My local paper, the Toronto Globe and Mail publishes a “favorite room” picture every Saturday in its Style section and I am usually glad that the room belongs to someone else. So I was interested recently how much more I resonated with two well known women fashion designers, Diane von Furstenberg and Vera Wang in New York Times videos of their working spaces. It’s more interesting for me to see their spaces and watch them operating there compared to a single image with a written comment or two.
Wang contrasts the necessity of her presence in the workroom – not designing in the abstract – and it is lovely to see her tactile connection with her fabrics and the intensity of her focus. Then she switches to her private space – not just uncluttered, but spiritual in its calm. The lack of colour provides this as well as the scarcity of objects – only simple flowers in bloom, a beautiful multi-faceted rose crystal.
Von Furstenberg, in contrast, thrives on enormous variety of things to look at – photos, colour, mementos in abundance – as well as the busy location near the High Line, where nature can come in through the window. The integration of the business spaces, executive, design, marketing, sales, wholesale, retail and the outdoors – all in the old meatpacking neighborhood not far from where I lived in NYC many years ago – all these suggest a balanced and integrated life of a different kind. We don’t all have to do things the same way.
Putting our spaces in the lens of a camera tells something to others – but also to ourselves.