Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Howard Slatkin's "Fifth Avenue Style"

Interior designer and founder of home-fragrance and lifestyle brand Slatkin and Co., Howard Slatkin shares his decor and entertaining secrets as he conducts an intimate tour of his heart-stopping exquisite Fifth Avenue apartment.

When I received this gift book, wrapped in the iconic Slatkin designed logo paper, with an envelope, note and voluptuous, perfectly tied ribbon it was such a thrill.
Then to be personally signed and dedicated....just a taste of what was to come.

Please enjoy our conversation and even more facts about this most fascinating man in The World of Interior Design.

Interior designer Howard Slatkin, co-founder of the iconic lifestyle brand Slatkin and Co. is renowned for combining a keen appreciation of beauty, luxury, and superb workmanship with practical know-how. Now, in this sumptuously illustrated book, he opens the doors of his legendary Fifth Avenue apartment and invites you to accompany him on an intimate tour, not just of the main rooms, but of the service areas, closets, dressing room, and all the other intimate areas rarely seen. Along the way he shares his practical—and often ingenious—methods for creating uniquely personal rooms, shows you how to make them comfortable and functional as well as beautiful, and reveals his secrets to entertaining with ease and flair.

Howard and his beloved Winnie

Howard, thank you so much for participating in this conversation for your feature on my site. I have poured over your book “Fifth Avenue Style” page by page, lingering over every word.

Thank you !

1)      Please tell us a bit about your family background and youth. When did you found yourself interested in Interior Design?

My family's business , for three generations, was textile manufacturing and banking. From the textile business I developed a love and understanding of fabrics, as well as the disciple of running a business.  
My late mother said I was always always interested in beauty----art, decoration, gardens---- from the time I was a young boy.  My parents gave me great exposure through travel abroad, their friends and of course books. They were not indulgent with "things" as they did not want my brother and me to be spoiled, but we could get books on any subject we wanted.

Photographer Tria Giovan’s exceptional photography reveals how Howard Slatkin’s apartment—and any home—can achieve a level of sophisticated calm through careful lighting and floor planning, clever arrangement of furniture, and decorative display of personal collections of family photographs and objects. Drawing upon twenty-five years as a leading designer of fabled residences around the world, Howard Slatkin shows how rooms should flow naturally, how to create an intimate feeling, how to find imaginative solutions for turning awkward spaces and limitations into assets, and how to make one’s décor deeply personal. 

In Howard Slatkin’s hands, a simple length of rope is transformed into a decorative molding, a claustrophobic passageway becomes home to a collection of blue and white porcelains, a kitchen evolves into a room fit for a St. Petersburg palace, and a living room turns into an exotic aviary of multihued birds. Using decorative finishes, tile, and salvaged architectural elements, Slatkin has created a memorable home that is the perfect backdrop for Fifth Avenue living.

2)     As a collector of exquisite antiques, what are some of your favorite finds? (if it is possible to narrow the list at all)

It depends upon my interests at the time.  I do cherish the botanical themed works of art by three artist friends: Clare Potter, Carmen Almon and Vladimir Kanesvky. They combine my love of gardens and the natural world with extraordinary workmanship and the genius of artists.

These works of art are indeed exquisite beyond belief!

3)     Where do you find inspiration; especially for your Bespoke Interior Design Projects?

Inspiration is found everywhere---- travel, visiting museums and galleries, and seeing beautiful homes.  Recently while walking my dog Winnie ( a Norfolk terrier) in the country, a ray of light on autumn leaves inspired an embroidery design for curtains for a villa in Switzerland.  So one never knows---- the key is keep one's eyes open.

4)     When you began the process of renovation in the Fifth Avenue home, did you ever imagine it would be as glorious a work of art that it became? Did very much change from your original visions for this home?

To be honest, before the documents of the sale of the apartment were signed I knew exactly how it would look when finished, the theme for each room and the floorplan.  And it came out exactly as I imagined it would.  But do not think me a clairvoyant, remember this is my vocation---- i had been creating beautiful residences for over a decade before I bought the apartment.

5)     Who are some designers you admire and mentors who have encouraged you along the way in your amazing career?

I was enormously lucky to be introduced to the late Henri Samuels and the late Lorenzo Mongiardino at the start of my career-----a miracle of sorts, as they were the designers whose work I most admired and was drawn to.  Both designers took me under their wing, and were so generous with their time and sharing of sources and how they created their magical interiors.  They taught me so much, perhaps most importantly to dream, and to follow one's own path and not be influenced by trends or what is in the magazines.

6)     Howard you have designed for royalty and the most elite of the world; how has this shaped you as a person? How have these experiences affected your own design aesthetic?

I have learned so much from my clients. When people know how to live beautifully in their homes, how to receive and entertain with grace and refinement and comfort, it is a gift they share.  And I do think that knowing how to live well and beautifully at home has informed my work more than anything else. That is why the residences I do, really work-----I have been exposed to how to live beautifully at home, how a well run house, and life, are done.

7)     I do not know of anyone who puts as much detail and refinement into everything as you do. Tell us about your quest for perfection?

