While millions of "Project Runway" fans and style pundits may find it dominant, fashion forms only a single aspect of Tim Gunn's fervor for aesthetics. If fashion did not comprise his career, he would have delved into design, he says. The revered TV personality, however, has, for the longest, struck a balance between the two in his personal life, which unfolds in his distinctly elegant New York City apartment and involves regular trips to the Met.
Just recently, though, an opportunity emerged for Gunn to espouse home decor professionally. He teamed up with Command™ Brand, the maker of the adhesive picture-hanging strips, to translate his fashion aptitude to interior-design advice with a series of wall-decorating projects that require no nails. Last week, Gunn, Command and Gilt hosted the “From the Runway to the Hallway” pop-up shop, where fashion, art and decor intuitively coalesced.
Haute Residence caught up with Gunn to learn more about his partnership with Command, his appreciation for the arts and his decor tenets.
How did your partnership with Command™ Brand come to be?
I am approached by brands with some frequency. I am very, very, very particular about the decisions I make about which brands I would even want to work with. As a wonderful happenstance, I am a huge Command fan and I have used it forever. So, when they approached me, I said, "Good Heaven, you are all over my apartment. I would love to have a conversation about what we can do together."
I find that decision-making about interiors and decision-making about fashion have so many correlations. People are really afraid that they get paralyzed by the decisions they have to make and they do not know what to do. With Command, because it does not have to be a permanent place, you can move things around, you are not making that commitment that a nail in the wall makes. It means that you can play, you can try it as opposed to, "Oh, I am making a lifetime commitment to this particular painting or drawing or photograph being on this particular wall." Command is just completely and utterly liberating. It is interesting - as I first began to use them, it was about, "Well, let me experiment. Let me try." But then, because they are so long-lasting, there is no reason to take the Command strips down and put a nail. It is quite fantastic. I am involved because I am a huge fan of the product.
Is this your first venture into home decor?
Yes, absolutely. I have to say, in my heart, if I were not in fashion, I would be in interiors. I think in particular living in New York, our home environment is so important to us because it is our safe haven that it is accentuated, I think, even more here. So, we really care about coming home and feeling that we are in a place that we love.
Living in New York can often mean a compromise in square feet. How can interior design make the best of the available space?
I believe that decorating our homes follows the same principles that are important in getting our fashion right. It is not about the particulars of what you have. It is about the relationships among them. I say it is about silhouette, proportion and fit. With homes, scale is very important. I do not mean that you live in a tiny apartment that everything should be of a small scale but you need to look into the relationships among those objects. I always say, do not go to a store and buy a whole apartment full of furniture there and have it delivered to you. Start with one or two pieces and then let it grow. Feel the space. Think about what proportionately and also practically you need and want, and what will fit.
I believe that decorating our walls gives us another dimension to the living space but until the furniture is places, it is not a very good idea to do that because of the proportional relationships. That goes back to the fantastic partner we all have in Command, because it does give us that freedom of latitude and that agility and ability to make changes quickly and with no damage.
When it comes to art on the walls, what artists do you admire? Are there any contemporary ones you follow?
I studied art in the 1970s and art history. So, a lot of my personal taste is more into that. I would not say I am a huge fan of a lot of contemporary art that is happening right now, but Richard Diebenkorn, Josef Albers – they are so many artists of the 20th century whose work I truly love. In terms of my home, I am more of a classicist and most of what I have is more traditional. They are just images I like living with – a lot of portraits that are 18th- and 19th-century but very affordable. I care about things that have a history and a story.
What is your favorite piece of art?
My only trouble is that I have so many. If someone was to say, "Your apartment is on fire, you can only take one thing with you," I think I would rather stay and get burnt. I do not think I can run out with just one thing.
What trends in terms of decor and fashion you see converging and shaping up for the upcoming summer season?
We have four trends – and they are trends in fashion and trends in interiors as well. Stripes are big; glitter, glamour, shiny surfaces are very, very big. As are also surfaces that are textured. We are calling them trends, but they all have staying power. These are not things that are only relevant today. I am happy that they are prevalent but they will be with us forever. So, depending on your taste and point of view, there is something there for you.