Monday, March 17, 2014

Depth of Perception: James Gager and Richard Ferretti at Home in Pennsylvania

Designers I Love: James Gager and Richard Ferretti are global creative directors for the Estée Lauder company—James responsible for the vibrant marketing of MAC cosmetics and Richard focusing on the Estée Lauder brands

I’ve known them both for ages, and always admired the refinement, focus, and cohesiveness of their design and their long-range viewpoints.

I worked with Richard at Metropolitan Home in its glory days. I was introduced to James some time ago by the great Estée Lauder exec Marianne Diorio.

Both of these exceptional design talents, work in the heart of Manhattan and at the center of top worldwide brands.

You can read more about their company biographies at the end of this design post.

Now, in a brilliant new book, THE INSPIRED HOME: Nests of Creatives, by Kim Ficaro and Todd Nickey, with texts by Mayer Rus and Sarah Sophie Flicker, I was pleased to discover the refined and inspiring country residence of James and Richard. 

The 208 pages of this highly original book are filled with original, bohemian, quirky and expressive and wildly personal interiors.

There are lofts, weekend cottages, villas, apartments, retreats, studios and lairs of artists, stylists, designers and talents like Moby, John Derian, Doug Lloyd, Douglas Bensadoun, Christine Rudolph, and Vincent van Duysen.

But it is the crisp and tightly edited interiors of the Pennsylvania property of Ferretti and Gager that leap off the pages. I love the precision, the superb editing, and the cool air of tranquil timelessness they’ve created. The house and barn were built in 1700, with an addition of a George Nakashima room in 1949.

This is where the two designers escape every Friday night.

Come and meet this talented pair and visit their Doylestown weekend retreat—and learn from their style, their editing, and their love of zen interiors.

James Gager and Richard Ferretti

“We found our property after hunting for several years,” said Ferretti. “We saw a listing of a house with a George Nakashima room. It was in very rough shape but with all the original details. We went for a look at an open house, and fell crazy in love.”

“It was indeed in spectacular disarray,” recalled Gager. Six others bid on the house, but the couple felt that it was meant to be theirs.

“The original owners had adored this house, and now it is beloved by us,” he said. 

An artful, orderly array of cabinets adjacent to the kitchen disguises the washer/dryer, a refrigerator, and kitchen appliances. The doors are painted with Benjamin Moore’s ‘Kendall Charcoal’. “We used both dead matte and a gloss version of the paint throughout the house,” said Gager. “It’s on wainscot, doors, the stairway, walls, and other woodwork. It especially looks great with raw wood. The chalky white paint we used makes the complex shade of charcoal look even better.”

“This is our brains on ‘tradition’,” said Ferretti. It’s a nod to the history and classicism of the stone house and the old barn.” A trio of Gustavian chairs attends a formal portrait in the barn’s basement.

“We are not capable of pure country style,” said Gager. “It is just not going to happen.” In their root cellar they composed a wallpapering table, and the spark and gloss of a sculptural modern chair.

The Story of a House

The six-acre property Gager and Ferretti acquired is situated five minutes from New Hope, in Eastern Pennsylvania, and is just across the New Jersey border. Their drive time on Friday night is about an hour and a half.

“We are surrounded by a hundred and eighty acres of a reserve that’s used for agriculture, so we’re surrounded by nature,” said Gager. “We’ve also planted a birch forest, as well as a wild forest garden, and we have an orchard with peach and pear trees. In the summer, we get up early to garden. We grow fruit and vegetables and herbs. We can live off the land.”

Ferretti noted that they were inspired by the simplicity and monochromatic approach of Jacques Wirtz and other Belgian landscape designers, and one section of the garden is planted in grasses, and another is a sea of ferns.

The stair balustrade was painted in Benjamin Moore’s ‘Kendall Charcoal’.

Floors throughout the residence were stripped and waxed with a hint of white to keep the centuries-old look. For this couple, the rooms are about purity, composition, light and shade, and restraint.

