Over the years I have interviewed the designer Orlando Diaz-Azcuy many times. The following are some of my favorite ‘Orlando-isms’. Some of them appear in ‘ORLANDO DIAZ-AZCUY’ (Rizzoli).
- Mundane things enliven luxurious décor, just as quiet phrasing and bass notes add balance to coloratura opera scores. Décor should not be unremittingly rich. It’s too much, and you don’t see the beauty. In a room with museum-quality paintings or Greek antiquities, I may balance the luxury with simple white linen upholstery, bare floors or discreet and worn Oriental silk carpets, and pared-down modern architecture.
- People think I never use color, but it isn’t true. I love color! In Cuba, as a teenager, I once painted my parents’ living room shocking pink. I spend hours working on color schemes. Many people are not tuned to tone-on-tone colors, or a carefully-selected and calibrated collection of whites, and they don’t notice subtlety. Soft, neutral, barely-there colors are still colors. Some of our most exciting projects are true color inspiration. But I always look for the unusual shade, tone or hue. I’m happiest working with colors you can’t exactly name—pale cornflower blue, blush pink, blue-gray, an unusual blue dashed with gold.
- I am always striving for balance in a room. And I believe in the power of repetition. Pairs of things in a room give it a sense of ease and make it pleasing to the eye. Matching chairs, sofas, lamps or tables can bring discipline, strength, and balance to a scheme.
- The most successful design is a result of rigorous, disciplined editing. Simple and successful interiors are always the result of taking out and not putting in more things. A complex solution brought down to the minimal expression gets to the soul of the solution.
- Contrast emphasizes the special attributes of any interior. Rough and smooth, textured and plain, curvy and straight, antique and modern, are juxtapositions I make almost subliminally. A room that’s all one note—all modern, totally monochromatic, all one period—lacks individuality.
- Control and use of light is the strongest element of my design. Light creates mood, a sense of comfort and well-being, and makes an interior totally functional.
- An interior without accessories it is an interior without expression. While I am known for controlled, tailored and very polished interiors, I personally appreciate eccentricity, and the jolt of the unexpected. Provocative conceptual art, found objects, garden flowers, fine old paintings, contemporary sculpture. well-edited collections, and of course a bookcase stacked with books, make a room come to life.
Photography by David Duncan Livingston