping sites. My clients are casting their nets wider than ever before, and digging in deeper to discern
what it is they love about every new find. They’re inspired by Scandinavian Modernism, Mid-Century Modernism, Brutalism, Postmodernism and countless more iconic moments outside of -isms. Even the Renaissance is on replay, but for reasons that relate directly to modern living.

Finding a new perspective on the old has always been critical to good design, but so too is imparting a sense of history to the new. Subtly done is best. I like to look for avenues of crossover and, usually, a few cross-interests. The reality of designing for a cutting-edge Internet entrepreneur nesting inside a grand, Gilded-age home with exuberant moldings, for example, begged unexpected juxtapositions. Think Bogie plus Bacall or Gwen and Blake: Marriages of opposites that feel richer and more alluring together than apart. Very different from the trend for ‘eclectic’ rooms years ago, the goal now is a room where everything is deemed essential, choiceful and, most importantly, intimately connected to their owner’s uniquely
evolving narrative. After all, what is a well-designed room if not a really good story? Imagine the power of a script written with you alone in mind.

No one likes to be left behind on what’s new. That’s why I love opportunities to bring the past forward.

I love bending old, familiar themes and styles into fresh, new palpable moments of discovery. Like my hero, the legendary Elsie de Wolfe, I want to deliver comfort while also breaking from expectations in a revealing new light. Surprising clients with unpredictable vignettes is one avenue of approach for me, and product design another: A Chippendale bracket executed minimally in glossy grey lacquer and clear resin, for instance, or a classical urn that contrasts a sleek, modern brass polish with a hammered interior reminiscent of global handcraft. I want these pieces - like my rooms - to have depth and to reveal themselves slowly.

I’ve always been a strong proponent that beautiful rooms aren’t my job. Instead, I want the homes I create for my clients to serve them holistically. I titled my book ‘Homefront’ to coin a more active word for the spaces that divert our attention away from modern life’s usual distractions (buzzing phones, texts and status updates, to name a few) long enough to rest and regenerate our senses.

Rooms and moments that feel transporting, yet work for the here and now. In other words, a design story so well told and retold that - familiar or not - its details enthrall in every subsequent telling. 

Designer: Windsor Smith

Author: Windsor Smith

Company: Windsor Smith Home

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