One of the nicest and most thoughtful designers I've had the opportunity to meet is the incomparable Thomas O'Brien. It is interesting to note that highly creative people seem to fall into one of a few camps. You have the butterflies: those bubbly types who seem to flit with ease from one topic, specialty and interest to the next without so much as a moment's hesitation. As I write that I realize I should admit that I fall into that camp, as do most of interior designers I have met. We tends to be lively and fun but lack much interest in pesky things like paperwork and other things that can slow us down. This does not mean we lack attention to details - we pay plenty of attention to visual details. But words, rules and parameters tend to make us feel pinched and uncomfortable so we avoid them like the plague.
There is also the "artiste" that special breed of creative who sleeps until noon, is suspiciously calm at all times and seems to feel it is there moral duty to be true to their art, their passions and themselves. I've worked with these intense creatures from time to time. They take their art very seriously and are typically not motivated by worldly possessions or critical acclaim. It is all about the art, and that shows in their expansive collections and large body of work. They tend to be painters and sculptors and it is their life's mission to express themselves.
And lastly, you have the rarest of types. The intellectual designer. They might just as easily have pursued a career in academia as art. They share a love of books, have an affinity for words and are whip smart historians who bring much more than just a creative eye to the design table. These are great minds and make for fascinating conversationalists at parties, as there seems to be no end to their vast encyclopedic knowledge.
Thomas, the great Thomas O'Brien, is easily one of the shining stars of this category. If you doubt this, I challenge you to grab a copy of his fascinating book, American Modern. In it, he discusses the back story, motivations, considerations and implications of many of his amazing projects. And while it is rich in text, he is affable, approachable and engaging throughout the entire book. I found myself mesmerized by his stories and thoughtfulness. If compelled, you could easily just flip through page after glorious page staring at photos of beautiful pieces and spaces, but there was something about his warmth and intensity in the writing that had me glued to this book.
With Thomas, there is a generosity of spirit at work. He wants to you be more informed. He hopes to encourage you to understand the how's and the why's of design. He invites you to uncover the very reasons that you're attracted to certain styles. And he wants to help get you there. And if you're paying even light attention you can't help but walk away from this book more knowledgeable and more curious about how design and form shape the way we live and breathe.
Do yourself a favor, grab a copy of this beautiful book in hardcover and add it to your design library. But go a step further... read it, consume it, digest it and absorb it. Thomas is inviting us into his world and generously offering us a glimpse into his razor sharp mindset as a designer. You'll never think of furnishings the same way again and you'll certainly fall in love with the talented and warm Thomas O'Brien.