Monday, July 31, 2017

Designer I Love: Barbara Barry — What’s New

Los Angeles designer Barbara Barry has been at the top of design for three decades—designing influential interiors, creating collections for Baker Furniture and Boyd and McGuire, as well as fabrics, and almost too many great labels and ideas to mention. Now she’s working closely with Baker Furniture to launch new furniture with sleek modern lines, new silhouettes.

“As a designer, I need the infinite well of the inventive thinker. And I need the ability to make the inventive real to my clients. The problem-solving, the thinking, the collaboration, and the editing and discovery, are what leads to successful commercial products.” — Barbara Barry

Barbara Barry is a polymath. As she goes from one design project and assignment and achievement to another, from one airport or country to the next, her inspiration and ideas and drawings keep springing up.

In three fast decades, Barry has limned interiors, furniture, lighting, linens, tabletop decor, carpets, fabric for office and home, and splendid new tableware. She has designed restaurants in San Francisco, London and Los Angeles.

When, you might ask, is she at home in Ojai or Los Angeles?

“Time at home is sweet and meaningful because my work is intense and demanding and takes me all over the world,” said Barry. “When I do finally have a Saturday morning at home, after a business trip to New York or Hawaii or Chicago, I’m ecstatic.”

Barry dances to the muted music of white and beige. For her, the infinite range of whites, ivory and palest beige is pure beauty--soothing, timeless, classic, and always tasty and refreshing. She also loves a wide range of green colors but uses them sparingly.

Now with her new collections for Baker Furniture, Barry takes a sleek, modern and powerful new statement.

Join me this week to view Barbara Barry’s newest collections, and to view her new furniture. You are sure to be inspired.

Above, Barbara Barry’s new collection for Baker Furniture.

“I am motivated by the natural world--by light falling on a subject, by the forms that exist in nature, and by perfect proportion. I’m also motivated by lightness, brightness. I love the light of day. I watch it spill across a room and I’m stimulated. And every day is pure potential.” — Barbara Barry

Los Angeles-based Barbara Barry notes that all of her collections, in crystal or silk or fine woods have a decidedly feminine sensibility.

“I like softer lines, order, gentle not jarring colors, and subtle silhouettes,” noted Barry. To launch her newest portfolios of design, Barry is applying her prodigious sense of clarity of form, balance, proportion, naturalism and elegance.

To each she brings her innate sense of understatement, refinement, polish and freshness. Now her newest ambitious design project is a series of new collections for Baker Furniture.

Baker Furniture’s Russell Towner with Barbara Barry at High Point.

“We are especially excited to partner with Barbara Barry, who has been a part of Baker’s history and helped shape our identity for over twenty years. Barbara has taken a decidedly modern approach, while maintaining the relaxed sophistication that is her signature. The range is a curated mix of open-grained wood finishes, touches of bronze, textural fabrics and polished lighting which we at Baker feel taps into a global movement where relaxed and formal, couture and street fashion are mixed.” — Russell Towner, president of Baker

Barbara Barry’s collection for Baker Furniture has more relaxed wood finishes that are neither precious nor formal, reflecting the influences of her own life as well as her clients. There is an emphasis on utility, modern upholstery and easy-to-live with textural fabrics. The upholstery is covered in chenille, bouclé, velvet and crisp linen, which is tonal and textural and soft to the touch. The color palette is soft and easy with colors inspired by nature: Cinder, Pink Salt, Bleached Sand and Awash reflecting her watercolor washes, all intended to serve as a quiet backdrop for living. 

Designers and Architects Admired by Barbara

“John Dickinson was a favorite furniture designer. I loved his plaster tables and his subdued color palette. I also love the work of Jean-Michel Frank for its great lines, modern elegance and beautiful materials. “I love all the Edward Lutyens tomes that document Lutyens’ country houses, such as Munstead Wood, as well as the houses he designed in France. Photographs originally published in “Country Life” show interiors with finesse, character, and superb interior architecture. I studied the floor plans of his work and love the central halls, his civic vision, the proportions of his rooms.

And I admire architects like John Pawson, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier and Tadao Ando who prefer no decoration or lamination but achieve complete integration of form, space and light. I admire Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “laboratory for living” at Kundmanngasse in Vienna, built in 1928. For Wittgenstein, very millimeter was important.”

Barbara Barry’s Collections of Crystal for Swarovski

Barbara Barry on Kitchen Design

Barbara Barry believes that kitchens should be furnished like a room for living—not a machine for cooking.

“I like to furnish a kitchen with a good, solid table and some very comfortable chairs, along with banks of cabinets and drawers,” said Barry. “I like the idea of an étagere for holding books, an old bookcase to secure cookbooks, photography and collections, and perhaps old cabinets. I love to have piles of books and magazines. I like to have space for an iPad or a newspaper, a notebook, painting supplies”

She likes to carve out extra counter space or position a table so that she can mount tablescapes of platters, and bowls and trays of seasonal fruit and vegetables, along with candlesticks and perhaps a large vase holding branches or stalks of flowers from the garden. Barry also likes to see newly collected bottles of wine or favorite ingredients for a special occasional cocktail.

“In my kitchen I have a lamp for more intimate and pleasing lighting, rather than just an overhead light,” said Barry. “An overhead light can be harsh and glary but perhaps on a dimmer it can work. You set the lamp where you need it, for reading, cooking, dining. It brings the room down to a more human scale.”

Musical Inspiration

“Musica Latina is my favorite music next to Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven and Verdi. Musica Latina is happy music and never fails to put a smile on my face and lift my mood, and it makes me want to dance! Every Saturday I listen to Alma da Barrio on the Los Angeles radio station, KXLU, 88.9FM. It’s a college station. It’s authentic, soulful and very uplifting.”


Images courtesy Barbara Barry, published on THE STYLE SALONISTE with express permission.

‘Barbara Barry Around Beauty’ published by Rizzoli. 

For More Information: 

Barbara Barry
9526 Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone: 310-276-9977


columnist said...

Admire her work, and enjoyed meeting her here in Bangkok when she opened her showroom about ten years ago.

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Dear Columnist...

I love that you were one of my very first readers...almost 9 years happy.

Yes, Barbara is indeed charming and bright and very insightful about the design process. She is always a pleasure to interview I must say. I'm so glad you liked this exclusive post--very best--DIANE

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Received a lovely note from the great San Francisco designer--James Marzo

Kudos! Inspirational design!
James Marzo

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

I received a charming note from Barbara Barry to thank me for this blog post.

Barbara is moving to Ojai and I'm delighted to hear from her in the middle of this big change in her life.

Dear Diane,

Long time!
Thank you for the lovely write up.
I am in the middle of a move so hope to write more later.
I trust that all is well with you.
Sending warm regards,

Barbara Barry
Barbara Barry Incorporated
9526 Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA. 90035

Colorninterior said...

I's such a nice post. Good to hear about Barbara. Collection of furniture is just marvelous. Thanks for sharing!