What Makes a Classic?

I was watching one of my favorite weekend TV programs: Book TV. They were airing a recent lecture at the Newark Museum on the new biography of Phillip Roth. What makes him a brilliant iconic American author is that he cuts to the meat at every possible angle ….360 degrees worth. His material is endlessly rich and human. Having read every one of his books, I am so sad that he has given up the pen, at age 80!

Speaking of classics, I am seeing the complete Wagner Ring Cycle at the Met Opera his month, and feeling so fortunate to FINALLY immerse myself in this masterwork of psychological family drama. You may laugh, but there is no better night time soap than witnessing Woton, Fricka and Brunnhilde work out their epic struggle to simply love each other. (The above image is outside the Metropolitan Opera, getting ready to hear the 6 hour performance of Die Walkure.)

Who are our design classics? What they say is still relevant and timeless. Human need must always be front and center when considering the home. Here are just a few of the masters, and I encourage you to Google them and see their work.

Albert Hadley:
The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.

John Saladino:
We need space that liberates us from terra firma, allowing our spirits to soar and our imaginations to take flight.

Louis Sullivan:
Form follows function.

Charles Eames:
Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.

Dorothy Draper:
Birds are so much wiser than we! A robin builds a nest for robins. A seagull builds a nest for seagulls. They don’t copy each other – or build themselves nests as described in The Bird Decorating Magazine.

Van Day Truex:
Interiors speak! Rooms emphasize whether one exists or lives, and there is a great difference between the two!

Billy Baldwin:
Decorators should never insist on throwing out everything the client has. Even when they are far from perfect, loved possessions add personality.

Edith Wharton:
The desire for symmetry, for balance, for rhythm is one of the most inveterate of human instincts.

Elsie de Wolfe:
Simplicity, suitability and proportion.

Mark Hampton:
Decor must have sentimental value. A house must tell a story.

Zahid Sardar:
Good design has to tell a story. It has to stop people, and it has to make them wonder. Good design is a conversation.

Marcia Butler:
I most humbly say: I use my client’s dreams for their home as a source for inspiration, even if I cannot immediately relate to it. The outcome will be an opportunity for growth and an experience that is new.

4 thoughts on “What Makes a Classic?

  1. Richard Kaplan

    Dear Marcia: I always look forward to your blogs and this one is rife with great quotes and insights. However, I must warn you to stay away from decorating Wotan’s, Fricka’ and Brunnhlde’s castle. Even if they have all the gold in the Rhine, the family is toxic.

  2. MarciaB1 Post author

    Dear Richard, Thanks for the advice. I would have to get disclaimers before I went into contract with Woton. But I really think that I could work well with Brunnhilde on her own. Maybe she has a pied in the city….


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