“How could a Cuban refugee who is dyslexic, can’t spell and who has had no formal education achieve what I have: The opportunity to travel the world over, meet fascinating people, visit the White House twice and have a longevity of success? The answer is that interior design has given me that opportunity.”
Vicente Wolf, one of the country’s most acclaimed and beloved designers, gave that humble and highly personal assessment of his career recently at a #HPMKT panel, “Inside the Designer’s Studio” sponsored by International Market Centers and moderated by Krissa Rossbund, senior style editor at Traditional Home magazine.
Born in Cuba, Wolf came to the U.S. in 1961 and said he “tried everything” before landing on a career in interior, art and photographic design. “I tried acting, fashion, merchandising. I got into design by accident, after working in a designer showroom. I had no formal education but trained myself visually by observation.” At the #HPMKT discussion, Wolf shared reflections, insights and stories from his journey, followed by a book signing of his new book, The Four Elements of Design by Vicente Wolf, Rizzoli New York, 2016.
Wolf believes that the classical elements–earth, water, air and fire–form the basic building blocks of great interior design. Air showcases interiors with a lightness of spirit and open in feeling; Earth features interiors grounded in stone, wood and natural textures; Water shows restorative spaces swimming in serene shades of blues and aqua; Fire features enlivening rich colors and drama.
“I love watercolors–blues that become greens and remind you of the ocean–combined with sand and driftwood. I love the mixture of soft blue with a medium tone of brown–that is so elegant. I also love colors that are mercurial and change with the light. That helps a room to stay vibrant so that it is always looking a little different,” Wolf said.
Wolf said that he has been most inspired by the people he has met and the places he has seen as he traveled the world. “It wasn’t until 10 or 15 years ago that I realized that not everyone sees things like I do. I see an environment in three-dimension.”
Wolf said he recently took his third trip to Egypt. “I love to go up the Nile and be inspired by things centuries old,” he said. The most inspiring place? “The Himalayas. There, you are close to God and spiritually uplifted.” Day to day, “it is the ocean that moves me emotionally.”
Of design he said, “It’s a tough field. People always think we have it so easy, but it is complex. We don’t cure cancer, but we have the power to alter your sense of well-being in the morning.”
One of the most celebrated interior designers today, Vicente Wolf’s work is featured in all the top shelter magazines and blogs, is consistently named to the AD100 and chosen by House Beautiful magazine as one of the ten most influential designers in the United States.
All photos courtesy of Rizzoli and Vicente Wolf
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Leslie Hendrix Wood Interiors
Owner, the Hadley Court blog
We invite you to please click the links below to follow Hadley Court on our other social channels ~