Living In Style Without Losing Your Mind

Overview

Flip through the pages of any design publication and you can't help but wonder: So beautiful, so spacious, so perfect...but is anyone actually living there?

We may want our houses to look like magazine spreads, but to do that can require a mountain of money and a staff of hundreds, the dexterity of Michelangelo, and a backhoe. Most of the time, great design has to be accessible to the rest of us. By de?nition it has to be easy and affordable, smart and stylish. But as the ...

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Hardcover New Flip through the pages of any design publication and you can't help but wonder: So beautiful, so spacious, so perfect...but is anyone actually living there? We ... may want our houses to look like magazine spreads, but to do that can require a mountain of money and a staff of hundreds, the dexterity of Michelangelo, and a backhoe. Most of the time, great design has to be accessible to the rest of us. By de? nition it has to be easy and affordable, smart and stylish. But as the brilliant designer and writer Marco Pasanella shows us, you don't have to have a look; rather, great design can be found in many styles and in any house. For your place to look great, he says, you don't need a platinum card or a flair for fabrics. You don't need a degree and you don't need to know how to draw. You only need to know how to see, and that's where this fresh and exciting book comes in. Pasanella has the insight of a practicing designer and teacher, which he combines with an iconoclastic and firmly practical Read more Show Less

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Overview

Flip through the pages of any design publication and you can't help but wonder: So beautiful, so spacious, so perfect...but is anyone actually living there?

We may want our houses to look like magazine spreads, but to do that can require a mountain of money and a staff of hundreds, the dexterity of Michelangelo, and a backhoe. Most of the time, great design has to be accessible to the rest of us. By de?nition it has to be easy and affordable, smart and stylish. But as the brilliant designer and writer Marco Pasanella shows us, you don't have to have a "look"; rather, great design can be found in many styles and in any house. For your place to look great, he says, you don't need a platinum card or a flair for fabrics. You don't need a degree and you don't need to know how to draw. You only need to know how to see, and that's where this fresh and exciting book comes in.

Pasanella has the insight of a practicing designer and teacher, which he combines with an iconoclastic and firmly practical attitude; the result is a book that will speak to a generation impatient with frivolous, unimaginative, and pompous design solutions. If you don't have a separate wing for each family member, how can you create private spaces that provide retreat even as they allow for communal use? How do you know what to toss, what to keep, what to get? How do you turn a house into a home? These questions have answers that can make our lives easier and a lot better looking.

Living in Style Without Losing Your Mind doesn't tell us what to do; it helps us understand what we're doing and encourages us to trust our own ideas about great style. Pasanella gives us the confidence to trust our own passions and our own taste. But this isn't just a manual of practical advice. Our author is a wonderful designer himself, with a marvelous eye, and the book is filled with quirky, inspiring, and just plain beautiful photos showing what our rooms can look like with only a little thought, a little effort, and a great teacher.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684850474
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 5/4/2000
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Marco Pasanella is a designer, writer, teacher, and photographer. His design work ranges from a rocking chair in the White House, housewares in the Smithsonian, and exclusive hotels and swanky interiors across the country. These and other projects have been documented widely in the national media as well as many European publications. In 1990 he founded the Pasanella Company, now the Polenta Group, a multidisciplinary design firrm. Educated at Yale University, he teaches at Parsons School of Design. He lives in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: A Rod Not a Fish

You may want your home to look like a magazine, but to do so may require a mountain of money and a staff of hundreds, the dexterity of Michelangelo, and a backhoe. But for that kind of cash, labor, and expertise, it better be pretty damn great (see the Piazza San Marco).

Most of the time (almost all the time, in fact) great design has to be accessible to the rest of us. By definition, it has to be easy and affordable, smart and stylish. But you don't need a "look." Rather, based on a point of view, great design can be found in many styles.

All design is composed, to varying degrees, of the following elements: space, form, light, color, material, scale, and symbols (or associations). Good design gets the mix right; but great design includes one more: passion. You don't appreciate great design; you love it. Great design describes inanimate things (objects, spaces) that inspire human attachment. It's personal. It resonates. It enthralls. Truly great design is what you would carry out of your house if it were burning down.

In a world where everything is starting to look like everything else (think Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma) great design is a little off. It includes the unpolished, the unique, perhaps even the slightly nutty. To have great design, you've got to have a little something, with a little something extra.

Design can be scary. It seems to involve spending a lot of money, taking a lot of time, and making a lot of seemingly arbitrary decisions. It doesn't have to. All you need to do is understand how to recognize it for yourself. To have a great home, the point is, you don't need a platinum card for a flair for fabrics. You don't need a degree. You don't even need to know how to draw. You need to know how to see. And this book will show you how.

Sometimes that means looking not in a Sotheby's catalog but in places closer to home. Great design, one should keep in mind, is often so well designed as not to seem designed at all.

Often it just means remembering.

Everything you need to know about design you learned in freshman English, at least if you read William Strunk and E. B. White's Elements of Style as you were supposed to. On close examination, this guide to good writing gives some brilliant advice about good design. "Work from a suitable design," Strunk and White advise. Do the same at home. Decide what's important and go about it in a methodical way. "This does not mean," they sensibly point out, "that you must sit with a blueprint always in front of you, merely that you had best anticipate what you are getting into."

Keep it simple, the authors continue: "A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reasons that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subject only in outline, but that every word tell."

"Approach style warily," they wisely caution. Turn "resolutely away from all devices that are popularly believed to indicate style -- all mannerisms, tricks, adornments." Remember that style is what is "distinguished and distinguishing," not a "garnish for the meat of prose, a sauce by which a dull dish can be made palatable." Once again, the same is true for interior design. Style is important. A style is not.

Heed Elements of Style and you'll realize that the ability to make a home look great is neither a mystical talent nor a God-given blessing bestowed upon a lucky few. Interior design has principles, and the most fundamental of these are gathering and retreat.

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Table of Contents

THE BIG PICTURE

A Rod Not a Fish
Gathering and Retreat

THINK FIRST:
CONCEPTS TO KEEP IN MIND

Individuality
Style
Simplicity
Flexibility
Other Senses
Constraints
Mistakes

START HERE:
HOW TO MAKE A HOUSE A HOME

Asking Questions
Eliminating Clutter
Arranging Furniture
Using Light and Color
Thinking Small

Appendix A: A Really Great Sofa
Appendix B: Making a Home Office
Resources: For Inspiration as Well as Stuff
Index
Photography and Illustration Credits
Acknowledgments

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