It’s impossible to think of Lisa Perry and not imagine bright colors, swing silhouettes, and circles. Lots of circles. Since the launch of her eponymous apparel collection more than a decade ago, Perry has developed an immediately recognizable language around her Pop Art aesthetic and optimistic outlook. When she launched her line of home décor, that same ’60s spirit was ever-present, offering shoppers a new way to bring sunny hues and streamlined shapes into their living spaces.
It’s not surprising, then, that when Perry began to tackle the world of interior design, her signature palette and perspective followed. As showcased in her new book, Lisa Perry: Fashion • Homes • Design (Assouline), the designer approaches each of her six residences with a consistent emphasis on color and a desire to play off the natural environment. We talked with Perry about the look and feel of her homes and how she is expanding far beyond her first signature Fleurty dress into the world of architecture and interiors.
The Window: In the book, you talk about how interior design has the power to influence mood on a daily basis. How do you create a room to evoke happiness?
Lisa Perry: A lot has to do with the way you set a room up. In spaces you use for entertaining, one thing that’s really important is to position sofas in a circle or U shape, so they lend themselves to conversation. In the same way, I love rounded-off objects, whether that’s a table or chair. It adds softness and stimulates conversation. It’s a myth that modern or minimal spaces can’t be warm.
Most people associate your style with high-energy colors. But white is really an important staple of your design palette.
You know, it’s actually rare that I will paint walls a color. Nine times out of 10 my walls are white, floors are white, and I have white furniture. Color is an accessory, and which color I choose depends where I am. For the house in Florida, I used yellow and turquoise—they represent the sun and the sea. When I’m at the house in France, I think about the artists that inspire me, like Calder and Miró, and use primary colors as my jumping-off point.
Where is the crossover between your passion for art and for fashion?
My ready-to-wear collection started 12 years ago with me looking at art in my apartment, and as I am looking at it, I see a dress. I literally translated a piece of art into a dress I wanted to design, and that was the start of the collection. In general, though, it’s more of a feeling that carries from one to the other.
Do you ever design a room around a certain piece of art?
Usually, I think of the space as a whole. I like things to feel cohesive, and I like open spaces where you can see more than one room at a time, so there needs to be synergy from one room to the next. There needs to be flow. That said, the Sutton Place penthouse had beautiful Old World details—fireplace moldings and so on. But then this giant Lichtenstein painting came, and the spot where I knew it belonged was exactly where the fireplace was. So it was bye-bye, fireplace, and the art became the centerpiece.
Are your homes organized thematically by art?
Our Sutton Place penthouse focuses on Pop Art. That was our start of our collection 20 years ago, focusing on ’60s. The whole apartment—furniture, art, accessories—all revolves around that. Our house in North Haven is more a celebration of minimalism and geometric art.
Of the six homes featured in this book, your 12C Sutton Place apartment is an outlier in terms of design. Why a different approach?
With this space I really wanted to celebrate the apartment’s original feel, which reminded me of places in Paris where Old World charm is juxtaposed with very modern art and furniture. The New York City building is from 1910, so it was the right era to give it that chic Parisian apartment feel.
In Hillary Clinton’s forward to your book, she describes your clothes as stylish, comfortable, and easy for travel: perfect for busy professional women. Is that who you have in mind when you design?
My philosophy and feelings have evolved since I started designing. In the beginning, when I was my own muse, I wanted to capture that ’60s freedom vibe—I loved the less-fitted dresses that followed the corseted clothes of ’50s. But today women want to wear pants more; they want versatility. Hillary loves coats that you can wear as a tunic with pants underneath. It’s always been about empowering women to feel free and comfortable in clothing, so as their needs have changed, I’ve evolved the collection as well.