Designers We Love
William Diamond and Anthony Baratta
All the design rules we had 20 years ago are important; it's like learning the classics. But those design rules, basically, all have to get thrown in the garbage or you're not growing. You keep them, and you have to integrate them, but you have to expand, too. You have to keep reinventing.
Bill Diamond originally partnered with Pauline Feldman, a continuing mentor to the Diamond Baratta Design practice. Tony Baratta joined Diamond as an apprentice in 1974, introduced by a mutual friend. First six months were rocky. No money for Tony, just the learning experience. 26 years later, they are a dynamic duo, much in demand and widely published in every high-end shelter magazine.
Design inspirations include Sister Parrish ("a genius"), Zha Hadid ("a genius"), David Hicks, Richard Rogers, Joe D'Urso ("the greatest designer of the 70s, bar none"), Gio Ponti ("we're totally obsessed with him right now"), and art from painters and sculptors ("our biggest inspiration right now; we look to art for color and pattern").
Their Caryn and Craig Efron house project in Manhattan was a location shoot for the Meryl Streep character (Miranda Priestly) in the movie Devil Wears Prada.
Playful experimentation with scale, like the Diamond-Baratta sofa ("It looks like you took a bicycle pump and blew it up! It took scale to new levels.").
Everything they design is custom, from the furniture, fabrics, rugs, and hardware. Diamond Baratta Design has expanded into licensed merchandise. Lee Jofa fabric line. Stark floor covering line. Old World Weavers wallpaper line.
What We Love
This design couple have often been called "geniuses," but there is some bitchy animosity in some of the design blogs who find their experimentation with color and pattern to be too cold, too bright, too carnivalish, too wild, too designed, or too sterile. We don't concur. Our descriptions of their work would be bright, bold, and fearless.
Give us a Diamond Baratta handmade needlepoint rug, their signature design element, any day!
We appreciate their layers of color, pattern, and shape. Many of their spaces make us smile. Some make us laugh. We know they are achieving the right balance for their clients' personalities because they tend to attract strong personalities -- like those who asked them to do 18th Century French design after passing up the chance to work with designers who specialized in that. We're sure they got French with a huge playful twist.
There is a modern edge to the project Diamond Baratta Design complete, but there's also an undertow of retro and a huge dollop of arts and crafts. We like the handmade aspects of many of their rooms, from braided rugs to nubby chair fabrics.
In a recent interview, Bill Diamond advised homeowners to decorate by being true to yourself. Tony Baratta added, "Stay away from being trendy," to which Mr. Diamond added, "If you do trendy, in two years you're going to hate it if you're doing it because you think it's what you should be doing. But if you're doing it because it's who you are, what you really love, you're going to love it forever."
Diamond Baratta Sampler