Interview with Geoffrey Bradfield : design elements


Interview with Geoffrey Bradfield

categories Designer, Interviews    

Design icon and South African born Geoffrey Bradfield specializes in creating opulent, elegant and serene interiors. His signature style is the use of Contemporary Art. “Functional Opulence” is the key to his designs, which draw inspiration from the Orient, African Primitivism, and Art Deco. His work incorporates fine art and antiques with modern materials and high tech accessories, attaching the same sculptural value to utility objects as to important pieces of art. Geoffrey Bradfield’s projects list is impressive. Among this roster of projects is the major design overhaul of the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney estate in Old Westbury, Long Island and the restoration of the late King Hussein’s mansion in Maryland. The New York-based designer has received several times the coveted recognition by Architectural Digest in their “AD 100″ as one of the top designers in the world. Before the interview I read that Geoffrey Bradfield is funny, sophisticated and down to Earth. I agree with this. Enjoy the conversation. I sure did!

image credit: Geoffrey Bradfield Inc, photographer: Peter Rymwid

How would you describe your own style?

If in two words: “Functional opulence.”  Having said that, I am a Modernist and the use of Contemporary Art is a significant ingredient in my signature style.

When you were a child and grew up on a South African farm, did you want to become a designer?

I never doubted my choice of career.  I never experienced a Saul of Tarsus conversion on the way to Damascus.  I always knew intuitively what I wanted to do.

How did you get your first assignment?

My first major assignment was in Johannesburg.  I did the apartment of the Impresario, Pieter Toerien. He was my first celebrity client – I was 23 years old and it garnered me a lot of attention. Of course, everything is relative and I was swimming in a very small pond.

Is there a designer that has influenced you?

Past would be Le Corbousier, whom I consider to be the most important influence on my early career.  Latterly, I have been very inspired by the world of artists.  Great artists have always influenced and inspired my work.  I admire their ability to look at the world from fresh and daring perspectives.

image credit: Geoffrey Bradfield Inc, photographer: H. Durston Saylor

What do you enjoy most in your work?

I love the creative process.  The lot of an artist can be rather fleeting at times.  It’s not a bad fate, as long as you are what you have created.  If one’s work has resonance, it will outlive us.

When I look at your interiors I see opulent spaces but I also feel a sense of serenity. How do you achieve this?

I seek serenity in all my interiors. In addition to a disciplined and edited color palette, I think that art brings a lot of that signature to it. I mean we’re not talking great Picassos that are representing the Spanish wars, but art really can introduce a serene presence.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

That I’m still sane!

What inspires your designs?

To some extent, the Art Moderne period of the 1940s. But, it does go far beyond that. I am 90% visual.  My visual curiosity and photographic recall affords me an endless inventory of rich ideas to draw on.  I am also very intrigued with the advent of technology.

What is your idea what a beautiful home should feel like?

There are many things every home must have, but in the end, I think we all agree the basic requirement is probably comfort.  I identify with Billy Baldwin’s quote in the New York Times toward the end of his life:  “lately I have been thinking how comfort is perhaps the ultimate luxury.”  I believe this says it all.

image credit: Geoffrey Bradfield Inc, photographer: H. Durston Saylor

Favorite books?

Essence of Style by Joan de Jean
The Principles of Aesthetics by Francesco Borromini
Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski

What does success mean to you?

Success is so relative. Any designer who is passionate about what he does and has a strong point of view is mindful of creating a legacy.  But when one has been fortunate enough to be recognized for one’s work, you like to feel not only that you are leaving a footprint, but also that you are giving back.

What’s your advice to upcoming designers?

You have to be able to sell yourself and your talent. It’s amazing how important a personality is.  I also value honesty and frankness in an interview.  I never intentionally hire down… I like to be challenged by my team.

My signature Design Element question – what are the most important design elements?

Scale, balance, innovation, joy.


39 Kommentare zu “Interview with Geoffrey Bradfield”

  1. Ingrid am 26.01.2011 um 09:02 Uhr 

    So inspiring to read the interviews you write, very nice.

    Have a great day,

    Greetings from Norway, Ingrid

  2. Style Maniac am 26.01.2011 um 14:34 Uhr 

    Your interview series is so great, Maria. Always love the answer to your signature question. Especially love Geoffrey’s answer: “joy” … couldn’t agree more. (Those orange lacquer walls sure make me happy … and I remember well the magazine feature of those gray rooms with the incredible lucite furniture. Lust!)

  3. Mia am 26.01.2011 um 14:40 Uhr 

    Very stylish! Happy wednesday :)

  4. Carol am 26.01.2011 um 14:51 Uhr 

    His designs are stunning! I enjoyed the interview!

  5. Olya Nikol am 26.01.2011 um 16:03 Uhr 

    Very talented! I’m in love with the second image – it seems so cosy though sophisticated, ~ xoxo

  6. Stacey am 26.01.2011 um 16:27 Uhr 

    I love him! That orange room is delicious:-). Great interview too!

