New book looks at designers' homes and offices


September 04, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

If you're more than casually interested in interior design, you've probably wondered what the homes and workplaces of well-known designers look like. Such curiosity is only natural, even when it involves something other than a quest for purely technical information.

In general, I find, designers do indeed style their private spaces in accordance with their public philosophies. But the look of these homes and studios is often more than a mere expression of a certain school of design. The added element is the personal touch, or those sets of gestures that make an interior unique.

Many designers are wary about showing off their homes. Some get so swept up in working with clients that they have little time to devote to their own living environments. Others don't want their private spaces to be subjected to public scrutiny.

Happily, however, Carol Soucek King gives us all access, through hundreds of full-color photographs, to 60 such spaces in her new book, "At Home and at Work: Architects' and Designers' Empowered Spaces" (published by PBC International of Glen Cove, N.Y.).

The home of James Northcutt, designer of some of America's most luxurious hotels, offers a particularly instructive example. Like many of his California colleagues, Mr. Northcutt lives and works in architecturally clean and sun-filled settings, furnished with both distinguished antiques and beautiful contemporary pieces. In Ms. King's book, Mr. Northcutt expresses a preference for white backgrounds and a tendency toward "overscaling objects to get the maximum impact."

The photograph shows how his philosophy has been put into practice. The strong backgrounds in this two-story space -- the wood parquet and marble floor, the large shuttered and glassed openings, the simple detailing of the contemporary fireplace -- serve to support a number of over-scaled items, including the traditionally styled seating pieces.

As you look through Ms. King's excellent book, keep in mind that few designers fully attain their lofty goals. Most of us forever feel that the perfect color, fabric or accessory is still waiting to be discovered. The search is never-ending for that missing -- and mythical -- piece that will provide perfection.

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