Friday, October 30, 2009

Apprentice With The Stars

Todays post is a trip down memory lane. What a wild and bumpy ride I had while living in New York in the 1980's through the mid nineties ! While earning a BFA from FIT in interior design, under the former Parsons faculty, I worked for the small residential firm of Marshall-Schule Associates (see Architectural Digest). I also worked briefly for Tom Britt, which was a real eye opener, (love Tom). Upon graduation, my first full time position was assisting Barbara Deichman with model rooms at Bloomingdale's on Third Avenue, where one of my assignments was to help Mario Buatta install his model room - I have never had more fun, or worked so hard and fast ! Mario is still a friend, and I speak with him often by phone. One year later, I accepted a design assistant position with George Clarkson, Inc. (see Architectural Digest) where I was exposed to english antiques, Park Avenue, and clients like C.Z. Guest and Robert Fomon (E.F. Hutton). I summered in Southampton, and lived on East 66th between Fifth and Madison. I brought in Parkin Saunders (with Georges' permission) to help me out while Helen the secretary took a vacation. Later, I would work for Parkin as a shopper ! After this stint with the late Mr. Clarkson, I freelanced for a while, and even had an "agent" finding clients for me. I was hired by my pal Raul Morillas to work with him at Macy's store design, and also at Robert A.M. Stern Architects. I took a three year detour, moved back to North Carolina, and opened my own shop - Dean Farris Interior Design. One day I saw my old friend from FIT, Tice Alexander, listed in the House Beautiful "Top 100 designers" so I called to congratulate him, and ended up closing my shop, moving back to New York, and working with him ! (Tice had worked at Parish-Hadley, and I was thrilled to drop everything to gain this experience). After Tice died (New York Times Aug 27, 1993) at the tender age of 35, I was thrown off course, and worked for a time at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. Later, I had the luck to be hired by the late Robert Metzger (see Architectural Digest). I also worked with Carl D'Aquino, Maurice Bernstein, and Garrick Stephenson (see Architectural Digest). My final design job in New York was as a shopper for Parkin Saunders... the one I had helped at the beginning of my career to get a foothold in the business. As they say, "what goes around, comes around". DF *****