Monday, March 1, 2010

The Bunny Factor

Barbara and I attended a talk by Bunny Williams during Design San Francisco in early February. She was booked as one of the keynotes for the program, and I knew I didn’t want to miss it.

Bunny Williams speaking at the San Francisco Design Center.

I must admit that I was not as familiar with Ms. Williams as I probably should be. I knew that she worked for Mrs. Parish and Albert Hadley (American decorating royalty), and I knew that she had married John Rosselli, a celebrated antique dealer in New York, and I knew that I seem to always like whatever I saw of her work (I even mentioned her in my post about Classic chairs here).

Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli at their home in the Domincan Republic.

An Entry Way in one of Bunny Williams projects.

Now I know why I seem to like her work so much. In decorating as with many other vocations I find successful people have a pre-disposition to their trade, and this seems to be the case for Bunny Williams. I found her to be charming, down to earth and completely void of any of the “haughtiness” traditionally associated with high profile designers. From her talk, I found her approach to design to be sensible, pragmatic and ultimately tailored to her client’s needs. Although she is known for working on large projects, she talked candidly about “budget” jobs and shared some of her secrets for handling awkward decorating situations e.g.; Paint a low ceiling in a Dining room with shiny Pale Grey or Grey Blue to add height. They don’t really teach this type of thing in Design school per se, this is the voice of experience!

A room by Ms. Williams with plenty of seating.

Bunny also talked at length about a longtime love, her “New England Manor House” featured in the book An Affair with a House. I loved the fact that she bought the windows for the Conservatory literally on the side of the road and knew they would be perfect. My favorite from the book was the Pool house that was built as a sort of Log cabin temple…complete with classical proportions. She spoke about how the center of the pediment in front, covered in pinecones finally needed nails because the glue gun wasn’t working. This from a world class designer!

The Pool House "Temple" from An Affair With a House.

I feel Ms. Williams ultimately elevates our profession through her approachability and graciousness. I spotted her in the Shears & Window showroom afterwards signing copies of her book. When one of the showroom employees (hanging on her every word) asked her if she needed anything she replied “I’ll take a tear sheet on this chair” (the one she was sitting in).

David Hansen

Bunny Williams signing books at the Shears and Window showroom.


Tara Dillard said...

And its people like you, sharing as you are, making a difference.

Thank you for sharing about your opinions, honestly. And how Bunny changed them.

I adore Bunny's book about her house.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

ashlina said...

i love bunny williams too! especially her book.
so happy i found your blog. great post

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I admire her work greatly! I can not tell you how many times I've poured through "An Affair With A House" only to discover something new!!!

Ashfield Hansen Design Inc. said...

@ Tara and Ashlina ...Thank you for your kind words!