It seems fitting that the grand dame of House and Garden, Sue Crewe, should bow out in her final issue, after 20 years at the helm, with an interview of the reigning master of hi-society décor Nicholas Haslam. I reckon Nicky at 75 could offer a swift masterclass in RRR: Retiring in style, Retiring to strike again, Retiring to …. (fill in final word at your leisure: party, write memoirs, decorate, have fun etc ) I am stressing the ‘retired’ element as there is nothing retiring about Nicky.
And what a pad…it’s kind of ‘Eau de Nicky’: fun, fabulous – even a little trashy supa-chic. A stylish tightrope act over tacky-taste which he walks fearlessly.
As Nicky says: Having ‘taste’ – by which I mean the love of whatever pleases us – is one thing… But taste’s big brother, ‘style’, comes with inquistiveness, imagination, audacity, a sense of history and an urge to redefine and reinterpret. Taste is inert, style is proactive.
Trompe l’oeil floor and faux bamboo wallpaper set the tone for Nicky’s gamesmanship, he keeps you guessing whilst asserting himself and his decor-magic all the way, as Sue Crewe says: Nicky could turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. Want a full run through, check out House and Garden and then maybe, as I did, click through to the NY Times article. It will help you decipher the faux from the’ inspired by’, the old friends from the chic recent bespoke commissions.
Contemplate whether you would consider momentarily (let alone install) a life size, nude, Lucien Freud inspired portrait of ‘one’… in the sitting room, Haslam makes me laugh. He lives life to the FULL and I admire how he still stirs it up, he’s provocative, energetic and engaged – not Retired but RELEVANT. He says: I just find there is something fascinating about everybody and you have to dig a bit and get it. It’s very rewarding. Not to be closed in any way is very important in life, I think. So it seemed appropriate that my next click on NY Times, (I always get lost on their site it’s endlessly good) brought me to a whose-who of the Octageranian world entitled: Old Masters, after 80, some people don’t retire they reign.
If you want their secret, past the obvious: longevity, it’s PASSION and curiosity, they keep asking questions and drive themselves relentlessly in their area of expertise, sounds familiar.
Turns out that these evergreen octogenarians have the secret of youth, not the physical perfection we’re assaulted with daily via myriad dewy skinned ingénues, but a state of mind. Well according to the next NY Times article I read: What if Age is Nothing but a Mind-Set? here Ellen Langer, Harvard Professor of psychology tells her elderly subjects: make a psychological attempt to be the person they were 22 years ago. We have good reason to believe that if you are successful at this you will feel as you did… Clearly no one has told Langer all she needs do is hook up with Nicky Haslam. Actually this is what I love about him, Nicky is young at heart, busy of mind and passionate. Can’t wait for what he pulls out of the retirement-hat next, turns out – one more click, it’s a book! published November 20th.
I read recently: Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. So let’s fill ourselves with dreams we are passionate about, become masters, and stay engaged … all the way to retired and beyond.
All images of Nicholas Haslam’s apartment are from House and Garden December 2014, shoot by Simon Upton.
New York Times photo credits given in the article.
Book Cover….better buy the book A Designer’s Life, published by Rizzoli, November 2014.
quote: Earl Nightingale and he has plenty more, Haslam would rather like, Your world is a living expression of how you are using and have used your mind.
Decision made: am definitely doing that Decorative Arts Masters…..the one I was dreaming about.