In an effusive foreword to the new Vicente Wolf book Creative Interior Solutions, published by Rizzoli, Marianne Williamson takes readers on an odyssey that began when she was smitten by a bed the author spotted. “And there I saw it,” she wrote. “‘That’s the most beautiful bed I’ve ever seen,’ I said to my friend. It was a tufted sleigh bed with lines that were so stunning I felt I was looking at a piece of art.” Her friend, who was also an interior designer, said, “That’s a Vicente Wolf,” and Williamson knew she had to have the beautiful piece of furniture by the interior designer. “I loved that bed so much that I had a habit of looking at it, stroking the headboard, and saying, ‘Ah, my Vicente Wolf!’”
Vicente Wolf on Creative Interior Solutions
Williamson had just had the exquisite experience of having Oprah Winfrey rave about her book A Return to Love, which enabled her to afford such a luxurious bed. Flash forward a number of years later and Williamson was seated next to Wolf at a book fair, in disbelief that she was actually face-to-face with her bed’s creator. Several years later, she tapped the interior designer to transform her apartment and when she returned from exile while the installation was being put in place, she couldn’t believe her eyes: “The new space was one of beauty and uplift—beyond anything I could have imagined or created myself.” That pretty much says it all for the effect Wolf’s spaces have on his clients!
Margaret Russell, former editor-in-chief extraordinaire, wrote the text that illuminates the stories told through the photographs of each of the spaces. She captures Wolf’s point of view eloquently. In the introduction, he shares, “The past that led to my life as an interior designer started in Havana, where I was born and lived with my family until 1961, when my parents and I left Cuba for America; I was 15 years old.” His design genes came to him honestly, as his parents, who ran a construction-related business, introduced him to building sites and architectural meetings when he was young. As a dyslexic boy, he describes himself as “extremely visual,” and fascinated by the color and composition and light and shadow that surrounded him.
This certainly shows when flipping through the visuals of his interiors in the book. In the chapter “Design Evolutions,” he illustrates how essential design is to those who live in a home—it “is more than a superficial art—it’s a necessity.” Sections of the chapter include “Space to Breathe,” “A Fresh Start,” and “Bright Outlook,” each preview of a client’s home interspersed with “Design Lessons.” The list of these includes, “When you start a project, make a list of the positive and negative aspects of the space—sometimes, just correcting the negatives can produce the most satisfying result.” Another says, “Transform a long hallway into a vista, with a sightline that ends at a striking artwork displayed on the far wall.”
In the chapter “Design Challenges,” Vicente Wolf declares, “Maybe it’s my strong survival instinct, but I love a good challenge.” The spaces bringing this segment to life illustrate the concepts of “The Dreaming Room,” “Friendly Persuasion,” “Sunshine State,” and “From Basic to Bespoke.” In the “Design Integrations” chapter, Wolf speaks to the differences in working with art-collector clients, which he says presents both a delightful opportunity and a challenge, the latter finding the right balance between supporting a collection without creating a distraction. One of our favorite spaces is included in this chapter of the book—a gallery space in which gorgeous black-and-white photography hangs on warm expanses of raw brick walls.
The “Design Reinventions” chapter illustrates his passion for renovations and how fearless he is when he has the opportunity to transform interiors: “Never one to linger on the depressing specifics of a total gut job,” he notes, “I prefer the brilliant promise that a floor plan, a pencil, and a piece of tracing paper can provide, as the possibilities are endless.” Among the “Design Lessons” in this chapter are, “Hanging an overscale chandelier over a round table that floats in a room will give it presence and create a sense of space even without walls”; and “Unify disparate spaces with curtains and shades in the same fabric, and floors and carpets in a similar hue.”
The final chapter in the book is titled “Design Freedom,” which features Wolf’s own apartment. In the intro, he declares, “I don’t believe in the adage, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ Nearly anything found in my Manhattan loft would fit into one of my design jobs and vice versa, though there are certainly more layers of objects in place here.” He says his apartment reflects an instinctual approach to design. “I have no fear of mixing style, color, period, or provenance,” he adds. “There are pieces that are cutting-edge, and others that are vintage or even ancient, but in this industrial-loft environment, they all look like they belong.”
About the fact that his spaces are living, breathing creations, he notes, “Furniture, art, and accessories may come and go, but these are pieces I will always treasure, elements that forge the emotional connection that makes this place my home.” In his “Design Lessons” in this chapter, he advises, “Every few months, take a fresh eye to your interiors: if something has been in the same place for too long—whether it’s a piece of furniture or art—you stop seeing it.” He also points out, “An exotic orchid is like poetry—or music—in a quiet interior, and topiaries can add a sense of architecture to a room; with their deep green color, they act as punctuation marks.”
Buy the Book
You can buy the book by Vicente Wolf book through Rizzoli or Bookshop.org, which supports independent bookstores throughout the U.S. Design Diary was given a review copy of this book but the fact in no way influenced the opinions of the editors.