London-born interior designer Linda O’Keeffe has spread her knowledge of design around the world, through positions as a designer, creative director, magazine editor, and journalist. The upstate New York resident is a voice many turn to in the design industry, as her years of experience in many facets of the field. After publishing books such as her celebration of footwear, “Shoes,” in 1996, and follow-ups “Stripes” and “Brilliant” from The Monacelli Press. As a former creative director of now-defunct Metropolitan Magazine, O’Keeffe has become a design expert to the highest degree, and will share her vision on outdoor decorating in her newest book, “Inside, Outside: A Sourcebook of Inspired Garden Rooms,” releasing this November. Check out a preview of “Inside, Outside” below, and meet the author in her #MakerMonday conversation!
Andrew Joseph: What’s your wakeup ritual?
Linda O’Keeffe: I have a first thing in the morning practice – meditation followed by yoga. It grounds me before I fly off into my day.
Andrew: Favorite bad movie?
Linda: Boom, a 1960s drama with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor who is drowning in Bulgari in every scene. Written by Tennessee Williams, it’s a high form of junk with amazing sets and Noel Coward walking around saying “I have complete domain”. I tend to remember random lines from good and bad movies. For example, “Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person!” (from No Way To Treat A Lady). “Snap out of it!” (from Moonstruck). “You shouldn’t wear heels when you do chin-ups.” (from Boys In The Band). They have a habit of popping into my head at (in)appropriate moments.
Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Linda: It’s SO hard to do it in three. I profile designers and write about the interiors, architecture, art, landscapes and products they create, so I’m a professional celebrator. I constantly tout the life enhancing aspects of all the beautiful, well conceived stuff we surround ourselves with. If I confine it to three – celebratory, insightful (I hope!) and heartfelt.
Complete with photographs taken by O’Keeffe, “Inside, Outside” features displays of natural beauty combined with artful design decisions.
Andrew: Favorite piece of clothing you own?
Linda: A chiffon and coarse wool Comme des Garçons skirt I paid a fortune for thirty years ago. A mysteriously made piece of architecture, it still fits me like a glove and whenever I wear it, it’s as if all is right with the world.
Andrew: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Linda: “You’re perfect just the way you are; everyone is perfect just the way they are.”
Andrew: A book that everyone should read?
Linda: I’m taking your question literally because this book is perfect for children and adults.The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Andrew: How do you define beauty?
Linda: Nature defines it for me. The natural cycle of life in my garden, where winter’s decay is reborn as innocence every spring is so awesome. I look to animals for their spontaneity and unaffected charm. The way a cat suddenly springs to attention from the deepest state of relaxation never fails to thrill me.
Andrew: Favorite place to view art?
Linda: In my living room.
Two rustic garden chairs from Linda’s upcoming book.
Andrew: What’s your favorite board game?
Linda: Chess, even though I play SO badly.
Andrew: Least favorite color?
Linda: I’m not drawn to purple when it’s overused in an interior or an outfit, but I’ll swoon if you show me a magnolia tree with purple, fist sized blooms. I don’t rank any individual colors negatively but certain color combinations can be deadly.
Andrew: You are stuck on an island, you can pick one food to eat forever without getting tired of it, what would you eat?
Linda: Potatoes. I’m Irish, after all.
Andrew: A dessert you don’t like?
Linda: No such thing.
Andrew: A skill you’re working on mastering?
Linda: Acceptance, compassion, kindness, non-competitiveness, generosity of spirit, lightness of being, positivity, authenticity……it’s an endless list.
Andrew: Favorite scent?
Andrew: If you could switch lives with someone for a day who would it be?
Linda: Philippe Petit on the day in 1974 when he walked across a wire he’d strung between the World Trade Towers. That’s my definition of getting high.
Andrew: What’s one thing that is always in your refrigerator?
Linda: Red lipstick.
About Linda O’Keeffe | For many decades, Linda O’Keeffe (@linda.n.okeeffe) has documented and commented on the world of interior design and architecture as the former creative director of Metropolitan Home magazine and currently as the author of several books. In May, Timber Press will publish Inside Outside, her exploration of the symbiosis between interior design and landscaping.
She is also currently writing about renowed designer Kate Hume’s interiors for a monograph Rizzoli will publish next year. Asked about design in our region, Linda responds, “As a former Manhattanite who now lives in High Falls, I’ve watched our upstate design, art and artisan community grow strong. It’s wonderful to see local talent celebrated and recognized for its unique, richly layered, confident voice.”
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