  7. La Boheme am 26.01.2011 um 16:35 Uhr 

    You are doing great job with your interviews! Very inspiring to read about Geoffrey’s approach to design. xoxo

  8. snowwhite am 26.01.2011 um 16:50 Uhr 

    His answer to your question “What does success mean to you? ” is incredibly impressive!

    What a luxury world it is !!

    Greeting from Japan, snowwhite

  9. Tereza am 26.01.2011 um 17:18 Uhr 

    Love your interview series.
    Bradfield style is so chic and luxurious.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. quintessence am 26.01.2011 um 17:28 Uhr 

    Functional opulence – love it!! What a talent!

  11. mary jo matsumoto am 26.01.2011 um 17:41 Uhr 

    I love that he added joy to his list of signature design elements. It really does shine through and the lucite furniture with gray and white is so my aesthetic–everything thought I was crazy for doing this in my house, but I love airy and elegant feeling it creates yet still feels comfy. My favorite interview so far!

    xo Mary Jo

  12. Camila F. am 26.01.2011 um 17:45 Uhr 

    WOW, his work is amazing! That bedroom is to die for!

  13. George am 26.01.2011 um 17:45 Uhr 

    I enjoyed this interview (and all your interviews). I really like these interiors –they’re beautiful.

  14. maureen lynne am 26.01.2011 um 18:05 Uhr 

    elegant atmosphere….
    Geoffrey is a master at capturing
    that certain ambiance…

  15. maureen lynne am 26.01.2011 um 18:16 Uhr 

    elegant atmosphere…
    Jeffrey is a master at creating that certain ambiance….

  16. Kate am 26.01.2011 um 18:34 Uhr 

    Great interview! I love the art on the walls!

  17. Alcira Molina-Ali am 26.01.2011 um 19:16 Uhr 

    Oh, I love this gentleman’s work — it’s always fearless, decadent and daring.
    Cheers, Alcira

  18. melissa lee am 26.01.2011 um 21:15 Uhr 



  19. Rhiannon am 26.01.2011 um 22:20 Uhr 

    What a fabulous interview; that carpet with the larger than life damask pattern is so perfect. It’s amazing!

  20. Kathy@myinteriorlife am 26.01.2011 um 23:11 Uhr 

    Loved hearing more about him and his design process. Thanks for sharing this great interview!

  21. michelle chafin am 27.01.2011 um 04:05 Uhr 

    I love the great use of wall space in the first photo. Great designs created excellent:) also congratulations on your Margaret River giveaway you will love the wine.

  22. design traveller am 27.01.2011 um 10:10 Uhr 

    hi Maria,

    One more interesting interview…
    Scale and balance… very good point. Great choice of books, I have heard about “Home: A Short History of an Idea” so many times… I have to read it finally.

    have a nice day :)

  23. Carolina M. am 27.01.2011 um 15:11 Uhr 

    I didn’t know his work but I am so glad I do know.. He is so smart and inspirational!

  24. ahhhlala am 27.01.2011 um 16:00 Uhr 

    Your interviews are so great!!!

  25. Luciane at am 27.01.2011 um 19:30 Uhr 


    I always enjoy your interviews and I like this one in a special way. I’m not sure why, but it feels even more natural and I like that!

    I’m so glad to have your comments back on my blog! Thank you for that, my friend!


    Luciane at

  26. JGregg am 27.01.2011 um 20:23 Uhr 

    maria — thanks for the visit at FatScribe. your blog has such great design, and i really enjoy your interview posts as well! i’ll be visiting often! – Jg.

  27. Eddie Ross am 28.01.2011 um 01:44 Uhr 

    Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing.
    Don’t forget to stop by my blog before tomorrow as we will announce the winner of the $100 Lowe’s gift card!

  28. Sharon am 28.01.2011 um 07:56 Uhr 

    The rug looks amazing sort of 3D-ish. Thanks for the visit at LiveYourStyle! I look forward to reading your blog, it looks absolutely lovely.

  29. Spots and Stripes am 28.01.2011 um 11:36 Uhr 

    The lucite furniture in the lounge is very glamorous.

  30. Rowaida Flayhan am 28.01.2011 um 14:08 Uhr 

    Hi Maria, love your blog so inspiring do u have a twitter account to follow you?

  31. Tina am 28.01.2011 um 14:34 Uhr 

    Totally my kind of guy!
    Thaqnks for sharing this interesting interwiev. Feel there´s a lot to learn from the great and successful ones!
    Happy weekend!

  32. maureen lynne am 29.01.2011 um 15:07 Uhr 

    stunning and gorgeous in it’s simplicity…

  33. m.fay am 29.01.2011 um 19:02 Uhr 

    AMAZING!!! his work is so beautiful. great interview.

    amateur couture

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