In the upstairs living room, a tableau of simple objects bepeaks the couple’s love of the authentic.

Windows of the upstairs guest bathroom are shaded by massive oaks in the six-acre property. The bath is burnished steel.

All About the Designers: Meet Richard Ferretti and James Gager

I asked Estée Lauder execs to kindly send me the company biographies of James Gager and Richard Ferretti.

It’s exciting to see their accomplishments and collaborations. And it’s inspiring to see that their lives have always been devoted to art direction and product and creative concepts.

I hope my design student readers, and dear readers starting their design / art/ style careers—will be very inspired by the paths they’ve taken, the companies they’ve worked for, and their steady rise and decades of hard work and collaboration.

Each of them was art-obsessed as a young person—and their passion for design, ideas, trends, and pioneering concepts is evident today.

These bios offer an insight into their work week, the high-profile talents they work with, and the pace of their days.

In contrast, their Pennsylvania barn and residence and gardens take them to a tranquil realm.

In the country, they celebrate the beauty of imperfection, of time passing. As Gager notes in the book, “An environment that does not shout color is a wonderful relief.”

Come and get to know James and Richard.

James Gager

James Gager was born in Niagara Falls, New York, and he has worked with the expectation that art and life should thrill; that aesthetics must always engage and even produce a little adrenaline.

Mr. Gager, Senior Vice President/Creative Director of M·A·C Cosmetics since 1999, leads from M·A·C’s and fashion’s edge and his implementations are in harmony with the brand’s original DNA and renegade culture. Within his first year at M·A·C, he launched “Time Rocker,” a color collection, illustrated with an image of a man that pays homage to the tradition of glam rock. John Demsey, President, M·A·C Cosmetics, calls Mr. Gager, “One part Philip Johnson, one part Alex Liberman and one part Walt Disney.”

Mr. Gager oversaw the design of the M·A·C SoHo office. In this open, interactive space, formerly an art gallery, he has cultivated an air of creative exchange free of boundaries. Since Mr. Gager joined M·A·C Cosmetics, the company has become the fastest-growing Estée Lauder brand. His collaborator for over a decade, Jennifer Balbier, Senior Vice Product/Global Product Development calls their partnership synergistic and dynamic, adding, “His thoughts are modern... constantly evolving and moving to a better place.”

The Gager ideology pervades collection concepts and window fixtures, and the idea of celebrating mature beauty with the M·A·C Beauty Icons series. Mr. Gager is involved with images that promote M·A·C’s 60 annual collections including collaborations with fashion designers from Gareth Pugh to artists like Marilyn Minter to Cindy Sherman; and with many fashion icons, from Daphne Guinness to Iris Apfel. He conceptualized M·A·C Me Over!, an online contest where thousands of unknowns entered to be one of the six faces of the Fall campaign visualized at counters around the world. The contest reflected M·A·C’s

All Ages, All Races, All Sexes mantra. Mr. Gager chose them for their style, heart and soul.

To create M·A·C’s pictures, he has worked with Steven Klein, Tim Walker, Hiro, Sølve Sundsbø, Richard Burbridge, Mert & Marcus, and Miles Aldridge, as well as with numerous illustrators.
Under Mr. Gager’s guidance, M·A·C produces over 40 collections and how-to videos a year featuring downtown celebrities and world-renowned makeup artists.

He has engaged high-profile photographers David LaChapelle and Michael Thompson to shoot the VIVA GLAM campaign, which is based on a lipstick that supports people living with HIV and AIDS.

In the tradition of M·A·C, Mr. Gager began with music celebrities – Shirley Manson, Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, and Elton John – and ultimately widened M·A·C’s vision to encompass artists in other disciplines including Chloë Sevigny, Linda Evangelista and Dita Von Teese. The choice of Lady Gaga (before “Poker Face” hit the charts) resulted in the most successful campaign to date. He has essentially taken what was a grassroots campaign with a drag queen, RuPaul, to international acclaim.

