GUEST EDIT: RICHARD STILIN

GUEST EDIT: RICHARD STILIN

The interior designer reveals his favorite works on Platform and his favorite spaces in New York.

Portrait by Stephen Johnson

Platform

What's one of your most memorable experiences with art?

Robert

I have no formal education or training in art other than one art history course in college. I've learned everything I know over the years thanks to a lot of really smart art people who were kind and generous enough to take time with me and teach me so much. And I listened!

What stands out is that when I started collecting and using art in my work almost 30 years ago, the art world was not kind to people like me – interior designers. They were generally snobby and dismissive with an attitude that was more or less, "Who are you and what do you want? And by the way, we don’t match paintings to décor." No shit! Who would!

One of the most memorable and gratifying experiences was maybe ten years ago, after years of going to auction previews and learning. I walked into one of the big rooms with all the best stuff at Sotheby’s around and I knew every artist. I no longer had to look at the tags. It’s not such a big thing in and of itself, but coming from no art education and an art world that was really unfriendly for years, it was my ah-ha moment. I knew I had arrived. And it was a little 'fuck you' to all those art people who gave me so much attitude and made me feel so insecure. I always had the best taste, but needed the knowledge and the experience. It made me feel great!

Platform

What kind of art are you attracted to or collect for yourself?

Robert

I am a very visceral collector. The art needs to speak to me, move me. I usually know right away. Sometimes, it’s the obvious things that everyone thinks are great. More often it’s more unusual, more compelling, more unexpected. I am definitely attracted to beauty. But there is more to beauty than meets the eye. Oftentimes, there is something hidden or deeper beneath, and that tends to be darker or more controversial, even ugly. I like things like that.

Platform

Tell us about how you like to incorporate art into the interiors you design.

Robert

I have already been quoted saying, “I cannot imagine living in a space without art.” I think that pretty much sums it up.

Platform

Do you have a favorite designed space in New York?

Robert

The Grill at the Seagram’s building and the gallery at the (new) Whitney Museum that overlooks the Hudson River with that huge window.

Platform

What's something happening in interiors that really excites you?

Robert

My practice excites me. I don’t pay that much attention to trends. I just go for what I like and what interests me. But, of course, I am a seeker and always looking. I am also a risk-taker and always like to be taking some chances and pushing forward to new frontiers. But in terms of my practice, I just feel really grateful and lucky to have an incredible clientele that believes in me and trusts me and gives me these extraordinary opportunities to create amazing, real spaces for them to live their lives in. That’s exciting and it’s fun. I love my job. It really never feels like work.

Platform

Lightning Round: Best place to discover new talent?

Robert

Everywhere. Fairs. Galleries. Networking. Just be open and take chances. If someone you trust says somethings is cool and you have to see it and you don’t know anything about it, go see it!

Platform

Favorite hidden gem restaurant?

Robert

I am a creature of habit and I like what I like. My favorite restaurants are Sant Ambroeus Soho and Il Cantinori in the Village. They and their staffs are gems to me. 

Platform

Website you visit the most?

Robert

I only go to websites when I am looking for something specific, which is often. But I don't just go to any for the fun of it.

Platform

Thing you regularly turn to for inspiration?

Robert

My books on design, architecture, art, etc. I have thousands.