Editor’s Miscellany: Alexa Hampton in Stamford

By Kyle Hoepner

Alexa Hampton hardly needs an introduction to lovers of interior design, so I won’t attempt one here. The well-known decorator, who has brought a new generation of both continuity and freshness to her father’s firm, Mark Hampton (“People thought Mark was resolutely English—even more than he really was,” she says. “But I’m definitely a little more Franco-Italo-American.”) will be at the Wakefield Design Center in Stamford, Connecticut, next Thursday to sign copies of her book, Decorating in Detail.

Just out this past November, the volume is in a sense a follow-up to her earlier The Language of Interior Design. But where The Language… dealt explicitly with big topics—contrast, proportion, color, balance—Decorating in Detail deals with, well, detail.

Not that Hampton’s details aren’t intimately tied in with the underlying structure of her spaces; a careful study of this Florida sunroom will quickly cure you of any illusions on that score. Nonetheless, the individuality that details convey is clearly near and dear to her heart.

Photos by Steve Freihon, courtesy of Random House

She was kind enough to chat with me earlier this week about some of the thinking that underlies the book. “Details are born of practical concerns,” she observed. “Like a tie on man’s suit, even if it’s just an ornament now, earlier it held your collar. And the practical side is what makes things interesting, makes them memorable.”

One of my favorite aspects of Decorating in Detail is an extensive section at the end setting out down-to-earth items of technical information: where to hang curtain rods, how to decide the best size for an area rug, how high chair rails should be, how best to hang art and sconces. It’s there not so much to promote do-it-yourselfery—“No, no, no!” Hampton says—but to give a feel for what kinds of decisions actually go into creating the apparently perfect interiors that look so effortless after the fact.

“I’m resolute in my desire to embrace the fact that design is a service business, it’s all about the clients’ preferences,” Hampton told me on the phone. “Abstract edicts feel arbitrary. Details make a room personal, allow the person I’m working for to own it.”

What does 2014 have in store for Alexa Hampton? “I have new furniture for Hickory Chair coming out at both markets this year, and new lighting for Visual Comfort. And I’m having a lot of fun on Pinterest. It is sooooo addictive…a new and wonderful way to have your free time sucked away! Check out my boards; I love sharing the things that inspire me.”

Hear more, directly from the source, at next week’s book signing:

Thursday, March 6, 2014
5:30 p.m.
Wakefield Design Center, Stamford, Conn.
RSVP to (203) 966-8203 or [email protected]

Books will be available for purchase at the event, or you can preorder through Elm Street Books at (203) 966-4545.

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