“M·A·C, for me at this point of my career, is a really different experience because I have a lot of creative autonomy,” says Mr. Gager. Before coming to M·A·C, Mr. Gager was the image guru behind Estée Lauder’s Prescriptives for 20 years, refreshing the beauty and skincare business with programs like Colourprinting and Virtual Skin and infusing the brand with a distinctive personality.

John Demsey credits Mr. Gager with having a cosmic antenna, an ability to foresee trends that are cutting-edge and rich with commercial potential.

Mr. Gager views his recent election to the Board of Directors of the M·A·C AIDS Fund as a highlight of his career, as important as any design award.

“We all have our own idea of what beauty is,” says Mr. Gager. “ I see something positive in everything around me and it’s significant for me to be working for a brand with a social conscience that is making a difference.”

In addition to his responsibilities at M·A·C, he assumed the role of Global Creative Director for Jo Malone London and La Mer in 2010.

Mr. Gager received his Bachelor of Industrial Design and a Master of Science in Package Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

When asked to name his greatest accomplishment, Mr. Gager says, “To work with phenomenal groups of people. I’ve watched them grow and change and I feel there’s a real camaraderie and family and community here.”

Richard Ferretti

Richard Ferretti is Senior Vice President and Global Creative Director for Estée Lauder, a position he has held since October 2011. As a creative visionary with a fresh, dynamic perspective, Richard leads all creative and visual aspects for the Estée Lauder brand globally, including TV, digital and print advertising, packaging, visual merchandising and store design. In this role Richard works closely with Jane Hertzmark Hudis, Global Brand President, Estée Lauder as well as Aerin Lauder, Style and Image Director, Estée Lauder.

Over the course of his career, Richard has been the creative force behind major brands, magazines, retailers, and books in the fashion, beauty and lifestyle arena.

Before joining Estée Lauder, he served as Creative Director of the Coach and Reed Krakoff brands. At Coach, Mr. Ferretti was responsible for directing the global image of the brand’s leather goods and fragrances through advertising, catalogs, digital assets and retail stores in key markets such as, the U.S., U.K., China and Japan, and incorporating the Coach heritage in a visually-compelling way.

At Reed Krakoff, he was responsible for the creative development and visual imagery that launched the brand in 2010.

Prior to that, he served as Creative Director at Gourmet Magazine, where he was credited for bringing a fashion sensibility to the magazine’s design. He also served as Creative Director for Banana Republic (Gap Inc.) and held senior design positions at publications including Metropolitan Home. Mr. Ferretti has also designed 15 luxury lifestyle books. 

‘THE INSPIRED HOME: NESTS OF CREATIVES’ by Kim Ficaro and Todd Nickey, with texts by Mayer Rus and Sarah Sophie Flicker, is published this month by Rizzoli. 

In this new book, Ficaro and Nickey—deeply involved in the creative worlds of New York—have gathered a worldly roster of talented and ingenious (and home-loving) ‘creatives’. 

Kim Facaro

Todd Nickey

Their pals in the field and friends of friends in the book include stylists, artists, architects, editorial stylists, fashion designers, a photographer, as well as creative directors like Gager and Ferretti, featured here.

The interiors shown in THE INSPIRED HOME are highly diverse and diverting. Those ‘at home’ include art directors who plan and style and direct the visuals for catalogs or marketing programs (think IKEA) as well as photo stylists for fashion companies (Aldo shoes) and furniture designers, a potter. Few are big names in decorating, but their style, collections, editing, and eccentricity shines through. If you love the comfort, aesthetic and power of ‘imperfection’ this is your book.

Photography published here, from ‘The Inspired Home’, is used with the express permission of Rizzoli.

1 comment:

sharon marcus said...

Thank you for this excellent article on two talented men. I was so very fortunate to be chosen by Mr. Gager as one of the six 'MAC Me Over' winners in 2011. I will never forget the exhilaration of that.