Designing Outside the Box
I will freely admit to being a bit too obsessed with home-decorating shows.
been watching HGTV, TLC, and similar channels for years, and one of my
favorite designers is Genevieve Gorder. I first watched Genevieve on
TLC's Trading Spaces, and was happy to see her continue on to shows on HGTV. She currently has her own show called Dear Genevieve, where she redesigns spaces for readers who write in with design challenges.
really appreciate Genevieve's organic sense of style, her ability to
think outside of the box when designing, and her love of ethnic
textiles. Her designs keep me inspired with creative ideas to try out in
my own home.
So, you can imagine my delight when I saw Genevieve on the cover of the newest issue of Studios.
Linda Blinn was lucky enough to chat with Genevieve about her studio,
her design process, and her inspirations. Let's take a peek!
Linda Blinn: Describe your studio space and how it evolved. Does your personal style fit into any category?
Genevieve Gorder in her New York City studio. (Photos by JJ Jimenez)
Genevieve's chalkboard wall serves as an inspiration board and a space for brainstorming.
My studio is a very transient space: at times it's used every day,
other times it rests for weeks. It depends on what television shows I'm
shooting, or my design projects, or where I happen to be in the world.
My job is anything but typical, as there is nothing 'nine-to-five' about
my life. My studio design is very simple, like I believe a kitchen
should be. Great tasks, full of color, are taking place in this space so
the surroundings should be frame-like.
have an entire wall covered in Homasote, from head-to-toe, and painted
with 12 coats of black chalkboard paint. This is where I tack up ideas
and capture the moments I don't want to forget. It is basically a
tangible form of my creative thoughts in a 10' x 12' space. A silk kilim
rug that I bought in Istanbul hangs in the corner, and it makes me
happy every time I glance up from my desk. There is a lot of storage and
the pre-war windows are full of light. This is my favorite feature. It
was very important to me that my studio was in an older building in New
York. This means the windows will still open, and most likely it will
have the original wood floors. Architecturally, it will have interesting
lines. I was raised in an old city, in old homes, and this is what
gives me the most comfort.
LB: What would you prioritize when developing a space plan for a studio?
GG: Function, aesthetic, and always use the available vertical space.
LB: You use fabric and textiles as design elements and solutions to architectural challenges. Can you give us some examples?
I do this most often with window treatments. Windows are treasures in
any space, so I like to embellish and create illusions to make them seem
even grander than they are. (Much like eye makeup, it's fun to
decorate but never overdo.) Most often I bring the curtain rod or track
up to the highest point on the wall, or to the ceiling itself-even
when the window frame stops at 7'. Then I embellish the sides with more
volume in fabric than is necessary so that it rests far outside the
frame of the window. The eye is tricked into thinking the room or
window is taller when the fabric extends to the ceiling. When fabric
gathers at the sides, the eye believes the window is wider than it
actually is. It's very simple: Pattern adds depth to a space and
texture does the same. It is all illusion.
We often see innovative furniture pieces serving more than one
function, such as ottomans with a removable top for storage inside. How
do you incorporate these multi-functional pieces in your interiors?
live and design in New York City and this is all we do-multipurpose
everything we own. Negative-space storage is my favorite. By this I
mean the places that we usually forget are there, are the perfect
places to store items: over-the-door libraries, under-the-bed
dressers, built-ins from top-to-toe, trunks, and storage benches.
LB: Tell us why you are so fond of ethnic textiles like ikats and suzanis, and how you use them.
I have a fondness for all folk and indigenous art. There is a
utilitarian quality that speaks closely to the very basics of what
defines design. I love things that are made by hand, things that have a
human imperfection about them. It feels warmer and more soulful, which
is how I like to approach design in general. Ikats and suzanis,
particularly from Uzbekistan, are all-time favorites. Because I am of
Slavic origin myself, these textiles have been around my life and family
since I can remember. Like pre-war architecture, these are the tools
my parents unknowingly gave us as a visual palette as we moved into
adulthood. It was an unbelievably powerful gift. I use them as
upholstery fabric, floor coverings, curtains, and accent pillows. I use
them for everything.
love Genevieve's note about negative-space storage. I'm thinking of
all the odd bits of space in my sewing room that could turn into
creative storage areas!
Check out the latest issue of Studios for more from Genevieve and lots more tips, tricks, and ideas to help make your sewing space the best it can be!