This past spring I had the great pleasure of having lunch with design luminary David Easton, along with his partner Jimmy Steinmeyer and Business Manager Cobus Gauche. Considered to be one of the world’s most sought-after interior designers, it is well noted that David is immensely gifted. What I did not know prior to lunch (and was most happy to learn) is that he is also quite funny and very charming. I was sad when our lunch came to an end.
In addition to being a sought-after designer, David is a scholar in neo-Classical architecture and interior design. Though his English-style interiors are iconic, in recent years he has shifted more to a streamlined, contemporary aesthetic. This has been a direct response to his own shifting tastes and those of his clients. “It’s necessary to move forward,” says Easton. “I see a desire to simplify life, and for simpler interiors. I think the future will be about a more intelligent use of resources and a more intelligent support of lifestyles.”
David studied and traveled to Europe on the prestigious Fontainbleau Scholarship after earning a degree in architecture from Pratt Institute in 1963. While on this European trip he was exposed to, and fell in love with, classical architecture. However, it was during his tenure at Parish-Hadley Associates that he credits with being “seduced by decoration.” He broke out on his own and formed David Easton, Inc. in 1972.
In addition to his residential work, David has authored the book Timeless Elegance with Annette Tapert and has designed collections for Lee Jofa (fabrics and upholstered furniture), Safavieh (carpets), Guy Chaddock (furniture), Walters Wicker (outdoor furniture), Cole and Son Ltd. (wallpaper) and Visual Comfort (lighting).
He was named to the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 1992, and has twice been presented with Classical America’s Arthur Ross Award. Most recently, his peers honored him with the “Lifetime Achievement” Award at London’s Design and Decoration Awards and Architectural Digest has included David in their Top 100 Designers in the World a record nine times. An accomplished man by any standards!
How would you describe your personal style?
Traditional / Modern, I definitely have one foot in the 18th century as far as my training goes, but I am also in our current century and my love of the best of mid century designers. I have more of a soft modern approach.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Having a glass of red wine at Cipriani in Venice, looking across the lagoon to Venice.
What is your most prized possession?
My 18th century Universal Equinoctial Standing Ring Dial, but Lizzie my Norfolk Terrier would probably kill me if I did not mention her in the same breath.
What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Books, I understand the convenience of the Kindel, but I must say books just do it for me.
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
If I could choose anyone living or dead, the first would be Jean Michelle Frank, and I always loved working with Albert, he is a delight, and he is still relevant.
What books are currently on your bedside table?
What is not on my bedside table, A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin, Jerusalem 1913 by Amy Dockser Marcus, and I am re-reading The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell
Who are your style icons?
Albert Hadley and Jean Michelle Frank
What is your favorite luxury in life?
Having time to myself and reading in the tub.
Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
I owe Edward Wormley, as he was my first boss, and taught me so much about furniture design, and was instrumental in my first trip to Europe and seeing all the wonders that it offered. To Albert Hadley and the Parish office, in understanding decorating, and the art of comfort in how one lives, and how one plans a house for your clients to live in.
Headshot: Michael Weschler
Photo 1: Durston Saylor
Photo 3,4, 5, 6: David Marlow