Editor’s Miscellany: Philip Gorrivan, Nature and New England

March 17, 2011

New York designer Philip Gorrivan was at the Boston Design Center this week introducing his new fabric collection for Duralee’s Highland Court division. I went to hear his talk, since the work of his I’ve seen has tended to make me a fan.

Gorrivan’s own New York apartment, as featured in the December 2009 issue of Elle Decor. Photo by William Waldron. Click to see the whole story.

He has a particular gift for using bold blocks of color to create overall effects that are paradoxically calm, even subdued. The hues themselves and their combinations can often be unexpected in a way that is a bit reminiscent of Jeffrey Bilhuber.

The living room of Gorrivan’s apartment in Elle Decor. Photo by William Waldron.

A different New York dining room. Photo courtesy of Philip Gorrivan.

He likes to pair these colored swaths with chunks of pattern, especially strong geometric pattern, and frequently on the floor. (Ceilings–see living room above–are often patterned, too, but in subtler fashion.)

A living room in New York. Photo courtesy of Philip Gorrivan.

A living room in Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Philip Gorrivan.

One surprising thing was the number of New England influences he cited for his design thinking, yet in retrospect some of them made perfect sense. He is “obsessed,†for example, with Henry Davis Sleeper’s Gloucester house, Beauport. By all means go see it yourself if you haven’t yet.

A collection of amber glass in the Central Hall at Beauport. Photos courtesy of Historic New England.

The Golden Step Dining Room at Beauport.

Beauport’s Green Dining Room.

This fabric from Gorrivan’s new Highland Court collection is apparently based on a wall covering at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum.

Fabric photos courtesy of Duralee.

Other influences cited were old encaustic tiles and other historic floor patterns:


And men’s suiting:

Perhaps my favorite quote of the day: “Nature is never wrong.†He was talking about drawing color and texture combinations from the world at large, and it made me think of a recent post on this blog by designer Sally Wilson, who suggested deriving room colors from bird plumage.

–Kyle Hoepner

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