Not another dinner party.
December 1997 / January 1998 Design Times
We were in the throes of shooting this year’s entertaining feature, when publisher Catherine Arnston reminded me we had a dinner date with a designer she had met during her travels. It was the last thing I wanted to do.
From the photo shoots alone, I had already seen so many gorgeous parties-in-waiting. I was more than jaded. I was sick of radiant chandeliers, priceless silver, overflowing champagne flutes, spotless white linens, and picture-perfect hors d’oeuvres with not a chive out of place. I was partied out.
Catherine had just returned from a two-day trip across the country for a design conference, but I was the one that was beat. “Do you think this is really essential?” I asked. What is shirker I was. I would have rather been home hearing about my girlfriend’s little girl’s day at kindergarten. “Well, where is this party?”
The suburbs. I confess that I am a bigot about designers in the suburbs. Hot designers are cool city people.
Catharine narrowed her face as she does whenever I try to wriggle out of one of our commitments. I tried to stare her back. No use. I had to go.
But there was so much going on at the office: missing artwork, articles coming in late, expensive film lost by UPS. We had to be insane to leave all this for a party in the ‘burbs’
“Well, there’s no turning back to the office now,” I thought as we pulled our cars into Robin and Warren Pelissier’s driveway. Third-generation upholsterer Kevin McLaughlin had already parked his Land Rover. At least I would have someone to talk to. And there was debonair David Webster from the Boston Design Center walking to the front door. Things were looking up.
Catherine and I were greeted by our hosts, who had three young boys. I’m the oldest of three boys myself. Right away, we were simpatico. Then one son butted my shins with his head. Not so simpatico. Out came the nanny –a relief, simpatico again.
I learned Robin had done a lot of work in Manhattan. She’s a healthy, young, seashore type with a pleasing shake of city sophisticate. “So let’s cool it with the Dullsville suburban stuff,” I told myself.
Mmmm, a little Chardonnay and a house tour. I didn’t expect Robin to be quite so radiant and engaging, her house so unfussy and full of interesting art. But shouldn’t I be calling the office?
We inspected the 14 rooms of Robin and Warren’s Greek Revival home. Robin had chosen Nina Campbell’s subtle, leopard-on-leopard print wallpaper for the hallway leading up to the stairs. Her stair runner was also leopard print with magenta piping running along the edges. I started to purr. Eventually, we made our way to the dining room’s toffee walls and peach sorbet drapes.
There was no pretension here; just a little industry get-together where we talked shop, but in a sociable way. David mentioned his showroom was picking up William Switzer’s furniture line from Vancouver. He might even expand through his ceiling to the second floor of the Design Center next to our office.
As we digested our stuffed shrimp, everyone started to imagine possible angles for drop-dead photos of Robin’s home: across the table; through the door to the living room; from the leopard stairs. We all agreed that we loved how Robin set the dining room table at such a dramatic diagonal. “To our hostess!” we exclaimed.
I’m glad I convinced Catharine to come.
Louis Postel, Editor-in-Chief