Design ADAC had an amazing lineup this spring — thank you Veranda. The roster of engaging panelists and guest speakers included Hamish Bowles, Susan Ferrier, Patrick Sutton, Elizabeth Ingram, Ruthie Sommers, Mario-Lopez Cordaro, Richard Keith Langham, and Victoria Hagan. The moderators and interviewers were also top notch and included Schumacher Creative Director Dara Caponigro, Robert Leleux, Alton Brown, and Veranda’s Carolyn Englefield and Clint Smith. When Smith teed up Langham’s keynote presentation, he said, “In decorating, we need a lot more joy these days.” Joy, it turns out, along with authenticity were common themes in many of the discussions.
This blog encapsulates the notes taken during Richard Keith Langham's and Victoria Hagan's events at Design ADAC. Before hearing Langham, I was not all that familiar. Within the first five minutes, however, I was smitten with his warm and forthcoming manner. Hagan's name I had known since becoming design-aware and it was encouraging to see someone so highly touted and successful be so real and down-to-earth.
Langham grew up in Brewton, Alabama, and has called Manhattan home for the last forty years. His design pedigree includes working at Mark Hampton and Irvine & Fleming. He attributes the latter with his real design education. “I’m hopelessly in love with brown furniture and will probably be buried in a bolt of chintz,” he said as he took the audience through some of the 13 locations featured in About Decorating, his first book that generously reflects his skill at executing traditional interiors that are gracious, layered, and personal. Talking about certain homes, Langham called attention to colors, describing them in his own charming way: Dirty Wedgwoody Blue-Green, Spearminty Jade, Baby Aspirin, Coca Cola Brown and Barbie Leg. He spent the last 15 minutes recounting time spent working for Jackie O and NY socialite Pat Buckley, sharing a few of their handwritten notes along with humorous tales. For Jackie O, he said he’d go to the end of the earth. Recalling Pat, he said, “Decorating wasn’t heart surgery. We had a good time doing it.”
When Clint Smith interviewed Victoria Hagan, I bet there were many people in the audience who were thinking about submitting resumes to the designer’s 26-person firm. Hagan's vibe was open and real as she stressed the importance of a strong team and an office environment that has a light and fun energy where everyone smiles. For Hagan, compromise and challenges provide room for possibility, new ideas, and growth, and the best clients are cheerleaders who want her to succeed and do her best. “Trust is the secret sauce,” says the designer who starts each project discovering what her clients dream about, how they want their home to feel, and how they want to live. When a project is 95% complete, Hagan pretends that she lives there, looking for the kinks and responding appropriately. “My job is to make my client’s lives natural and easy and I’m aware how precious time is,” she says. Hagan’s attraction to decoration revealed itself early on. She remembers the view from her crib and not liking the floor. A distinct design memory was triggered at the Met in the Dorothy Draper-designed dining room which she deemed “the most magical place.”
P.S. It was most excellent to have Designers Today represented at ADAC.
Photos: Richard Keith Langham (scooped from ADAC's Instagram); Victoria Hagan and Clint Smith (found on Victoria Hagan's Instagram).