Q&A: Interior Designer Elizabeth Bolognino

(The designer (above) and a vignette from a private Manhattan residence on East 77th. Photos courtesy of the designer.)

Name: Elizabeth Bolognino
Occupation: Interior designer
Resides in: New York, New York
Best known for: A warm yet refined sensibility honed at hospitality firm Yabu Pushelberg and Ralph Lauren, and an eclectic client list that swings from musicians to artists to execs.

1. Antique or modern?
A well-balanced interior has antique and modern pieces, but it shouldn’t be so prevalent to the naked eye. I like to call it "timely timelessness;" this way a space will never become staid or nuanced. 

2. City or country?
Born a Georgia girl, I chased love to NYC. I can't lie, you’ll find me most happy rocking on a front porch somewhere! However, I crave the balance of that world with simple, contemporary city life. We’ve been here for 11 years, but I doubt I’ll ever be a “New Yorker”… just a southern girl with a few scarves on.

3. Which colors do you use most?
I always begin my interiors with black or white. The color comes later (however, I’m not a fan of purple).  

4. Favorite materials or textures?
I love Venetian plasters, silks, and finishes that require an attention to detail. Dean Barger recently lacquered a ceiling that looks like glass which I’m absolutely obsessed with. Materials should be smart, not showy.  

5. What is your favorite interior design-related word?
Vignette! I tell my clients to look at their homes through a makeshift viewfinder; little moments make an interior feel complete.

(A loft residence in Chelsea designed by Bolognino. Photos courtesy of the designer)
6. Does your current home look like the one you grew up in?
Our apartment here in Williamsburg looks absolutely nothing like my childhood home. It’s an extension of my city-side: overscaled art, clean lines. Our home is a reflection of how I approach design; there's a sense of “layered minimalism.” We choose simple, key elements that become a design statement. A home should feel comfortable, but composed and not cluttered.

7. Does a room need a view?
A room without a view is more of a challenge, and at times more rewarding. Creativity is born out of a white box, not a view. This is why children love nooks and niches.  

8. Favorite designer or architect?
I love Thomas O'Brien’s warm traditional aesthetic paired with Yabu Pushelberg’s contemporary but uber-chic sensibility. Attention to detail is the most important element in interior design, and O’Brien and Pushelberg are masters of the art.

9. Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
I’d be lost without this amazing blog called Japanese Trash. It’s design from a Texan man’s point of view—and let me tell you—he has a great eye. I also can’t live without World of Interiors, New York Magazine, and The Talkhouse. 

10. What qualities do you most admire in a room and why?
I am most impressed by the devil in the details. A room must feel composed, tailored, and thought through. I love designing my own furniture, base moldings, architectural details, and art. 

(The dining room in a private residence in Bridgehampton. Photo courtesy of the designer)

11. What is a forbidden word in your house?

Gorge, amaze, and chintz.

12. Design rule you love to break? 
Proper space planning and scale are truly the only “design rules” that need to be upheld. And I always mix metals.  

13. What is your favorite room in the house?
The family room. It's a complete extension of collective personality. You can walk into a family room and learn key things about its inhabitants.

14. What is your most treasured possession?
My grandmother and great grandmother's recipes, all handwritten, with the earliest dating back to the 1910s. They lived on the bayou, so it's really interesting to read and learn about their lives. 

15. What do you wish you could do without?
My iPhone. I love and hate it equally. Thank God for the cheaper version because I can’t seem to keep them in one piece. 

(A sitting area (above) in a Manhattan bachelor pad and the leather-upholstered master bed. Photos courtesy of the designer)
16. How does West Coast design differ from East Coast design? 
East Coast design is more informed by its European predecessors. West Coast design is a little looser, and the scale is larger. There is more room to breathe out there so furniture tends to be bigger.

17. What is your favorite thing about the East Coast?
The diversity of the East Coast is unparalleled. I can't live without Maine, Vermont, the South, the Hudson Valley, the Virgin Islands … need I go on?

18. If you could live in one historical figure’s house, whose would it be?
Frank Lloyd Wright. He was the first to define American architecture and I love how informed he was about his surroundings. This is so important in design.

19. On what movie set would you like to live?  
Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. He masterfully weaves different design periods of the Belle Époque (1870’s to World War I) with iconic characters that changed our cultural worldview.  

20. To which country would you move for the design?
Brazil. Iconic furniture designers and architects such as Arthur Casas, Martin Eisler, and Carlos Motta are huge inspirations to me. And the climate in Brazil lends itself to indoor-outdoor environments; it's right in my wheelhouse.

21. If you were reborn as a piece of furniture or an object, what would it be?
I think I’d be a coffee mug. People look forward to holding them, cradling them. Coffee mugs also set the tone for one’s day; I can’t live without my Pantone mugs and handpick the color depending on my mood.  Today it’s Pantone 630.
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