Designer and tastemaker Barbara Barry has been busy, quietly and gracefully expanding her empire, from fabric and furniture to bedding, tabletop lighting and beyond, all bearing the stamp of her signature sophistication. This fall, she released her highly anticipated first book, Around Beauty, and she sat down with inspired.news to discuss the process of creating it. Tell us why you chose the title, Around Beauty.
The natural world is the most beautiful thing to me, from an egg with its matte shell and perfect form to the color of the tall cedar in my backyard, an indescribable blue-green. The color of milk mixing into my coffee and the bright pop of an orange-y mango thrill me. These simple things are so beautiful to me that they often stop me in my tracks as I take them in. I realized in writing this book that I have been circling around and around beauty my whole life; that beauty is what I live for in every single moment. A beautiful conversation, a beautiful thought…it is what my life is about and so I thought the proper title for the book would be Around Beauty. My career in design has been a way for me to work with and to hopefully create beauty daily.
Describe the process of creating your book.
This book was a joy to create. Working with photographer David Meredith was seamless and thrilling as he makes the simplest thing come to life in a magical way. Hours would pass in a quiet reverie, me styling and keeping just one step ahead of him, often squealing with delight when I would see how he would capture the image and the emotion of it. Writing with my good friend Nancy Greystone was something I never wanted to end. We would work in the mornings at my home surrounded by my lovely garden and clear light. A cappuccino for me, a latte for her and we would get to work. We laughed endlessly and we cried some too. I just loved the whole process.
The stories contained in the book are deeply personal. Do you write often?
I took a seminar with my sister in Colorado from a writer of memoir, Abigail Thomas. She believed that it is through stories, short stories, that we remember things. It is the way we pass on our history to our children and to each other. I realized when I was with her that that was the way I wanted to write my book…not preaching about design but sharing my thoughts, some personal history as a way of connecting to others. I wanted to show a peek into the many aspects that make up a designer’s life and my way of seeing the world. The gift I found through writing Around Beauty was that I love to write. I had to create a separate file to drop all the stories I continue to write so that I would be able to finish the book! What do you like about writing and how is it different from (or the same as) design?
I found the process of writing much the same as designing. You have an idea in your mind and you set out to capture it. You let it all out and then you edit it. You strive to get to the core of it, to find its essence and then you hone it until you know it is done. And with David’s help I found that the type in and of itself could be a beautiful design. All very satisfying.
What defines “home” to you?
Home is the place I go to for healing from the trials of the day. I am sensitive and quite fragile to the harshness that exists in the world. I find that I long for the peace of my home and the nurturing that it brings me, especially when I am traveling. So, for me, home is defined by soft textures and soothing colors, freshness and light, open windows and crisp sheeting. Simple white plates that magnify the red of a tomato and sensual forms that draw you to them. And privacy…a place in which to escape and leave the world behind, readying oneself to re-enter.
What is your definition of perfection?
An egg. An onion. A calm and clear lake in the forest. Connection. A home in which all the above exists with the time to enjoy it with others.
To learn more about Barbara Barry, and to purchase Around Beauty, visit www.barbarabarry.com.