Remembering My Mom on Mother's Day
(Repost from Mother's Day 2009)
My mother taught me about unconditional love and peace. Not in so many words, but by her actions. Actions that I could easily take for granted when directed toward me, but which I could see so much more clearly when directed toward others. She also taught me about design, again not in so many words, but by the homes she created and the care that went into making each room something special. And this, I never took for granted.
She loved things that were finely crafted, finds from flea markets in London and Paris, carpets painstakingly woven in Italian nunneries, antiques speaking to the pride that long ago craftsmen took in their day's labor. Her rooms were brilliantly arranged and finished, never pedestrian, and never like anyone else's. And, as expensive as many of the furnishings were, even as rambunctious children growing up on Long Island, my siblings and I were encouraged to live in them to the fullest.
In later years, in her homes in the Florida Keys and the Bay Harbor Islands, she showed me her range, moving from the traditional periods of my childhood homes to contemporary and Asian sensibilities and, finally, bringing it all together in a display of eclecticism that spoke to the entire experience of her life. In these homes, she honored the local culture and the local artist alongside elements that spoke as clearly as a memoir about the journey of her life and the times, places and people that she loved.
She informs everything I do as a designer, most importantly, that rooms are for lives to be lived in, that a wonderful setting is only a foundation to accommodate and celebrate life as it unfolds long after the designer has left. I remember her in her last home In New York City, having just put the finishing touches on the living room and summoning her family into the room. We stood off to the side, remarking on how great the room looked and taking delight in this detail or that. But she took no pleasure in our praise, until we piled into the room and began to live in it.