Ghislaine Vinas, who recently won Benjamin Moore's 2010 Hue Award, is based in New York and whose interiors represent a warm take on modernism that utilize a strong and saturated color palette. The Herman Miller Lifework blog chat with the designer about her work space at the country home she bought 6 years ago.
How long have you worked from home? This is my desk at our country home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. We bought the house in 2004, spent a year renovating it and have been working on the interiors ever since. Being an interior designer, designing my own house is torturous and I don't think I will ever be finished! If I need to get work done during the weekend and I'm not out on the deck with my laptop, you can find me here. I mostly use the time away from my New York City office to look for inspiration and to come up with new ideas.
And where is home? Home from Monday – Friday afternoon is downtown New York City. I've lived in the same loft for over 20 years right on the Hudson River. We work from the loft too. But life is crazy in the city and after my husband and I had our two little girls we decided to get a country house near my sister in Pennsylvania. So Friday evening to Sunday evening our home is in the country. It's a little old farmhouse that my husband and I lovingly renovated with the help of my sister's husband, Glenn who is a contractor.
Describe your style? How would you define your aesthetic? I would say that my style is modern, fresh, clean happy and a wee bit quirky. I like things that can be cleaned off easily, I dont like too much clutter but I like that my home reflects who I am. I get enjoyment out of being surrounded by things I have found around the world or even in my back yard from local garage sales or flea markets.
As an interior designer with multiple clients how do you keep your office organized? The New York apartment pictured above seems typical of your work – strong bursts of color against a fairly minimal backdrop of white? We specialize in one style – we are not an office that does traditional through to contemporary – we stick to simple happy modern – this helps keep our samples to a minimum and has helped clean up things a lot in the NYC office. Over the years I have honed my style so I dont want fabrics or other samples lying around that I dont intend to use. Two years ago we got rid of all our brochures and binders and it was such a relief to "clean house" Everything is online anyway so we are good at bookmarking our favorite sites and pieces.
We keep all our fabric samples in drawers – there are 16 big drawers all color coded. Our tiles and other materials we keep in drawers too for easy access. We have big boxes that we keep sample in on projects we are currently working on and its always great to see how all the materials start coming together. All other material is kept in giant client binders – these binders contain everything from plans and elevations to color inspiration and specific furniture pieces. The binders are evolving constantly as we work on the projects.
Are there any particular computer programs you find really useful? I used to have interns do weekly color copies of magazine inspirations and I kept them in a giant lateral file but now we use Evernote to organize all my inspirational images as well as furniture pieces that I really dont want to forget. So now when I am looking for something its such a breeze to find.
When you are designing a home office what do you keep in mind? I keep in mind that peoples lives are busy and we dont always have time to put things away – this means that a stack of bills on the desk top may be reality. So a nice paper tray could be a smart investment. I try and reduce clutter by having upper cabinets that are easy to reach from a seated position that can store unattractive real life things you need at your desk. Also essential is a good "box box file" drawer right next to the desk. Top drawer for essentials including check books, good hand cream and lip balm , second drawer for stationary and stamps and the bottom drawer for filing monthly bills. You also need good lateral files for all the other things that need filing like taxes and investment, school and other info.
An attractive trash can under the desk never hurts . Its always nice to have a beautiful cup holder for pens and stationary and a beautiful stapler, tape holder and paper clip holder. Recently I have started working with personal organizers so that my clients can have perfect tabs on all their files holders and just the right drawer dividers.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet? I love the Airia desk (and seriously not because its for Herman Miller) and I adore the big e15 table especially in yellow (above). I dream of having a giant desk like it. I love my vintage saarinen chair that I have in my PA house. I had it reupholstered in a brilliant magenta – it makes the perfect desk chair.
What is a desk accessory you can't do without? A cup of coffee in my right hand. I would really love to get a set of "Anything" desk accessories (above).
What would you change about your own workspace? Well, my little spot in PA is kinda perfect for me but my office in New York needs help. In New York we sit at long white counters and although I can look out the window at the river from where I sit, I would love to have a freestanding table to work from. I would love to get a giant table maybe vintage or Baroque looking and have it shop finished in a crazy color – like fluorescent red. Then everything around it would be white. A giant inspiration board is the second thing on my wish list. My little space in PA feels personal and has an aesthetic, my New York space is about function and lacks personal style.
What do you most love about your space? Well, my space in my PA house is very special to me – it's full of fun little memories because all the pictures on the wall were given to me either by the artist themself or by friends. I love looking out the window and daydreaming. There are always bunnies out there in the spring and summer and it's so ridiculously idyllic that it makes me smile. I love my comfy magenta chair and the pop of color the rolling file add. I love that I can go out and pick some flowers from the garden and put them on the desk. In the pictures are peonies from my front yard.
What inspires you? Anything bright and happy. I love seeing unexpected color combinations. I love seeing things that are out of scale – an image of something small that has been enlarged or visa versa. I love animal objects. The beach is my favorite place in the world and inspires me. I love my girl's (Mia Soleil and Saskia Luna) art work. I love designing with my husband Jaime. I am inspired by very smart people who are also creative and who don't take themselves too seriously. Collaborations with clients get my heart racing. Graffitti and urban wall art is beautiful and surprising.
[Images: The PA office: Jaime Vinas, the New York apartment: Eric Laignel]