Kips Bay Post Script: John Eason

closing thoughts on show house participation

Damon Adjusted A As is often the case with show houses, designers who are making their debut in the venue are often ‘gifted’ with a small or challenging space – calling in to play the essence of their creativity to make a lasting impression.
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In years past some designers have knocked it out of the park – I immediately think about my departed friend Randy Ridless’s jewel-box room for Kips Bay in 2000 that garnered him not only the lead coverage in the Times, but eventually lead to his redesign of the Burberry Store on West 57th in conjunction with Barteluce Architects and Associates.
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This year 2 charming and talented friends were given such rooms to decorate in the Villard Houses – John Eason the ‘Grand Staircase’ and Gideon Mendelson a rather oddly proportioned ‘L’ shaped room.  In my opinion they both pulled off a design coup – leaving the visitors to their respective spaces with a long-lasting impression of luxury in keeping with the Roman renaissance architectural tour-de-force Stanford White created.
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And now that the event is over, I thought I’d catch up John and Gideon to learn about the experience, and to get some advise for designers who aspire to participate in Kips Bay – ‘The Academy Awards’ of interior design.
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Today’s Q&A is with John Eason, later in the week I’ll be reporting back with Gideon’s insights…
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CJ:  How did the process of being involved with Kips Bay begin?
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JE: Two years ago I made a concerted effort to raise my public image.  Key components of the plan were to have my work published and to participate in the Kips Bay show house – both of which I’m glad to say I accomplished this year.  While I’d been thinking about doing Kips Bay for years, this year the timing felt right so I made some inquiries and submitted an application by the December 31st, 2013 deadline.
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CJ: How is creating a show house room different from creating a room for a client?
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JE: The most significant difference is that there is not just one client to please, instead there are hypothetical thousands – and it was equally important for me to be true to my own aesthetic voice.
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Having the support of a fantastic contractor, Best & Co., whose goal was for me to build my dream in only a few short weeks, I had the liberty to create a truly spectacular space.
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Without having to think about budget, the generous loans and donations from the highest quality vendors and dealers allowed me to assemble a gorgeous room that would have cost a client well over a million dollars.  Additionally, because my body of work is grounded in the traditional, it was an opportunity for me to move the needle more towards the contemporary. It is liberating to have such an opportunity without needing client approval – and I say that knowing now that all my clients love the space I created!
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Damon Adjusted BCJ: How did you gather all the furnishings and art for the space?
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JE: From the moment that the designer’s names for Kips Bay were published I started receiving emails and phone calls with offers for donations, many from vendors I had never heard of or worked with before so that encouraged me to be daring with approaching vendors.
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In being given the ‘Grand Staircase’ I knew that I wanted the Ingo Maurer chandelier so it was my first stop: I walked into their SoHo gallery, introduced myself and my agenda and despite their cultivated reputation for not loaning pieces I walked away with their commitment based in no small part on their unambiguous agreement that their chandelier would be ideal for the space.
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Next, for the bones of the space, the console, mid-century glass accessories, window treatments and decorative painting, I called on firms with whom I had established relationships.
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The final and most challenging part was to assemble the works of art.  For this I called on established relationships that my husband Damon and I have in the art world to bring to the space works by major artists Barry X Ball, Thomas Struth and Wendell Castle.
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These artists are of the highest caliber and much in demand so it was incredibly helpful and truly amazing to have had friends come from unexpected places to vouch for my talent and help persuade these artists to loan me their work.
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CJ: What were the biggest challenges in the process, and how did you handle them?
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JE: The biggest challenges were having a few major items that I thought were done fall through in the final moments. As a small firm it was an incredible time commitment that took time away from current business and required a very delicate act of keeping clients, the show house schedule and home in balance.  Gym, travel and personal commitments had to take a back seat to 80 hour weeks of total focus on business. Somewhere in the middle of all of this I did fly to Texas for 36 hours to attend the funeral of a loved uncle who had passed away after a long and fruitful life.
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CJ: What sort of return on your investment have you seen so far?
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JE: The publicity far exceeds what any interior designer can get from any single project.  At this point I’ve lost count of how many websites and blogs have posted about the show house, and much to my delight there has been incredible attention brought to my ‘Grand Staircase.’
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I’ve also made many new friends among the other designers in the house – which is a great pleasure as I’ve silently admired the work of more than a few of them over the years.
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The tireless and delightful staff from the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club have also been added to my arsenal of new friends and will always have my undying respect for what they accomplish while remaining calm and respectful while under fire – the work that goes on behind the scene by everyone involved made the experience incredibly enjoyable!
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CJ:  What would you say to a designer who aspires to be included in this event someday?
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JE: Even with the bulk of the furnishings and labor being donated, the time commitment is enormous and the financial outlay required is significant. Make sure that the timing and your finances are right.
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Special thanks to John for sharing his insights – and to Damon Crain for the images of the space…. Be sure to stop back on Thursday when Gideon Mendelson chats with me about this year’s Kips Bay event.
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One thought on “Kips Bay Post Script: John Eason”

  1. I would agree it was a very difficult space to design. There is lots of traffic on the stairs and it is difficult to concentrate on the details. John did a marvelous job. I had not seen John in many years, he was enthusiatic about the space which was quite important.

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