Five Questions: David Webster

David Webster discusses the journey from graphic designer to his current post at the helm of one of the Boston Design Center’s cornerstone showrooms.

Text by Kyle Hoepner Photography by Dan Cutrona

JA15 David Webster

1. The Webster & Company showroom has been a mainstay for New England’s designers since 1991. What brought you into the interiors trade?

Very simply…the desktop computer. I had a graphic design studio in Boston for twenty-three years, mostly designing, buying art for, and assembling typeset mechanicals for hundreds of pages of elementary and high school textbooks. It was very hands-on in those days. But computer-generated design was not where I wanted to be, so I decided it was time to try a different creative path. A good friend of mine, Ronald Grimaldi, owned Rose Cumming, a fabric company in New York. Ronald convinced me that I should open a showroom at the Boston Design Center. I was working with all the same design rules as before—playing with shapes in space—but I loved the transition into three dimensions.

2. How would you define the “design space” you have staked out in the market?

We carry very high-end, high-quality merchandise running the gamut from opulent traditional products to the best contemporary furniture, lighting, art, and sculpture. Our showroom is set up with individual rooms and galleries so that designers and their clients can get a true feel for how the pieces we show might translate into the space they are designing—and especially to give them a sense of scale, which is the most important component in the process.

3. How do you see New England design fitting into the wider world of design?

Boston has truly become an international city in every way. I am very excited about the immense building boom going on here, especially in the South End, South Boston, Seaport, and Downtown Crossing neighborhoods. This growth also brings people from many cultures all over the world, with all the diversity of their design needs. I feel that we are so much better equipped now to answer all those needs because of our constant curiosity for expanding our design knowledge. New England’s designers are a well-traveled and savvy lot, and are hungry for fresh products and new ideas.

4. What are the most exciting new product lines you’ve picked up recently?

The showroom business is always fluid, what with lines coming and going and always trying for the perfect balance of product—European, American, classic, contemporary, furniture, lighting, fabrics, accessories—while also trying to maintain varied price points in all of these categories. That said, we have just taken on an amazing textured grasspaper and vinyl wallcovering line, called Innovations, that is a knockout. Also a very opulent fabric and trim line called Décor de Paris, and JAB Anstoetz, another fabric line. Coming this fall will be an amazing decorative wallcovering line, sold by the panel, that is the most beautiful, unusual thing of its kind that I have seen in a long time.

5. Where do you see our region’s design world heading?

Oh, how I wish I could predict that! We need always to keep our eye on the future while looking lovingly at the past: a great mantra for all things in life—and especially design.

David Webster, Webster & Company, Boston, (617) 261-9660, webstercompany.com

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