Breakfast at Lillian's
Between my in-laws, brothers-in-law and us, we are spread out over 3 states: Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey. So when there is a family gathering, it is typically at my brother-in-law's house in the southeast part of Connecticut. It's almost a three-hour drive for us, but in the early days of making the drive, I didn't mind, because I would always manage a way to visit one of my favorite home decor stores nearby, the Lillian August store. At that time (back in the early 2000s), it was in Danbury, Connecticut. When the store relocated, I was disappointed. Not my husband (of course).
A couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to be invited to celebrate Lillian August's 25 Years in Design at her flagship store and headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut. Like the old store in Danbury, this store is merchandised so expertly. Filled with eye candy of Lillian's eponymous line of furnishings manufactured by Hickory White and Currey and Company, it also has the wonderful eclectic mix of antiques, vintage and global wares that comprises Lillian's signature style.
This wonderful vignette incorporates furnishings from the Lillian August Fine Furniture Collection for Hickory White and Asian artifacts, rugs and lighting curated from around the world. It's so typical of the wonderful mix in Lillian August store displays.
Over breakfast with other design bloggers, like Sue De Chiara of The Zhush, Stacy Kunstel of Stacy Style, Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence and Jessica Gordon Ryan of The Entertaining House, Lillian regaled us with stories of her start in the business, the family enterprise and her design inspirations and process.
Like many doyennes in design, Lillian started her business as a divorcee to support her family. Trained as an artist, Lillian channeled that expertise into designing bed linens and wallcovering. Soon the family got involved: Lillian's sons, Dan and John joined the business to launch Lillian's retail venues. It became a family affair with Lillian doing the designing and Dan and John doing the curating and handling the business end of things.
When Lillian started in business, homeowners gravitated toward buying suites of furniture. Lillian pioneered the eclectic style of mixing styles and periods to arrive at what today is termed a "curated" look. Scouring the marketplace for ideas, Lillian draws inspiration from couture fashion shows, but does not hesitate to draw upon archival classics. She views the emphasis in design today as creating personal style and looks at furniture silhouettes to infuse personality into interiors. That, and color are what drive design for Lillian. For every collection -- and she conceives a new collection twice each year -- she starts with a punch of color. For Fall 2013, for example, she added pops of orange to a palette of navy blue and white. To Lillian, this palette had cross-over appeal: it could go preppy or it could go coastal.
A beautiful monochromatic store vignette with pops of purple. Lillian believes the color trend today is monochromatic with color block accents.
Dan Weiss, Lillian's son and business partner, walked the 10,000-foot store with us and pointed out some of the signature items offered there. The Lillian August team looks for unique vendors and craftsmen to complement Lillian's furniture designs. Below is a display of hair on hide rugs the store stocks and customizes.
The Lillian August stores stock Libeco linens, an exclusive line of high end linen textiles and home products from Belgium.
What a treat to meet Lillian and hear her design philosophy first hand. Congratulations on 25 years in design and here's to decades more!