Day of Design at the Mayflower Grace

July 10, 2015

Text by Stacy Kunstel 

“Doing it yourself is like a home birth,” says Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen, who has delivered hundreds of children. “Take my advice and hire an interior designer.” That was just one of the kernels of truth heard at the second annual Day of Design at the Mayflower Grace resort a few weeks ago.

I learned some new design terms along the way as well. I was introduced to “art-ish, roomscaping, OTC,” and “space destinations.”

Here’s the scene—one of the most beautiful hotel settings in New England with gardens abloom, fluffy clouds passing over lush trees, and a group of design luminaries, authors, enthusiasts, and the curious all gathered on sofas and chairs for informal talks about everything design.

But let’s get to my vocabulary lesson. These are definitions attributed to the pros, not moi. And it was a pretty sophisticated crowd.

Art-ish—“Art by newly minted or self-declared artists with no formal training that decorators use in lieu of fine art in homes,” according to New England Home Editor, Kyle Hoepner. There were a number of people who backed him up on this, including gallery owner Kathy Root of KMR Arts and a few interior designers.

Roomscaping—New York-based designer Justin Shaulis explained it as creating a landscape in a space, giving people places to sit, perch, place a drink and move.

OTC—“over the couch.” As in he bought some OTC art just to get that room finished so the client could properly summer there.” I think it was one of the attendees who introduced the rest of us to the term, but it was claimed by everyone immediately.

Space destinations—These are moments or places in a room that draw your eye or attention to them, making them a destination says Alan Tanksley, whose Kips Bay room I raved about a few weeks ago.

There were a few sessions in the morning, a beautiful lunch on the terrace and a few sessions in the afternoon. There were discussions about bold spaces, art, wallpaper, gardening, lifestyle choices and how to manage collections.

Designer Kati Curtis talked about creating spaces that felt like a refuge in houses and I learned from Philip Gorrivan that he completely disapproves of wallpaper being on one wall of a room only (“It always looks like a value proposition, not design when that happens.” Read: they cheaped out when I wanted to wallpaper the ceiling and all four walls in the bedroom.) Alan Tanksley discussed working with collections and how respectful designers have to be in dealing with things that people love.

The PDR of the day (that’s the piéce de résistance because we’re talking about a Frenchman) was the discussion between author Suzanna Salk and designer Robert Courtier. Robert (pronounced roh-BARE), is just about as entertaining as it gets, particularly when talking about his very private clients for whom he designs 150,000-square-foot houses all over the world. In one anecdote he described the reaction of a client when the butler told her there was a full apartment in the house she was unaware of—she chose to continue to ignore it. One of the best quotes I jotted down though was Robert talking about our relationships with houses:

“It’s all emotional. You can’t have an intellectual relationship with a house. If you do it’s going to be very dry.”

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