This winter, at the 2013 Nashville Antiques and Garden Show, we had the pleasure of chatting with world-renowned designer Brian J. McCarthy. An alum of the legendary Parish-Hadley Associates, Brian is known not only for his beautifully curated spaces but for his charm and approachability. His overwhelming brilliance in the field is cushioned by his sense of humor and easy-going personality–a perfect combination in our minds! We thoroughly enjoyed our conversation with Brian and are pleased to share it with you today.
Welcome to Nashville! In your mind, what defines the South?
Gentility. I grew up in Maryland, but I spent a lot of time in Virginia and North Carolina. My roots were Southern even though my family is Northern. But there’s a huge difference in the South in the calmness, quietness and politeness within. You just don’t get that in New York! In New York City, especially with technology, everything is moving at warp speed.
You have a full-time associate based in Paris for your clients’ art and furniture needs. Do you have a favorite artist you like to work with for your clients or personally for yourself?
For commissioned pieces for projects in that capacity, it’s:
-Hubert le Gall
…a number of what I consider to be the Jean-Michel Frank of tomorrow.
So when I introduce them to clients today, I tell them this is really for their future as they’re commissioning these artists to do these pieces. These are unique, one of a kind pieces (or at least in a small number of limited editions). I love the interaction with the artists and I love making the introduction with my clients.
How do you get to know new clients better before starting a project?
Since I have a lot of clients in Europe and do a lot of shopping in Europe, I always encourage them to do shopping trips with me and its wonderful. It’s a great way to get to know them better and a way to read what’s going on in their heads. And it’s reference.
With the power of technology today and the role it plays in much of what we do, how has your business been affected by it?
It’s a double edge sword. It’s like email: to me with email, people are losing the ability to communicate through their voice. This media has made people lazy in getting out to actually see things in person. The only way you learn about furniture is by seeing it. A photograph doesn’t really give you a good sense of the piece. You don’t get the scale, nuance, grain of the wood, etc. Technology is good in that you can do research and do your homework about things, so that is good…but on the other hand it can hinder you from really knowing what you need to know before purchasing a piece.
Do you have a favorite paint color?
Farrow and Ball Pointing White. A yummy, delicious ivory. It opens up after it’s painted and oxidizes just a little bit to give a full ivory color. The surface of the paint is just beautiful.
With all of the places you have traveled in the world, is there still a city you haven’t been to that you would like to see?
I am dying to go to Berlin! I am in Switzerland almost twice a month, so you would think I could easily scoot over there! But when I am not working, all I really want to do is go back to my own home (in New York).
Brian’s first book, Luminous Interiors (published by Stewart Tabori & Chang), will be coming out November 5, 2013. We cannot wait to read more about his amazing projects and see more of his incredible work!
Thank you Brian for coming to Nashville and visiting with us! Come back again soon!
Brian J. McCarthy
(Images: 1-2: Brian J. McCarthy Inc. /Photographed by Fritz Von Der Schulenburg; 3-artadvisory.com; 4-artnet.com; 5-hubertlegall.fr; 6-Brian J. McCarthy, Inc. / Photographed by Max Kim Bee; 7-8: Brian J. McCarthy, Inc. / Fritz Von Der Schulenburg)
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