26 October 2009

When Franki met Thomas O'Brien

Franki Durbin, from Life in a Venti Cup, wrote yesterday of a dinner she shared with a couple of top-notch designers while she was in High Point last week. One of those top-notch was Thomas O'Brien. Well, Franki envied my spot at Fashion Week back in December, but yesterday was my day to envy Franki.

A Barbara Barry mash up

The first designer on the contemporary scene whose aesthetic I really fell for was Barbara Barry. She brought about a simple glamor and I'm convinced her furniture designs played a huge role in a renewed appreciation of mid-century modernism. There's a furniture store in my part of the world with a Barbara Barry showroom in it. When I walk into that showroom, it's as if I've walked into Lisa Douglas' Park Avenue apartment. It's at the same moment that I start thinking about Lisa Douglas that I start to realize that maybe Barbara Barry's not for me, lovely though it is. I'd never turn down a Barbara Barry chair, mind you but when it comes to furnishing my own living room, Lisa Douglas is not the image I'd like to project.

Well that's where Thomas O'Brien comes in. O'Brien refers to his aesthetic as Warm Modern and I can't disagree. He invokes a lot of the icons of modernism in his furniture and furnishings, and he does in a studied and orderly way. I think it's his studied orderliness that appeals to me. It's almost as if he took a thread also followed by Ms. Barry and butched it up a little and came up with something that's wonderfully, uniquely his. Franki titled her blog post about her meeting with him Thomas O'Brien: The Thinking Man's Designer and it's the perfect descriptor. Under all of that seemingly effortless design flows a sea of planning and thought.

It's beautiful, all of it. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I would put in other peoples' homes. In order to do that, a lot of times I ask myself "If this were my home, what would I do here?" But I never stand in my own living room and ask myself that same question. When I get around to it for real, part of that answer is scattered around this post. Without all of the clutter of course.

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