Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pretty Only Gets You So Far

At the book launch. Ignore my crazy eye. Let's call it my attempt at living out the book's message. Photo credit: Yulia Mikhalchuk.
 Last week, my sister invited me to join her (and our friend, Alissa) at a launch party for Deborah Needleman's new book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home. For those of you interested in design, you know that Deborah was the Founding Editor of the widely-hailed, yet-to-be-rivaled Domino Magazine, and is now Editor-in-Chief of The Wall Street Journal.
I have to admit that while I adored Domino, I bought her book a bit hesitantly. I am not an interior designer, and the thought of reading a whole book devoted to the subject sounded about as exciting as, well, probably as exciting as reading a technical painting guide sounds to all those non-artists out there. But friends, I read it cover to cover!
Deborah believes that homes should be deeply personal spaces -- that the little thoughtful quirks in our spaces are what breathes life and interest into them. I couldn't agree more. Pretty only gets you so far.
 We've all been in rooms that are so carefully constructed that we are terrified to upset the balance of a throw pillow. These are often spaces that are beautiful in the abstract, but stale and lifeless in reality. They beg for a backpack or a couple of pairs of boots flopped next to the door.
Kids rooms should look like kids live in them. Jenna Lyons sets a gorgeous fireplace off with dramatic paint and lets her son's toys handle the bulk of the design work. There is something sad looking about a perfectly manicured child's room.
This is a concept that extends to all forms of beauty. A model can have the most classically perfect face in the world, but it takes a distinct (often traditionally 'unattractive') feature to distinguish her as a true beauty. These are the faces we linger over and remember.
This J. Crew model wears her wrinkles and the gap between her front teeth like a badge of a well-lived life.
  We admire this or that fashion designer, but we swoon over those seemingly thrown-together outfits that scream effortless style.
The Satorialist snaps pictures of casual pretties on the street.

We know that beauty exists. We want to see that beauty can be human.


  1. I just started reading the book this morning and I am already half way through! Remember that thing I said about not making any changes because I am moving? I am seriously rethinking that...

  2. Also, remind me to never get behind a camera with you again. :)

  3. Well, I have to admit that reading a design book is actually right up my alley, so I think your recommendation makes this one a must read for me.


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