20 Minutes with… Stan Topol

Editorial Director Clinton Smith sits down with the local design legend


CLINTON SMITH: I love the pillow in your office that’s embroidered with one of your own quotes: ‘Having style does not mean one has to be stylish.’
STAN TOPOL: Having style means there’s some character behind the eye.
Where do you see design headed in 2010?
Design has gotten itself so confused because of the Internet; people are buying things without ever touching them. Nobody understands scale or proportion. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But it will get better.
What are your thoughts on timeless design and luxury?
What I love to be able to do is take the average and make it personal for a client, so it becomes something extra special. That’s luxury. Timeless interior design will always be a room that’s furnished based on its proportions. That can be a room designed with contemporary or traditional furniture; the layout and proportion are what make it timeless.
And luxury?
Luxury is not about money. Luxury doesn’t always mean that it’s the most expensive. It’s about having the style to recognize it.
I know you think that culture and design go hand-in-hand.
Yes. Everybody dresses alike. Whatever happened to individual style? Penmanship? Thank you notes? Manners? It’s the scariest thing in the world. These are the things that civilization is made of and they’re gone—or at least going. I don’t know why everyone wants to look like everyone else, but I will one day!
What’s going to save us?
The human factor. The need for comfort, the need for family, the need for having a dog and petting it. It’s going to bring us back to humanity.
And this is integral to design?
Absolutely. Good design is like a mother and father taking care of you. Living rooms and libraries and dens need to be designed for people to have conversations. We’ve lost the gift of talk. How many reality shows can you watch? How many shows are we watching without actual scripts or good writing? How many magazines and books are we not reading? Let’s talk again!