‘What’s old can be new again,’ explains Eddie Ross, the designer, contributing editor to House Beautiful and co-founder and chief content creator of Maximalist Studios. ‘The goal is to perpetuate the lifecycle of design, finding timeless pieces and adding bright colours and happy fabrics alongside beautiful antiques.’
The designer's new focus — a 10,000-square-foot building that was originally home to an American flag manufacturing company, and which has since been converted into a photo studio and event space that can host up to 250 people — speaks to that mission. In a venue dictated by imagination, Ross relies on his inventive and unique approach to decorating and entertaining.
Ahead of the Interiors auction at Christie’s in New York on 11 December, Eddie Ross created a series of vignettes styled with his favourite lots from the sale, and took time to discuss with us his design philosophy and techniques.
How would you describe your design style and philosophy?
Eddie Ross: ‘I like to blend the old with the new; a mix of rustic with refined to create a warm, eclectic living space that looks like it has been decorated over time. Comfortable seating that accompanies beautiful antique pieces not only add visual interest and character to a space, but also introduce a dialogue where chic sophistication has been reimagined.’
Where do you find your inspiration?
ER: ‘Everywhere from travelling to magazines to scrolling through Instagram and researching Christie’s catalogues. I definitely look to the past and often find that the best things already exist in my house — they simply need a new item to enter into a dialogue. High-value meets low in this melting pot of furniture and, when it comes to inspiration, it doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful.’
We could really see your passion as we watched you run around the warehouse selecting objects for the styled rooms. What was your vision for them?
ER: ‘For all of the sets I was looking at what was in the sale, taking that merchandise and putting it into something that had my flavour stamp. For the dining room, for example, I was inspired by blending pops of colour from the 12 Mintons turquoise ground plates (above) with dark pieces — the Swiss “Black Forest” stained hardwood side cabinet (below), for instance, with all of its well-crafted details of hunting hounds, scrolling leaves and acorns — to make a space that could easily be a New York City apartment or a chic house in Aspen.
‘Colour was paramount to creating the proper mood. For example, we painted the dining room (below) a dark colour because we weren’t working with a lot of colour in the sale. While the plates, the napkins, the flowers add to the room’s energy, the dark colour created that moody, warm and cosy environment without it feeling cold. Colour can change the feeling behind a room like that in an instant — go from whimsical to contemplative. It’s all in the details.’
It seemed as though the final living room set had a less structured feel. What were you aiming for?
ER: ‘The upcoming Interiors sale is eclectic and I wanted to embrace that variety and really take an inventive, unpredictable approach by mixing time periods, patterns and colour. Inspiration comes from embracing the unexpected. With the dark backdrop, I wanted to make the scene feel younger and fresher by encouraging conversation between the button-tufted white satin slipper chair and the tiger-printed plush button-tufted upholstered ottoman (below). My journey led me to create an evening scene — the part of the night when we sit in front of the fire after dinner.’
Which pieces were you especially drawn to?
ER: ‘The classic, Old World George III silver table bell (below), the American silver and silver-gilt flatware, the Baccarat cut-glass stemware and the set of 12 Steuben wine goblets came together effortlessly in the dining-room scene.
‘The Aspen interior [top left of this story] successfully brought together antler trophies mounted on Swiss “Black Forest” plaques on the same wall as a pencil portrait, while a pair of antler chairs (below) engaged with a leather-bound steel, brass and glass Jacques Adnet occasional table that supported a Christian Dior porcelain set in the “Gaudron Malachite” pattern. I love bringing in pieces that don’t feel like they should belong together and making the space work.
‘In the living room, it was the tiger ottoman and the French brass and laminate étagère bookcase; the Joan Miró artwork and the knotty Victorian table. The room felt masculine and feminine, and warm — the embodiment of the rustic and refined mix I strive to create. I wanted to pull from every category within the sale and not shy away from any object simply because it was unfamiliar.’
How important is decoration to successful hosting and entertaining?
ER: ‘When you’re entertaining, you’re bringing your friends and family and clients into your space. The way that you entertain is the way that you live. Although sometimes the way that I decorate is a little more formal, when I entertain, I set this Titanic-type place-setting where you work your way from the outside in. But it’s the casual vibe of the way that we host the party and what we serve and how we dress that matters most.
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‘As a trained chef, and knowing that food can so often be the focus for entertaining, I appreciate how the table sets the tone of the party. But it’s the most stressful part of the room — there are so many moving elements! The trick becomes to know what pieces will help to curate the scene.’