In each generation there are names of people for lack of a better word are called, “Interior Designers”. It is not an apt description. In fact, they are more than that. These talented professionals not only showed us how to dress a room, but create an aspirational lifestyle. I think of Billy Haines, Dorothy Draper and Tony Duquette, who raised the level of taste from the pedestrian to the aristocratic. Alas, few of us can afford to live aristocratically, but we can all afford to dream. Among this pantheon of names is Larry Laslo. You may never be able to afford him, but you can purchase a copy of House Beautiful to see his work, and incorporate his style in your humble abodes.
Robert Allen, will host Larry Laslo of www.larrylaslodesigns.com on "The World According to Larry Laslo", exploring his design process and creative philosophy. This is a rare opportunity to attend a free public lecture at the National Arts Club which is located on the too beautiful Gramercy Park, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY on Thursday, September 28th at 7:00 pm. www.nationalartsclub.org. RSVP by September 24th to 212-475-3424. If Edith Wharton were alive, she would be in attendance. I can only hope you will attend. Please to
There are many reasons I will be there. One, Laslo is a gentleman (there are very few left in New York. At last official count fewer than sixty-four. Gentleman are an endangered species.) I have read about Laslo for years, but have never had the opportunity to meet. And Two, The National Arts Club is one of the most beautiful if not magical places in all of New York. If Gentleman are few and far between, places like the National Arts Club are rarer than lavender herons. (There are none!)
Larry R. Laslo is recognized in the design world as a seasoned style-arbiter, who creates legendary interior landscapes for his international, as well as culturally diverse clients. He has a keen eye for making every space livable with well-placed unconventional objẻts D’ arts.
The road to becoming an Interior Designer is circuitous. Mr. Laslo achieved a kind of fame working with a retailer. Laslo’s vision became the cornerstone in the transformation of the Bergdorf Goodman Department Store. His design aesthetic is part of the Bergdorf Goodman DNA and design philosophy. It is Laslo who gave the store its highly respected look and feel, which is still evident today. His well-choreographed spaces set the tone for a design philosophy that lives on in every decor he designs too.
Magazine editors like to distill ideas into cute little phrases, plays on words, if so; Laslo’s work is often identified as “classic with a twist”. Laslo's work is far from being a cute curt cliche. It would not surprise me to find a miniature of Michelangelo’s “The David” spayed in teal on a mirrored credenza. In some toney foyer. Laslo's restrained, modern decor rejects the popular notion that "contemporary" is synonymous with mid-century modern. His work is tempered by classic English formal functionality, and punctuated with the unexpected.
Laslo’s interiors are often profiled on the editorial pages of Architectural Digest, The New York Times, House & Garden, Vogue, Elle Dẻcor, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, Veranda, W, and Gotham Magazine.
Lasso is a social beast, he is spotted on the charity circuit, indeed, he runs with the polo crowd, and is at home on the Upper East Side, but take heart, he is seen as often on the TV sets in your dens. Please do not tell him that you have decorated your dens with five piece naughtier sets from Jennifer Convertibles. Laslo did five years on QVC. Where he hosted the chatty Larry Laslo Home Show. To this day, he is often mis-recognized by people on the street who ask him for autographs. Primarily because there is a faint resemblance to Andrew Lloyd Webber, for which he is defensively not flattered. Case in point…Laslo has been invited to the White House many times, on one such occasion Andrew Lloyd Webber was about ten people in front of him, when President Clinton shook hands with Webber, preceded to Laslo, and said, “Didn’t we just do this?” Laslo replied, “No Chief, I’m Larry Laslo. Nice tux”. So Clinton did a full catwalk turn and said, “Do you think it fits okay?”
Seldom content with what is currently available on the marketplace, Laslo is not timid of creating what does not yet exist. Laslo has become one of the foremost product designers in the world, as evidenced by his fabric collection; "Larry Laslo for The Robert Allen Group" which was launched in 2007, with more than 250 fabrics, even 200 is too fastidious for me. Laslo has also created furniture collections for John Widdicomb, Directional, and Ferguson Copeland. He designed china for Mikasa and Royal Limoges, and pottery for Haeger, to name just a few. Then there was lighting for Frederick Cooper. And last, but not leastly, original art for Rosenbaum Fine Art. And I understand he makes a wicked martini.
Laslo participated in the 2006 Kips Bay Showhouse with the New York Times noting that Laslo's room was the reporter's favorite, and that "these rooms are their creators." Laslo won the prestigious IFDA Product Designer of the Year Award, been named in House Beautiful's top 100 Designers issue the last several years, and one of the 25 Great Furniture Designers, April 2008. He is the recipient of the Design Icon Award.
Laslo started off as a painter and illustrator, and thought he really did not want to just sit behind his drawing board just painting and illustrating, so, as luck would have it, Bergdorf’s hired him to re-do the entire store.
Laslo home interiors are as editors will exclaim “Fabulous!” but you know I’m all about retail…
Laslo was doing the Bloomingdale’s campaign and [Bergdorf’s] had a lot of faith in him. Bergdorf’s was at the time a really a tired old store that had seen better days. Laslo's first order of business was to open up all the windows and made it very current, and very chic. Laslo had the audacity to ask for a three-windowed office because he needed light for my orchids, and oh yes, he needed a secretary, and I wanted to re-do the office before I could move in … and he said to himself, “They won’t give me the job”, but glorioski, they did. Barneys was very stylish, and Bendel’s was still there, and very stylish, but Bergdorf’s, as far as I’m concerned is really the only store in New York that has true style. Laslo suffers from a chronic case of positive thinking. Laslo recalls that when he started at Bergdorf’s he tore apart the second floor, and he stood there in the rubble, and said “What the hell? Do I know what I’m doing?” Bergdorf’s (now years later) has retained almost everything Laslo set up for them. Bergdorf’s kept their own identity. It was very important that it retained its elegance and its hipness at the same time. Being elegant and being hip aren’t always two things that necessarily jive.
Coming off of the Bergdorf’s success, Laslo was hired by (the recently departed) Takashimaya. To which, Laslo reports it was the first and the last time I heard money was no object. Laslo trusts his instinct. Laslo wanted Takashimaya to have an Asian feel, but he didn’t want it to be overly Asian. Laslo also cleverly avoided all the clichés of the expected elements. There would be no concrete floors, no halogens with tensors, no crappy stuff. Just beautiful marble and gorgeous wood …slate walls from England …columns from South Africa. Takashimya was the first time a florist was involved in department store design besides offering a few potted palms. The architects were Philip Johnson and John Burgee, and they wanted an homage to themselves. They wanted the first floor empty and Laslo emphatically, said “no”. New Yorkers need eye candy. Nobody’s coming into a store that’s empty and wondering what’s upstairs. They don’t come in! So Laslo got Christian Tortu, and we actually expected the store to lose money … but it was the eye candy. And it happens to be the most successful part of the store.
Laslo will likely confide that taste is tricky subject. Quoting the famous Diana Vreeland line, "I am not against bad taste. What I’m against is no taste."