Lessons on Design from an Expert: Vicente Wolf
Interior Designer Vicente Wolf's new book, Lifting The Curtain On Design, takes us behind the scenes and lets us in on the creative process of a master of his craft. More than simply a lovely coffee table book of beautiful photographs (all shot by Wolf, by the way) it goes deeper, revealing what goes in to creating these wonderful spaces. "It takes you from presenting to the client, shows what the space looked like originally, how it got demolished, how it was built up--plus renderings, fabrics, paint--the whole thing. People just see pretty pictures in magazines, but don't have a clear idea of what it took to get there, and that's what I tried to put across in the book." We talked with Wolf and asked him to take us through several of the rooms, giving us his insights on how to work with space, color, and accessories.
This pale bedroom with a sitting area is painted Patriotic White. "It's a very mercurial color--on a bright summer day, the walls become almost white. As it gets darker, they pick up more and more color. The majority of colors I use are that way."
Wolf brings in elements to break up the perfection, what he calls the "decorative quality" of the space. Things that make it look like something has happened, that it wasn’t all done at the same time. Things that have been gathered over time. "The floor has an insert in the middle with a border of a darker color. The first impression is that it’s all one color, but the more you look at it, the contrast of colors begin to give it a depth. The wood pieces bring warmth and earthiness to a room that’s otherwise very ethereal."
Wolf travels a lot, and likes to include pieces from his journeys. The cube is Chinese, the table on the other side is Burmese. The butterfly paintings are Chinese.
This bedroom is actually part of a large space, so the bed is tufted so that with the linens removed it acts as a seating area for entertaining. "There's a lot of color here--the walls are a yellowish green tone, with teal and lime green. It draws your eye to the window--a great view of a park in New York City. The bed frame delineates the sleeping area within the big room. The mirror reflects the window light, increasing the width of the space visually."
Again, Wolf has added elements from his travels--an African stool, figures from Burma (in the window), a Chinese table. The rest of the room is done in the blue of the pillows, so this is an interesting area chromatically as well.
"Most people think that all I do are white spaces!" In this guest bedroom, one of several, each one with a different emotion, he painted the back wall in a coral color (the rest of the room is white). "The color threw off such a cast, it gave you the perception that the whole room was that color." He paired it with neutrals--a paper sisal rug, the white Panton chair, the linens--materials that brought down the intensity of the back wall--the photographs, the inlaid Indian desk, even the flowers--so it's not all about the background color.
Here we have a women's lounge at the Liberty National Country Club. "I wanted the occupants to have a sense of almost being inside a jewel box. Gold leaf on the backs of the bookcases provide a sheen and give it depth."
He worked with a range of tones--the sofas are a darker version of the wall color. "It has an engulfing quality to it." Wolf added white Chinese porcelain, some Jonathan Adler pottery, and covered all the books in white.
"There's a lot of elegance. You feel that sense of being in a separate world. The majority of people at the country club are men, so I wanted the women to feel as if they were in their own environment. It's feminine, but it's not overly sweet."
Know a decorating enthusiast or someone working on remodeling his or her space? This excellent book would make a really thoughtful gift.