Susanna Salk



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Monday, February 11th, 2008

So often we buy something for our home, take it out of the bag when we get there, then immediately put it in the designated spot we’ve already chosen in our minds. And there it stays until it breaks, fades beyond appreciation, or is usurped by more a youthful version of itself.

And as satisfying as finding just the right something for somewhere can be, (whether it’s a chic black toothbrush that makes you feel like a model at 7am or a white vase that makes your flowers feel like they’re in a photo shoot), I encourage us all to push the boundaries on our everyday objects and open up the possibilities to all they can be.

I remember when I was helping manage a designer’s showhouse in the Hamptons. Overseeing 25 designers while they installed their individual visions into a 29 million dollar spec house that was still being constructed the day of the gala opening, (as I welcomed Al Roker from the Today Show, the first thing he noticed as the cameras rolled live was that there still weren’t any doorknobs on the front door), was slightly less hectic and stressful than if I had been asked to plan the Olsen twins’ double wedding.

The incredible upside however was all that I learned from what the amazing designers had created behind those doors: there wasn’t an inch of 40,000 square feet where I did not take inspiration. Case in point: the entry hall, where Barclay Butera made an exquisite declaration of elegant independence.

Each designer had been asked to weave in a sponsor’s item into their spaces somehow and in Barclay’s case, it was a perfectly lovely iron chandelier which he could have easily just hung from the ceiling and called it day.

Instead, he spent three days covering its curves with thousands of tiny shells and corals. The coup de grace: large pieces of coral placed in the center along with a large polished nautilus suspended from the bottom, like an exclamation point.

There was drama, there was symmetry and suddenly there was so much more than a lighting fixture. “My goal in design is to be as original as possible. Attention to detail always makes the difference. And I love the element of surprise,” Barclay told me when I asked him why.

His enthusiasm and creativity were contagious. Instead of going home exhausted each-night, the image of the enchanted chandelier buoyed me like warm, turquoise waves. Who cared there were still mountains of sawdust outside the house when that chandelier greeted all those who walked inside?….

Oddly enough, the sponsor didn’t know what to think of Barclay’s suspended imagination. Because of it, their once ordinary chandelier was now being photographed as often as a super model and all they seemed to care about was that it no longer looked like the picture in their catalogue.

I hope we all can remember to take our noses out of the magazine/the instruction booklet/the catalouge after we open that box and get ready to welcome our new items home. Maybe its buying four of that white vase you love and then displaying all of them: without the flowers. Because sometimes our imagination- and a little glue gunning- is the fastest path towards ultimate gratification.