I don't know about "perfection", which is a tricky and complex word fraught with so many meanings.  I like "perfect" rooms if defined as beautiful, comfortable, and reflective of the lifestyle of the owners.  And things done by expert craftsmen, of great quality. But not if the word insinuates sterility or an uncomfortable atmosphere-----those rooms are dead.

Yes, I do mean perfection from the standpoint of the attention to details, the expectation of the finest works and finishes, embroidery and fabrics, turned into works of art themselves. The home where owners are proud holders of a legacy. A home that is comfortable and even if it is  on a velvet chaise, one is not afraid to put up their feet to read and relax!

8)     Howard, Readers would like to know:
What are your favorite vacation getaways? Your homes away from NYC you have acquired and enjoy?

My own homes are my favorites, and I like visiting friends and staying at their homes---- in much the same way that I always would rather eat in a home than a restaurant.  The New Jersey countryside, Chilmark, East Hampton and London are my places, they give me pleasure and recharge me.   

India also gives endless inspiration, as does Germany, France and England.

Where do you love to shop; For Antiques, for Attire, for Art and Accessories?

Really everywhere, both high and low---- the flea market and the greatest dealers, as homes benefit from the whole range. And auctions, both here and abroad, are where I find many treasures.  And online there exists the whole world.

What candles do you love the most and Fragrances?

My favorites and the ones I use exclusively are Nest Fragrances, they are by far the best quality and with the most alluring scents.  And they really infuse a room with scent.  I love their Bamboo, Moroccan Amber, Passion, Blue Garden, Pear....i could go on and on.   It depends upon my mood, the time of year and the location.  I cannot live without scent at home.

Howard I look forward to scattering Nest Candles about the home for the holidays this year. I have given them as gifts to the receivers delight!

Do you collect particular artist’s works?

I have very catholic tastes---- from Florentine artists of the Renaissance to French Impressionists to Picasso and Matisse and Twombly.  But i suppose if I could only select one it would be Picasso, he is like ten genius artists in one, his work never ceases to give pleasure.

What does Howard do to relax? What are favorite pastimes?

Reading is an enormous part of my life, I have so much admiration for writers and their gift to us.  Ones I cherish and reread are Tolstoy, Trollope, Chekhov, Waugh.....I could go on and on.  I have always loved dogs and being with mine is my favorite way to spend time.  And I am very close to my family and cherished friends---- they are how I most like to spend my time.

Thank you again Howard, I cherish the opportunity to have you as a friend in The Interior Design World..

Mark your calendars! Howard's upcoming "Tastemaker Tag Sale" on One Kings Lane!

This event runs from November 2 at 8:00 a.m. Pacific until November 5 at 8:00 a.m. Pacific and is comprised of over 250 lots of design books and over 250 lots of furniture, linens, glassware, serving ware and various other objects. 
All of Howard's proceeds from the sale are going to be donated to charity. 

Thank you to all of my friends and readers who support The Arts!

Art by Karena

In appreciation of  Vendome Press
Images Courtesy of Vendome Press and  Tria Giovan
Review Copy Courtesy of Howard Slatkin
Howard generously gives credit to all of those he has worked with, including the extremely talented artisans who have worked on his homes and many other client's homes.


Unknown said...

Thank you so much Karena for your beautiful editorial, and for all your time and generosity. As a big fan of your blog it is a great honor to have you write about my book. And your questions were brilliant, they really got me to reflect. Thank you very much, All best wishes, Howard

Karena said...

The pleasure is all mine, Howard. You are a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

Review "Fifth Avenue Style"

Stacy CUrran said...

Oh no, yet another book that i absolutely need!

Lisa Mende Design said...

Great post. I adore Howard Slatkin!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

I love this post! The interview is wonderful, so nice to hear the author in his own words. Thank you for sharing this beautiful book.

Burlap Luxe said...

Hello sweet beautifully soulful Karena,
You alway put together such a beautiful post when it comes to artist or designers. And this post is no exception.
I love his book, I don't own it but would if I spent anytime with it in my hands. If I still had my much larger home I would find myself introducing finer pieces of grandeur with a grace of age to it. Yet in my smaller cottage its and easy fit to mix a passion with flea market finds and piece of cost that I have stumbled across apon in some hidden in-noticed thrift shop or tag sale.

The designer in me wants to have a home for each design style just to decorate with passion :)
But when I am doing an estate model home that's where I get to move away from all my collecting and design in a fashion of awwww inspiring rich opalence.

Thank you for this beautiful share.

Off to see what I can tweak in my home now.



Health and love your way.


Dovecote Decor said...

How much fun to interview Howard Slatkin. Rizzoli took a lot of my money during market, but I have to have this book. Thanks for visiting my post on High Point it was so much fun this year!!

Dovecote Decor said...

How much fun to interview Howard Slatkin. Rizzoli took a lot of my money during market, but I have to have this book. Thanks for visiting my post on High Point it was so much fun this year!!

Kori said...

Thanks for a great post honey! Just another book I need to get asap! Kori xoxo

Francine Gardner said...

Thank you for such a great interview.I truly enjoyed it. What an amazing accomplished life!

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