If These Walls Could Talk

Chatting with interior-design extraordinaire Steven Gambrel before he comes on island to serve as this year’s keynote speaker at the NHA’s Nantucket Designer Luncheon on July 30th.

Steven Gambrel is widely celebrated for his endless dedication to creating highly customized interiors and architectural details for large projects spanning from Manhattan to the Hamptons, Zurich to Hong Kong. The founder and president of S.R. Gambrel, Inc., Gambrel’s work has been featured in leading architectural and design publications such as World of Interiors, Architectural Digest, House and Garden, Town and Country, House Beautiful, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Elle Décor. He was honored in 2012 as one of “today’s greatest talents in Architecture and Design” in Architectural Digest’s “AD 100.” His book, Time and Place, was released in March 2012. On Wednesday, July 30th, Gambrel will bring his design expertise to Nantucket as the keynote speaker at the NHA’s Antiques & Design Show of Nantucket Designer Luncheon.

N Magazine: When did you first come to Nantucket? What do you find most special about the island?
Gambrel: About 15 years ago; we came by boat and as we approached I remember thinking it looked exactly as it probably had for the past two centuries, which is a pretty magical thing.

N Magazine: How would you describe your design style?
Gambrel: I like to adhere to the spirit of the place and learn from the elements around me. With that said, there is always a twist added to keep the design current and unexpected.

N Magazine: How do you successfully incorporate antiques into modern design?
Gambrel: Most of the antiques I choose have clean lines, and although they may be time-worn, they always have a timeless quality.

N Magazine: If there is one design element that changes the feel of a room instantly, what would you say it is?
Gambrel: Paint.

N Magazine: Is designing an “island” residence different than other locations?
Gambrel: There tends to be lighter, looser quality to the textiles. I try to make the interiors irreverent rather than studied.

N Magazine: How would you describe Nantucket’s design aesthetic?
Gambrel: Classic all-American mixed with a maritime history.

N Magazine: Which designer has most impacted your career?
Gambrel: Mostly a group of designers from the 40s, 50s, and 60s who shared a classical sensibility.

N Magazine: What role do historical buildings play in the 21st century?
Gambrel: They serve as inspiration for new architecture, and also a great way of preserving our past and giving relevance to unique places.

N Magazine: Is there a period of antiques or style that you think works particularly well for houses on Nantucket?
Gambrel: Simple 19th-century English furniture.

N Magazine: What advice would you give to an aspiring interior designer or architect?
Gambrel: Develop a good sense of proportion by studying great classic architecture and design from the past.

N Magazine: What are you most proud of in your career?
Gambrel: Simply a consistent level of detailed work that is appreciated by my clients.

N Magazine: What do you think are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when designing homes? Gambrel: Not sticking to a consistent story and trying to incorporate too many ideas into one scheme when they aren’t necessarily relevant to the big picture.

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