What can people expect to find when they see your collection for Thomasville?
The Darryl Carter for Thomasville Collection is intended to be purposefully diverse, both in furniture design and textile usage. It is my hope that no two people view the collection and come away with the same experience, something I think that happens too often in the current at-large retail experience. The collection was influenced by historically classic forms, with all the pieces carefully selected so they all work intelligently together. These classic forms, while rooted in tradition, are simple in their modernity and designed to outlast trend. Additionally, different textile choices can drastically change each piece, allowing them to fit in the décor of a cottage or a loft...
What was your vision/inspiration for the collection?
Working with my clients, I discovered there are a number of unexplored options for creating beautiful yet comfortable and functional environments that suit their particular lifestyles. The dining room is often the most glaring example of the intended use of a particular room taking precedence over how the room is actually used. Many people reserve the dining room for occasional entertaining or the placement of trophy furnishings that unfortunately inhibit the environment of the room, rather than celebrate it. I suggest using a settee or perhaps chairs in a different finish than the table to help alleviate the sense of the typical dining room as a "board room." The Darryl Carter for Thomasville collection was inspired by examples just like the one above — creating environments that suit individual lifestyles.
Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
I have a great affection for all of pieces in the collection; each took a great deal of care and forethought, and are reflective of my years of experience with clients. All of the pieces can be used in a variety of placements and venues. For instance, if you pair the Hensle Table with two Neo-Charleston sofas, you can create an intimate dining setting. If you add in piles of books, it becomes a comfortable reading alcove. One of my favorite pieces, the Wesex Wing Chair, is a great example of the dexterity, in placement and in design, of the collection. Thoughtfully graceful from all angles in a room, it has a sculptural quality. While more diminutive than most of its traditional counterparts, it sits very comfortably. Due to its scale and pitch, it works beautifully as an alternative head chair at a dining table or a pair at a partner's desk. This is the spirit of all of the pieces in the collection. Each piece is unusually attentive to both small and large space solutions.
What is the biggest mistake people often make when buying furniture? How can they avoid making that mistake?
Impulse purchases. The execution of a home should be thought of as a lasting investment proposition. Purchases should be thoughtful with regard to extended use, growth of the family and lasting design. Trend purchases are often the root of mistakes that are unfortunately not recognized until later. In my opinion, the home should not be an accommodation or competition with one's neighbor. Your home should be indicative and considerate of your individual style, just like personal fashion is.
You talk about how people should be able to "create their own environment" and express themselves in their home. What piece of advice would you give to help them accomplish this?
Your home should reflect your personal style. Just as no two people are alike, no two environments should be alike. Don't be inhibited by the prescribed use of a room — define it so that it works for your specific individual needs. Above all, a room should be reflective of your lifestyle. Think about how you will, in fact, live in a space and develop it accordingly. Consider uses that accommodate your everyday life, which may not necessarily following the conventional use of that room. Don't get too hung up on perfection when decorating — actually live in your home instead of focusing on the way you "should" live there. Once more, I look at the dining room — if you're not someone who routinely entertains large groups of people, don't just maintain its status as a dining room at all times. Line the walls with bookshelves and bring in a collapsible table so the space becomes more usable as a reading room — and convert it back when you need to for special occasions.
Tell us about your book The New Traditional. Who is your client? What does "a new traditionalist" look like?
The intention of the book is to stimulate and nurture confidence in the development of one's home. It's about using a disciplined approach when making decisions, but also providing thoughtful and purposeful options to help readers determine their own design preferences. There are no hard and fast rules that I would presume to prescribe — the point of the book is to find your individual voice. There are suggestions in terms of creating a cohesive sense of space through the use of a procession of color throughout the home. This logic applies whether your color choice is white or persimmon. The intention of The New Traditional is to approach the home with logic. My clients are extraordinarily diverse. My challenge is to understand their personal taste and lifestyle and execute it sensitively with regard to the sense of place — whether a slick loft or an intimate cottage. What they all share is a great affinity for the aesthetic, a respect for the discipline of the process and an at-large confidence in them and their desire to have an individually reflective home.
Trends come and go, but we still like them. How do you view home design trends, and what place should they have in the home?
Trend to me connotes "of the moment" and "group think." So I tend to avoid them in favor of things lasting. The closet yields a perfect analogy. What ends up furthest from your reach: the bold print waiting for a "return" or the simple black dress or the well-tailored blue blazer?
What would you most like people to know about your collection for Thomasville?
There is tremendous thought behind each piece, from the profile of a chair to the fabric offerings (a favorite being a toile on the reverse the subtly insinuates quiet movement rather than jarring attention). It was the goal to create sophisticated, comfortable, attainable and lasting furniture pieces.