Designing Outside the Box
I will freely admit to being a bit too obsessed with home-decorating shows.
I've 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.
I 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 Gorder: 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.
I 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?
GG: 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.
LB: 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?
GG: I 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.
GG: 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.
I especially 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!