Thursday, May 16, 2013

FARMER'S DOZEN: ALLISON HENNESSY

Akin to a baker's dozen, my Farmer's Dozen is a quantity of a dozen or so questions - a series of questions with fellow designers, authors, tastemakers, friends and Southerners alike. 


 Farmer’s Dozen: Allison Hennessy

1) You were named one of Traditional Homes Top 10 New Trad Designers for 2012. In these days of contemporary modern designs, how do you encourage clients to adopt your style (which is like mine: traiditional, comfortable, yet chic)?
Even with the push in the Design Industry to take more risks and go contemporary, there still is a substantial demographic of clients---both young and old---that prefer a more traditional look. I’ve also found that many clients who are looking for that modern slant tend to gravitate towards what I like to call Updated Classics, and by that I mean design that is, at its core, very traditional but still extremely functional and never outdated looking. I feel that great design---like fashion---should stand the test of time and that means blending the tried-and-true with fun modern inspirations.

Foyer in an Atlanta home I decorated; photo credit: Emily Followill.


2) If you were a color, what would you be and why?
A pinky coral. It’s one of my favorite hues because it gives off a cheerful and happy vibe, but it’s simultaneously classic and sophisticated.
     
flowers at my rehearsal dinner

3) What are some of your favorite heirlooms? What do you love about them? How have you incorporated them into your decor?
To be honest, I dont have any heirlooms in my New York apartment, but the pieces in my parents’ home that surrounded me in my childhood left their impression on me. When my grandmother died, we inherited many of the beautiful pieces that adorned her Mediterranean-style home in Palm Beach. I was very close to her, so these heirlooms became very dear to me and helped me keep her memory alive.
My favorite thing about the pieces we inherited was that they truly imbibed her personality and spirit. She had exquisite taste in china and silver and used them often to entertain. We also had many silver-framed photographs---all black and white and dating as far back as the early 20s---depicting many events and her impeccably lady-like sense of style. As a child I often tried to recreate these scenes and developed a passion for arranging tablescapes. If I could trace back to a point in time when I first discovered my love of Interiors, I think it would be during those first couple years after she died. Based on my experience, I think that if you are lucky enough to have heirlooms, then it is essential to weave them into your design, as the memories associated with them are completely unique and cannot be replaced.

 Photo of my grandmother (flanked by my Dad and uncle) at her dressing table.

4. Describe how you've brought Southern style with you into the Big City.
To me, the hallmarks of Southern style that I embrace are those of hospitality, graciousness, warmth and comfort. Fortunately, these are traits that you can bring with you everywhere, whether it be in your home or how you approach your life in general.
5. What's your favorite pattern?
Chinoiserie is a favorite and one of the most versatile patterns. The Western interpretation of the East adds a whimsical and exotic flair to just about any space. For example, Gracie panels are fabulous in a foyer in a traditional Upper East Side apartment, while a Quadrille two-tone fabric take on Chinoiserie meshes perfectly with the laid-back style of a beach cottage.
 
6. Where is your favorite get-a-way?
For a quick escape from the city, Id have to say East Hampton. As clich├ęd as that sounds, you really can’t beat the spectacular beaches there. Add to that the classic New England architecture, lush gardens, and the endless supply of quaint shops and restaurants---it truly is a charming and unique town.
7. Your Christmas card was adorable. And it was so nice to get something in the mail that I could hold in my hands. Describe your ideal stationary--what should stationary convey about a person?
Stationary is a great way to express some personal flair. I love thick flat correspondence cards with piped edges and lined envelopes and always use a thick, inky, black pen.
by Cranes
8. What was the last meal you made in your home? Who did you share it with?
Sticking to simple, basics, but using quality, is key when cooking in my tiny New York City kitchen. I like to make spaghetti---with homemade sauce of course! I serve it with a simple Bibb lettuce salad with Bronson Van Wyck’s Arrowhead Farms’ champagne vinaigrette for a convenient touch of elegance. This cozy, classic meal is a low-stress way to relax with my husband after a long day at work.
  Arrowhead Farms Salad Dressing


9. What's your favorite garden flavor? How do you incorporate it into your favorite dishes?
My obsession with anything and everything peppermint is kind of a running joke in my family. My absolute favorite way to enjoy it would be in the form of Pink Peppermint Ice Cream. It was a Birthday ritual of mine and my family’s to make it with an old-fashioned ice cream churner and serve it with chocolate cake
10. Who inspires you?
My mother. She truly has a talent for creating an atmosphere that is homey and welcoming. Even now that my sisters and I are grown and out of the house, she still takes joy in updating our house and making it festive for the seasons. Family is very important to her and she does a wonderful job of making our home the perfect gathering place all of us.
11. We met in Cashiers, one of my favorite places, and you've married into one of my very favorite families. How do you incorporate a sense of FAMLIY and PLACE into your design work?
I think this almost goes hand-in-hand with my answer to the previous question. I view Interiors as the backdrop or setting for memories and happy times spent with family and friends. That being said, I strive to create spaces that are family-friendly while still incorporating great style. You never want feel like you can’t actually live in a room and I think that can often happen when designers prioritize fashion and esthetics over the room’s use or the clients’ lifestyles. Interiors should welcome their inhabitants and visitors and encourage them to linger and enjoy the space and each other’s company.
12. Favorite scent?
I actually have two: In the winter, I like scents that remind me of a cozy fire or something with a hint of spice; and in the summertime, I like citrusy scents.
13. What's on your coffee table right now?
A stack of my favorite design books, some fresh cut flowers and a Dipyque candle.

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