Award-winning Atlanta-based designer Stan Topol is a fixture at AmericasMart Altlanta, whether he’s scouring Market for new finds or creating a Market Vignette.
Topol once again put his timeless style on display for us in the vignette installation in the Building 1 Lobby, so we asked him to reflect on the foundations of his creative impulse and how he builds a space from scratch.
AmericasMart: Your mantra is “Timeless Design.” How do you begin to create “Timeless Design” in an empty room? Is it one particular item that begins to set things in motion?
Stan Topol: When I see an empty room, I really don't think about “timeless” or any other design feature. I look at my client and see how they will use this room that we create. It's more about them, and how I can lead them into a comfortable situation that they are proud of today and will be for the next decade or longer.
AM: There are so many different ways to approach color, as many people seek out unique accents or bold feature walls. Are there certain timeless colors that you feel work in nearly every setting?
ST: My approach to color is quite simple. I look at my client, check their wardrobe and build our color palette from that. In fact, one day I will tell you a story about Joseph Braswell (the former head of Parsons Interior Design) and his gracious explanation of a Dining Room he did for a lady once who lived on Park Avenue.
AM: Is there a classic structure to building around the key furniture piece in a room? How nontraditional should one go? Can you abandon the settee or bedroom chair for something else? Or even swap the coffee table in a larger living room for, say, several end tables?
ST: A great furniture plan or layout should be able to be translated into either a traditional furnishing plan, a contemporary one or a transitional one. When I taught school, I insisted that a plan has to allow a lady to walk through her room without bumping a chair or a table. How you treat a room is really up to a decorator and their client... That's why we personally hand draw each person’s room. A plan doesn't determine the style or the trends that may be current. Remember: Current trends are just that.
AM: When it comes to acquiring art for a client’s space, does their taste dictate the selection, or do you let your vision of the room guide you?
ST: ART. Now we are into my world. I am quite serious about this subject. Our background is art history, and I am proud of that. Knowing the various periods of fine art from the earliest days to the 20th century is vital as one directs or suggests a direction to their client. In fact, one of my favorite moments was with a client in New York City looking for fine art. He saw me wandering away from the presentation and found me almost shaking from delight when I saw a certain painting. He told the dealer he would take that piece before I even rejoined the group. A Franz Kline painting can still do this to me…as can a few others.
Painting by Jules Olitski
AM: When you’ve completed a room, what about it usually expresses timelessness to you?
ST: Regarding the term “timeless”: Marvelous interiors can and do last a lifetime. The trendy moments we see come and go, but quality, comfort, and simple styles never go out of style because having style means you don't have to be "stylish."
AM: Of course, we always like to have our experts impart a bit of their wisdom to the new shoppers at AmericasMart. What key thought should they contemplate as they begin their experience here at the Market?
ST: AmericasMart offers to me and every other decorator or designer a world of choices. You could fly to NYC and go through three or four buildings to find everything that they have in Atlanta in one location. Come on... Is that really a choice, or do you just want to have dinner at Cipriani’s?
Take a moment during as you enter or exit Market this week to appreciate Stan Topol’s timeless design on display in the Building 1 Lobby. And if you run into him during Market before we do, make sure you ask about that Joseph Braswell story. And while you’re at it, extend an invitation to Cipriani for a drink and discussion of the latest Whitney exhibit during a future visit to New York. Just for kicks.
As a teenager, the Mississippi-born Topol took flight to New York where he became assistant to legendary interior decorator Billy Baldwin. After returning to Atlanta to open his eponymous firm, Topol went on to Chair the Interior Design program at the Art Institute of Atlanta as well. His client list stacks as high as the number of design magazines that have featured his work and includes the Lutgert Companies in Naples, FL, the St. Regis Hotel, and a longstanding relationship with Atlanta’s most famous European export, Sir Elton John.
Stan Topol and Associates is based in Atlanta, GA. For more information visit www.StanTopol.com or call (404) 885-9889.