MDS INTERVIEWS- Part 1

HOWARD SLATKIN

i’m so excited to bring back “mds interviews,” a series in which interview my favorite designers and tastemakers. i get to ask them what they think is chic, glamorous, stylish, and beautiful!

i’m thrilled to interview howard slatkin. howard is an amazing designer and savvy businessman, known for his 5th avenue style, he has a best-selling book by the same name, 5th avenue style, by vendome press/ order here. if you really want to treat your self, you should get the limited edition of the book/ order here.

howard’s style and elegance is from another time, the details and refinement in his work are extraordinary…no one does it like this anymore, that’s what makes howard and his work so special. he surrounds himself with the best artisans and craftsman, his team creates the most magnificent homes for his very private clientele.

howard also has one of the most popular instagram and pinterest accounts out there. if you’ve been following them lately, you must know he’s moving out of his fabled 5th avenue apartment, on to bigger and better things…i hope there is another book around the corner?!

there is no question that howard’s work and taste is on another level that most of us just dream of, but what i find most enduring about howard is his kindness and his generosity. he is such a gentleman and there is a warmth about him that is very rare today. he’s always willing to give, help, offer advice, and connect others, he is immensely thoughtful.

howard has it all- he has not only 5th avenue style, he’s a gentleman. please enjoy getting to know him, i know i have.

 

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MDS Interviews

Howard Slatkin

 

MDS – How would you define your style?

HS – I think there is a certain level of quality and workmanship in my rooms. my work is so much about the various talented craftsmen who all contribute to make my dreams, and my client’s, a reality.  My style is about the details, I suppose.  I also like to think my work is about creating deeply personal rooms, not ones that reflect the trends in the air at that moment, but rather reflect the client’s interests, tastes and lifestyle.  And comfort, that is always what I am after. Also I think I create  rooms that work for the lives to be lived in them.  I know what a home needs, how to use a home, how to run a home.

New York Home

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MDS- Where did you grow up and how do you think that influences your work?

HS- I have lived in the same village in New Jersey since I was a child.  My mother’s rooms had great comfort and ease, as well as beauty, and that was a great influence on me, that even with beautiful things it is comfort and charm that are most important.  And that is very much the ethos of the houses of friends in our village that I was exposed to when growing up…comfort, charm and a sense of ease.

 

MDS- If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

HS- In the past, I have stopped doing my design work for certain periods but always return, it is simply too much a part of who I am and what I love to do, and I miss it, so I return to it.  I can’t not work with fabrics, talented craftsmen, embroideries, architects, furniture, objects and create beautiful home, and my extraordinary team, it’s in my DNA I suppose.  I also enjoy the problem solving aspects of the whole process, it’s like trying to do the most complex puzzle.  That is the businessman side of me.

But I also like to start various businesses, such as Torie & Howard, purveyors of organic candy, which is run by my business co-partner Torie Burke, which is now in 4,000 doors around the world, or founding Slatkin & Co.  And I am in the middle of writing a murder mystery novel.  When I wrote “Fifth Avenue Style” I found it I enjoyed the process of writing.

 

MDS- Who or what is inspiring you right now?

HS- There is almost a bombardment of inspiration right now, more than I ever remember in my career, thanks to social media and blogs like yours. Pinterest, Instagram and blogs provide so much daily visual inspiration, it is extraordinary. It can be colors in a picture someone has snapped at an obscure museum in Asia, or the detail on a dress at a couture show, or how someone set their table last night in India, it is endless and daily the inspiration that appears right on my phone.  I think it has changed the visual world.

 

MDS- What is the favorite room in your home?

HS- A small sitting room in the country, as that is where I read and relax.  The sofa is deep enough so I can lay comfortably on it, with Winnie right next to me, as well as a pile of books.  And it is filled with things that please me.  It’s a private oasis.

Country Home

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MDS- Is there anything you obsessively collect?

 HS- Really there is nothing I am obsessive about, especially not “things.”   There might be some things I am drawn to, but not as serious collectors are, who want an example of each item in the oeuvre.  The problem is what to do with a new acquisition.  At this stage in my life I have too much “stuff,” so something new just ends up in storage or basements if I acquire anything new.  So now I just about only acquire for clients or to give as gifts.  (But of course when I am at Maastrict next month……)  But I am drawn to blue & white porcelain, as I know you are. It can be Chinese, Delft, modern, it does not matter, I find it so beautiful and so fascinating, and they look beautiful wherever they are placed.

 

MDS- Fill in the blank: “I could never own too many ____________ .”

 HS- Books!  Nothing compares, they are an endless source of pleasure, inspiration, escape, insight and knowledge.

 

MDS- If you could decorate anyone’s house- who’s would it be and why?

HS- My niece Ali, when she is old enough to have her own home (she is fifteen now.)  I would want to make something special for her, and the process of learning her likes (and dislikes) would add depth to our relationship.

 As for a well known person, I have been fortunate to have worked with almost all of those I once dreamed of working with- I have been very lucky, and yes, I know it.

 

MDS- What do you want to be known for?

HS- As a designer, it would be that my rooms were personal and did not have a predicable or expected style, and that my clients were pleased and that the backgrounds I provided for their lives gave pleasure, comfort and solace.

 

MDS- What do you think is chic, stylish and glamorous?

HS- Deeply personal taste, not following trends, not doing what is expected:  following one’s own voice. Rooms that are unlike anyone else’s, those are the ones I find the most stylish and glamorous.  And a continuity of taste over the years, a consistency,not changing with whatever new look is in the air at that moment, that is true style, as it involves knowing oneself.  Equally important is an authenticity, that your rooms reflect how you really live, where you live and that they are truly lived in: that you eat your meals in the dining room (if you have one) and that you actually use your living room to live in.  And lastly that your house is well run, it’s not about having a staff, but that it is clean, that it is loved and cared for and that there are the signs of a well-lived life in your rooms.   When someone really lives in their beautiful rooms, and their daily life is reflected in them- that is true style.

Palm Beach Home

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