Charlotte Moss is the featured guest lecturer at the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville on February 11, 2011.
She is one of the most formidable interior designers in the world with seven published books, and another one coming out in March — Charlotte Moss Decorates:The Art of Creating Elegant and Inspiring Rooms. Her fabric collection is launching in 2011 through Fabricut, to accompany her original designs of china, carpet, decorative accessories and home fragrances. Add to all this that she was recently presented with the Timeless Design Award by the Royal Oak Foundation for her commitment to historic preservation and tireless philanthropic work. And guess what? I, Elizabeth Fox, got to interview her!
Let me tell you, after about ten seconds on the phone with Charlotte Moss, I felt like I was talking to a good buddy — she is so down to earth it is a little…well, disarming. One of the things I truly love to do is interview people. I find it fascinating, the story behind the story. And if you don’t really listen, you just miss nuances of the person.
I didn’t think my first question was zinger of a question. But when there was no immediate response from Charlotte, I realized I had touched a nerve. And her response gave me such a view into who she really is. Let’s put it this way: if I was hiring someone, I would hire Charlotte Moss — hands down.
So you say the South has really influenced you, as one of the country’s most renowned decorators, but what does that really mean?
This is hard to talk about…there is a certain ferocity in Southern women, a Scarlett O’Hara type of ferocity. We were taught to be leaders and were the glue involved in everything. If something needed to be done, we did it, from tying shoes to setting our grandmothers’ tables with elegant place settings; we did what we were told whether we liked it or not.
So where did you fall in your family?
I am the oldest of five children and my father was in the military.
What about the trends you are seeing in your business?
Technology dictates, to a large extent, our business — access to information and shorter cycles. We now have access to anything in the world through the internet. People will still buy, for the most part, the largest home they can afford. What they put inside can be another story.
It seems your industry has done a pretty good job of blocking consumers from getting access to goods that are labeled “to the trade only”. What do you think about that?
It’s simply wrong. Consumers should have access to everything decorators do. Let’s face it: the ability to buy 30 yards of a great fabric in no way reflects anything. When you hire a decorator, you get the entire package.
When people (men or women) hire a decorator, what are some of the common mistakes they make?
The husband and wife are not in sync with what they want in either their look or their investment. When someone says to me now, “We don’t have a budget” I say, “Oh yes you do – you’re just not letting me know what it is.” You learn from experience there are many dynamics at work.
When you speak in front of a large group, like the Antiques and Garden Show, what do you hope to accomplish?
I want to stir people up and get some energy in the room. I want people to walk away with some information they can use, with thoughts they have not considered, or to see ordinary things in a different way.
Since closing your store, how are you spending your extra time?
The thing I am most proud of is increasing my philanthropic efforts. I contribute the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, UNICEF and other charities. When I was younger I was building my business, now it is my time to give back. (Style Blueprint tracked down a quote from Charlotte on giving back — “Philanthropy is more about the heart than it is the pocketbook.”) Additionally, I contribute to the Wall Street Journal Magazine, write a blog, Tete-A-Tete and enjoy life.
What are three things you can’t live without?
I assume I can’t say my husband?
1. Books. I am currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack.
2. My iPad.
3. Time. None of us who are busy have enough time to do the things we want to do.
Charlotte Moss will be a guest lecturer at the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville on Friday, February 11th at 10:30AM
For more information go to: The 2011 Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville