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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book review: 'Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors"

When you're the go-to decorators for Anna Wintour, Jason Wu, and Annie Leibovitz, a certain flash and glam is to be expected. But the work of Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller is anything but glitz and trends. Their new book, Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors, released this week, showcases their decorating flexibility and prowess with projects ranging from Nancy Meyer-perfect country houses to sumptuous city homes.

Carrier and Miller, partners in work as well as life, formed Carrier and Company Interiors in 2005 after working for several storied design firms. Their approach is not the least bit idiosyncratic, as is often the case with other big name designers. It is not their personalities rubber-stamped onto each project. It is their clients' essence that shines through, with a space's history acknowledged and celebrated with an unerring eye.

We realized that if we kept aspects of design in concert - proportion, scale, or formality, for example - we could combine disparate pieces in such a way that each helped the others express themselves and show off their best features.

Our ideal is the perfectly imperfect.

Divided into six sections, the book groups the couple's projects by decorating styles. The six can essentially be boiled down to Traditional, Transitional, and Boho. What ties these styles together is not a signature look like a Kelly Wearstler or a John Saladino. It's that each space is considered and not overly decorated - nothing is superfluous.

With artful placement - prominent siting, unexpected orientation, a frame of negative space, dense arrangements - a designer can create significant moments out of virtually nothing.

[P]aring down truly classic elements to their absolute essence, without ornament, seems to us to lighten the weight of history.

This notion of stripping away excess naturally lends itself well to more modern interiors. With Carrier and Company, there is still a certain traditional approach even in Transitional spaces.

We use [tradition] as the core, then tip away from it into other styles - modern, tailored, timeless, country, and so on - to suit the individual client and the specific context of the residence.

Paring down is also our way of modernizing more traditional interiors. [...] The luxury comes from the choice of materials and the elegant simplicity of the forms. 

For us, this tailored approach honors the beauty of restraint, the pleasure in the perfect fit, and the appreciation of subdued polish.

The designers' strength, though, lies in more traditional spaces. Carrier's start working for neo-Traditionalist Jeffrey Bilhuber and mix master Thomas O'Brien shows. Rooms are not static historical documents, but rather they are conversations of form, function, and need.

We take our cues on what and how we blend history into a project from that project's architecture and location.

For us, [charm] connotes decorating of a certain grace and character. Rooms in this mode do not try to be anything other than what they are.

Tradition for us is something of a loose fantasy, rather than a tight construction of provenance and period.

Contextual appropriateness also figures largely in Carrier and Company's work. High-rise apartments are suitably sophisticated, townhomes have an easy grandeur, and there are no Beetlejuice country houses.

We make our selections based on what is appropriate to a project's architecture and geographic context, and to the client's preferences, identity, and taste.

This approach is complimented by not by a rote set of decorating rules. Although their strong design foundations were formed at FIT, Carrier and Moss believe decorating talent is mostly innate.

Finding just the right couplings, adjacencies, and balance is an organic process - and much of it is unconscious.

We strive to place objects in unexpected, impactful positions.

Somehow, through some form of design intelligence and decorative magic, the components come together to create rooms that feel deeply personal and quire revealing, that have a narrative.

At the end of the day, everything in a room has to co-mingle, to play nicely together - even, occasionally, to flirt.

All photos courtesy The Vendome Press.
My thanks to Meghan Phillips of The Vendome Press for the review copy!


Don Richards said...

I've been trying to purge books, over here. I am simply a hoarder when it comes to them. Amazon, you are my downfall. Carrier's ethos is so in sync with what I think, I'm just going to have to order this. I saw a review on another blog that didn't tempt me, completely. Thanks for that, Raina. Sad trombone.

Raina Cox said...

Don Richards - I am your enabler. :-/

Charlotte Skinner said...

What a wonderfully well-written review. I'm enamored with all of their work. Must have this book!