Douglas Friedman Gives Voice for Elle DÃ©cor
Every space speaks the voice of the person who inhabits it, and no one knows that better than Douglas Friedman. Elle Décor invited Douglas to photograph two stories for their October issue, the cover story featuring Veronica Beard, and a feature of Jeffrey Kalinsky. It turns out that Veronica Beard and Douglas actually go way back; Douglas is familiar with family of Beard’s, and because of those relationships he took this project personally. “I felt like the pressure was really on,” says Douglas. “It almost rang more important because these people are like family. If it’s not incredible in the end it feels like you let people close to you down. It resonates stronger.” Douglas took the pressure, and a weekend at the house in Locust Valley, Long Island, and shaped those forces to get it right.
At first glance (and second, and third…) the most obvious element of Beard’s interior design of her home is the jubilee of prints and colors that dominate every corner of her home. It’s incredibly busy and common wisdom would say that all these prints clash against one another but there’s harmony hidden within them if you just lean into it. All those prints can get even louder when put into a single frame of a two-dimensional photograph but, as Douglas points out, it’s not something that should be fought against. They’re there to solicit a response so Douglas let them do just that. “You don’t try to make it balance, you make it as loud as possible,” he says. “You don’t shy away from it. And listen, it doesn’t always work when you do that in other spaces, but Veronica curated an insane mix of design that is magical and brave.” These prints are a reflection of who Beard is and Douglas shows her off the best way he knows how: he underscores the brave choices rather than muting them for a more conventional taste.
On the other side of the spectrum is Jeffrey Kalinsky, Vice President of Nordstrom and founder of the clothing boutique Jeffrey. Douglas met up with the retail master at his West Village townhouse and found a much more stark experience. “If anything this presents a whole other set of challenges,” Douglas explains. “When you’re working in a space that so architecturally pure and monastic and simple, you have to pay much more attention to every single object and every single line because nothing is lost. One of the hardest things to do in design is to show restraint and to be able to stop and pull back and edit out, and let the space breathe and that’s what Jeffrey is doing. His ability to edit is brilliant.” Douglas stepped back and let the spaces speak to him, and show their messages in the imagery. For each of these stories in Elle Décor, it was about Douglas getting out the way of what the space was telling him so we could hear the same thing he did.