Earlier this week, I attended a lecture at the Design Center given by renowned architect and interior designer, Campion Platt. The focus of his discussion was “A Bespoke Approach to Design,” in tandem with the introduction of his book “Made To Order.” Prior to this engagement, my knowledge of Campion Platt was limited to his accolades: Architectural Digest’s AD100 list of top architects and designers; interior designer to celebrities (Meg Ryan, Conan O’Brien, Al Pacino – to name a few); principal of an award-winning New York design firm – a leader in boutique hotel design (Mercer Hotel in New York City, Chateau Marmont in Hollywood).
My mindset, that Tuesday morning, was frazzled and frantic. I had been up late the night before working on our taxes (yes, on April 4), and because I procrastinated (as I do every year), I was pushing the envelope and forced myself to stay up until I finished. Working on a few hours of sleep, I had pulled into the Design Center parking lot multi-tasking; on the phone with a partner discussing a commercial project we had just gotten a nod on, the day before; throwing my parking ticket into my portfolio and trying to take note of where I placed it ahead of time (as I’m talking) so that I could find it later on my way out; realizing that I hadn’t even taken a sip of the hot coffee I had poured into my son’s Star Wars Clone Wars thermos (because I couldn’t find a “normal” coffee travel cup and was running late). As I got out of my oversized SUV, I laughed at myself, thinking, “what am I doing?” I’m an overtired suburban mom, with 3 car seats in the back and lacrosse equipment in my trunk – I should hop back into my car, drive home and go to sleep! But I’m glad I didn’t.
Campion Platt began his presentation with an introduction of his highly impressive background informing us that he had grown-up in Cambridge and attended Buckingham, Browne & Nichols (a local private school). Before he went on to discuss his creative process and give a visual interpretation of some of his most notable work (featured in “Made To Order”), he made a comment about signing books during a luncheon after the lecture. He had explained his intentions to create a smaller book (in physical size, not content) – to fit on a nightstand as opposed to a coffee table book – but had been convinced otherwise by his publisher, and then joked that if we (the audience) purchased 3 books, he’d write whatever we wanted in the inscription. I smirked to myself (at the notion of “3”) and settled into my seat, knowing that at that moment everything was right in the universe, and as tired as I was, I was meant to be there.
I hadn’t planned on purchasing a book (as disorganized as I was that morning, I had initially thought if I liked the lecture, I’d go home and buy it on Amazon). But after listening to Campion (whose voice by the way, sounds like Ryan Reynolds’ – or should I say Ryan’s sounds like his, since Campion is his senior), and learning about how creative, talented, business savvy and down-to-earth this designer is, I took his “cue” and bought three.
After a foreword by Jay McInerney (author, “Bright Lights, Big City” and great friend of his), Campion’s first sentence reads, “If you’ve landed on this page, it might be by mistake.” He writes that he “is no different from anyone who picks up a design book: the first thing (sometimes the only thing) I want to do is look at the photographs.” And then he makes the following statement, one which I feel summarizes this designer as a whole. “But if you don’t read the text, you might be misled by what you are seeing.”
What you may already know about this designer is, in one word – luxury. Campion Platt’s design firm is known for its highly customized interiors, which to some designers and homeowners, may seem unattainable and completely out of their realm. However, his approach to the design process, makes you understand his thoughtfulness, his technical ability and the genius behind his creativity – which all begins, in his mind, by finding a compelling theme and telling a story.
Every designer has a different starting point, whether inspiration comes from artwork, an heirloom piece, a color or, for some (who start designing a room from the ground up), beginning with a rug. But the take-away tool, I learned, was that by defining your inspiration with a story (in Campion Platt’s case, the movie “White Mischief” or a tale of a sea-captain, another a country lodge), you can create more original, authentic interiors. And while Campion Platt’s work embodies beautifully bespoke items, his “theme” approach is applicable for anyone, at any budget, whether design professional or homeowner.
What sets this book apart from the other design books on my shelves, are the images of Platt’s renderings of some of the custom, handcrafted pieces (lighting, above, and a convertible bench/ottoman, below) he created made-to-order to fit his clients wants and needs, while fulfilling each project’s story.
This folding cube, called “Inside Out” is from his Campaign Furniture Collection.
Aside from the CAMPION Inc. furniture line, his business extensions include a new eco textile collection with HBF Textiles (2009), custom hand-knotted rugs called the MARINER COLLECTION for Roubini Rugs (2010). He is also working on a number of new fabric, lighting, and furniture collection lines to continue the theme of modern luxury which includes Casella Lighting, Haviland China, in addition to his Jim Thompson METRO CLOTH Collection of textiles.
After Campion Platt signed my books, and a brief conversation about his children (ages 20, 2 and 1, with a new baby on its way), I headed back out into the parking lot with 3 hardcovers in my arms and a huge smile on my face. I was completely inspired! (and am still riding on that high.)
Take Platt’s own advice and don’t judge this designer by his book cover (as beautiful as the living room on the cover is). Buy the book, read the text, and discover, through the journey of each of his featured projects, his process of creating Made-To-Order luxuriously modernist spaces.
If you happen to live near Los Angeles, Vegas, D.C. or New York, then take MY cue, and (in 3 words), SEEK Campion Platt.