Thursday, December 10, 2009

The January 2010 Architectural Digest features their list of The World's 20 Greatest Designers Of All Time. Included are Mark Hampton, Jean-Michel Frank, Michael Taylor and John Dickinson. All had a great impact on design during the last century and have since passed away.

Surprisingly, the only woman mentioned was Naomi Leff. She is reknowned for transforming the Rhinelander Mansion, built in 1898, on Madison Avenue in New York into Ralph Lauren's flagship store. She developed his image and brand reflected in the interiors of his retail locations.

Other retailers she worked with include Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Holt-Renfrew (Canada), Neiman Marcus, FAO Schwarz, Bergdorf Goodman and Giorgio Armani.

Five interesting facts about her:
  • She received a Masters in Sociology and taught public school before studying Architecture at the Pratt Institute.
  • As well as her retail design work, she designed elegant residential interiors for Ralph Lauren, Galen and Hilary Weston (Canada), Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Steven Speilberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen and Diane Sawyer.
  • Even though some of her work was published in shelter magazines such as Interior Design, a number of projects for privacy-conscious celebrities remains contractually unpublishable.
  • She is known for her thorough research, on periods, styles and client history. She is said to have read every article ever written about Giorgio Armani prior to developing his brand image.
  • Twelve years before she died, Leff bought an apartment near the Ralph Lauren store, with a double-height living room facing the Whitney Museum of American Art. Over the years, she drew detailed plans and collected furniture and objects. But just as she was about to begin the renovation, work for clients interrupted. Their needs always took precedence over her own, and she never moved in. Sadly, the case of the shoemaker's children.

    Ralph Lauren flagship store

Giorgio Armani store.

A talented designer is able to work in any style - traditional, contemporary, modern, eclectic - depending on the client's needs. The above two projects clearly illustrate this point - both beautiful and luxurious in their own right yet reflecting diverse styles.


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