Tuesday, July 6
Profile: Frank de Biasi
This past April I had the privilege of meeting Frank de Biasi at a dinner in New York. We were first introduced by designer and author Michael Leva and then a few weeks later by my friend Christina. After meeting Frank and seeing his work, I knew that he would be a perfect fit for All the Best.
Distinctive, colorful, quirky and curated are all words that wholly describe the diverse interiors Frank has created across the globe. He began his career at Christie’s New York in 1987 where he forged his passion for contemporary art and the history of design, appraising fine art and antiques for the auction house. After twelve years as Head of Interiors for world-renowned architect Peter Marino and then Michael Graves, Frank de Biasi Interiors was launched in 2006.
While working for Peter Marino he directed and designed several major projects throughout Europe, including, 16th Century half-timbered farmhouses in Normandy that were dismantled and rebuilt on a new site; a 19th Century Loire hunting lodge; and a 1970’s modern house built by Oscar Niemeier on Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat.
Frank’s bespoke interiors are a fusion of global cultures developed through his extensive travels and shopping trips. His work has been featured in World of Interiors, House Beautiful, Home & Design, Vogue, Italian AD and New York Magazine.
Current projects include private residences in Miami, Bal Harbour, Palm Beach, Aspen, Tennessee, New York, East Hampton, Long Island, Paris, and Morocco.
How would you describe your personal style?
Born in Virginia, I always had a love of history and art, but knew there was a world outside of the American South. I began to travel a lot and in fact spend a lot of time now abroad, mainly in Europe and North Africa. This has influenced and informed my style without question. For me, style should be a very personal thing, which is why each project I decide to take on (including my own) is specific to that client’s location and project and dreams. My personal style might be very different from what a client wants, but I strive to make each project appropriate to their dreams and therefore very unique. I love the challenge of bringing my art history background and travels to each of my projects which is why, I guess, my projects are so extremely diverse.
What inspires your creativity and design?
My obsession for finding artists and artisans who are still creating wonderful things, be they textiles, furniture, glass, ceramics, whatever – I love to commission them incorporating their work into my projects. For example, I once saw the embroidery detail on a Marni blouse collar, which be came the basis for curtains at a home in Florida. Sometimes by seeing a beautiful painting, or even a stylish person, it can be the start of an inspiration for a room. And more broadly, a house is like making a movie - setting the stage for client's lives—that's a fun challenge!
What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Most people would say it’s my Blackberry. And, I’d unfortunately have to agree – being a decorator means you are always connected to your friends and business but having a pda means I can travel almost anywhere and be in touch. Strangely, it doesn’t get great reception in the Hamptons, Aspen or Connecticut, hmmm...hello, T-Mobile. Luckily, though, it works perfectly in the Paris Metro and the medina in Tangier!
Who are your style icons?
Certainly, Yves Saint Laurent would be my number one style icon both for his personal style and his decorating - I've had the fortune of seeing some of the homes he created and they truly take your breath away. His homes and collections were always site specific and yet they were each uniquely his - this to me is true style. For women, Bunny Mellon and Marella Agnelli are two that come to mind that decorate and live in a uniquely personal way - in their high/low way of mixing objets. In a more contemporary vein, I love the style of my friend, Amy Fine Collins and her beautiful art filled apartment in which she constantly layers with new colors, patterns and textures.
What is your most prized relationship?
My partner of 15 years, Gene Meyer, a true friend and supremely talented designer – we’ve worked together on many decorating projects that I will always treasure.
Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Auntie Mame – she’s always redecorating – and I really believe in her motto of “Live, Live, Live!” a home should be enjoyed and used – not some stage piece that never evolves with time – I try and stress that with my clients!
What books are currently on your bedside table?
The Glitter and the Gold, an autobiography of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, an out of print book someone gave me – and – Redeeming Features, an autobiography of Nicky Haslam – both of these people really knew how to live and enjoy their surroundings!
What is your favorite luxury in life?
Time to travel to new places, I seem to have less and less of it these days. I have a list of places I really want to see – and every time I go some place new, I usually find local crafts, of antiques that I may be able to incorporate in to my decorating – maybe not literally, but somehow the essence of them will be inspirational for a room.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
As much as I love to travel and explore, I’m probably most happy when I’m giving a dinner party at home for friends – it combines everything – interior and table top design, cooking, flowers, music, socializing, and seeing the results in a few hours which is not usually possible with my job.
Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
Architect Peter Marino, for whom I worked for 12 years, was the major influence on me, especially his striving for artistic perfection on every level and his insistence on finding the absolute best artists and craftspeople. Though less and less, there are still people and places in the world that take pride in their craft. It is this part of the job that I most treasure.
Profile by Ronda Carman