“There was a period in my life when I did not have a clue about who or what I wanted to be. I was completely disconnected from whatever talents I might have had. I was fortunate enough to meet Bob Patino, an interior designer who became a mentor to me. Very quickly, I found a direction and a career.
I immersed myself in work, and the years flew by. I was continually looking for the next job, the next challenge. The one constant in my schedule was an annual trip. Every December I visited some exotic destination. This was adventure travel, and it usually did not involve luxury hotels or pampering. The point was to get closer to another culture.
One year I was in Himalaya, hiking through a rhododendron forest along the border between Sikkim and Nepal. The views were incredible, but the mountan path was more suited to goats than to people. It was a perpetual zigzag – climbing up, flattering out, then climbing up again. I was looking at the steep incline coming up and thinking about how I hate going uphill. When was it going to be lunchtime? How much farther did we have to go before it would be over? Why was I here?
All of a sudden a light bulb went off in my head. Wait a minute. I’m walking on the flat part now, and it’s actually kind of pleasant. The clouds just parted, the sun came out, and I can feel the warmth on my skin. Why don’t I enjoy it, instead of worrying about what’s up ahead?
The future will always be just out of reach. You’ll get there eventually, and it may not be as bad as you think. But in the meantime, don’t miss the here and now. Live in the moment. That’s what’s important. What I’m doing today? How can I use my energies?
I don’t pretend to have absorbed this message completely, but I’m trying. There is always a before and an after; but the point is to be present and aware for all the moments in between.”
I can barely contain my enthusiasm for the work of Vicente Wolf – a legend on the design scene with a magnificent portfolio, author, lecturer, photograph, world traveler, and art aficionado. His work is like no one else’s. Sophisticated, elegant, and comfortable combination of „strength and sensuality“. I’ve read almost every design book that was published in the last 20 years. Among my top 5 favorites are “Learning to See”, “Lifting the Curtain on Design”, and “The Four Elements of Design” – all written by Vicente Wolf. Recently I had the great pleasure to have a cyber sit down with the New York designer. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy the conversation. I sure did.
What does a happy day in the life of Vicente Wolf look like?
Presenting a job that I’m very proud of and having the client feel the same. I love gardening and if it’s an extraordinary day, I’m getting on a plane to some exotic place.
Do you have a daily routine?
Get up at 5:30 – run, do sit ups, feed the fish and the cat.
7:30 Meditate for a half hour, get ready to go to the office.
8:45 Go thru emails and messages, flip through the NYT and greet the staff as they come in.
9:15 Work begins: Put finishing touches on spaces, offer my design concepts for others, Google around for that perfect chair, instruct the intern on his way to the D+D for fabric samples, etc.
11:00 Jump next door to my showroom, VW Home, to review the new shipment of inlaid pieces that just came in from Bangkok. Work with showroom manager Trudi Romeo on reorganizing the displays.
12:00 Go over photos to determine which we should post on social media.
12:45 Return messages.
1:00 Have my cantaloupe and cottage cheese lunch.
1:30 Walk around to each of the designers for updates and to weigh in on the projects they are working on.
2:30 Move into my marketing director’s office to go over various items: contest judging requests, media outreach, PowerPoint presentation for upcoming speaking engagement and respond to editors’ questions.
3:30 Perhaps join the team listening to a product rep in the conference room, dash over to a job site, respond to designers’ questions regarding projects, Skype with client, etc.
5:30 Head home to meet my trainer for yet another workout.
5:45 Prepare a healthy and delicious dinner and get ready for the theater.
10:45 Go to bed.
When did you first discover your love of interior design?
In the 1970’s.
Looking back at your first project, what design knowledge do you wish you had back then?
The resources to create custom furnishings instead of purchasing from the showrooms.
What interior design moves you most?
Designing spaces with wonderful natural lighting.
When designing your home, what was your first source of inspiration?
For my home in Montauk, it was the ocean, without a doubt.
What is your best advice on color?
To use mercurial colors that change as the day progresses.
What do you suggest people to transform their homes?
Work from floor plans and complete the plan before beginning work. You must have a total vision of the space before starting.
If you had no limits, what would be your dream project?
One where the client is clear about what they want and then gives me the freedom to let me design one step beyond their expectations. When they trust me, they are always very happy with the result.
What do you love to do when you aren’t designing?
Being in the garden, traveling, cooking.
What are your favorite books?
Biographies; getting a glimpse into the lives of successful people is a marvelous source of personal growth.
What does success mean to you?
Having my work that brings me much joy and enjoying my life.
Imagine you’re teaching a class in the school of life. What would be your tips?
Even if it’s a horrible day, you’ll always come out ahead if you put your integrity first and never compromise. Be a professional in your work and never forget that you MUST learn how to be a business person first and a creative person second.
Photos: Vicente Wolf