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Cristina Celestino was born in 1980 in Pordenone. In 2005, after graduating from the School of Architecture at IUAV University of Venice, she worked with prestigious design studios, focusing on interior architecture and design. In 2009 she moved to Milan, founding two years later her brand Attico Design. In […]
Betty Wasserman‘s name often comes up when talking about interior design in New York. She has established herself as one of the greatest New York interior designers since starting her firm in 1996. She combined her experience as a private art dealer for ten years with her enthusiasm for design and architecture, and the result was a very effective blend, with a warm and minimalist attitude. Betty was a delight to interview, and we’ll tell you all about it. Ready?
Her foray into interior design happened by chance. Betty was inside the New York scene on the field after ten years as an art dealer, and one of her clients wouldn’t take no for an answer. After firing a handful of workers, he acquired a new apartment and asked her to assist him and his wife decorate it. “I said ‘I don’t do that’, and he said: ‘Yes, you do’. I was like, ‘What do you mean? Yes, I do’…and it was just one of those people that you that doesn’t take no for an answer.” Betty immediately assembled a team and ripped up the wall-to-wall carpeting, as well as all of the garish mirrors that were strewn throughout the area. They straightened things out after sourcing what they needed. “Somehow it came together, then, of course, we did an art collection and that was my first project. Once I realized that I was pretty good at it and I really liked it, then I decided to go back and take classes and learn how to properly do a floor plan and reflected ceiling plan and all of that.”, she completes.
It was almost natural for her to start her own business after the first customer. Her thinking and circumstances were ideal because she already had an art company and an assistance. It was a simple shift, and the two companies complement each other perfectly. After all, design and art are inextricably linked. Wasserman’s private New York City design studio is now located in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. She creates for the city’s most stylish and exclusive locations from this inconspicuous workshop. She also has a personal property and satellite studio in The Hamptons, where she creates several luxury residences that have been published in leading design magazines.
Designing in New York may have some unique characteristics. “You have to be very smart about space,” she says. Between the most expensive square foot in the world and the most expensive flat in the world, every space in the city must be well planned: luxury space cannot be wasted in Manhattan residences. People used to prefer closed kitchens, but times have changed, and now the contrary is true: an open kitchen matches the modern lifestyle, in which you must maximize space and want to communicate with others while cooking.
Of all the projects, Betty has a favorite: her own loft in Southampton. “It’s not that it’s the biggest project I’ve ever had, not that it had the biggest budget by far (laughs) but because it was done for me and my family and it was so personal and I love working with my builder. I enjoyed the process so much that I was sad when it was over”, she admits. She chose to build her own house after searching for more than a year for suitable properties. She engaged an architect and began putting all of her ideas for lines, forms, and high ceilings into action.
She has no intention of retiring after more than 20 years of service. The goal is to take things a little slower, choosing two significant projects instead of three, for example. “I just can’t imagine not doing it because I really love it, it doesn’t feel like work at all. I feel very lucky and I always tell my daughter, like, whatever you choose to do for a career, you have to love it. I don’t care if it makes a little bit of money or a lot of money, you have to love it because otherwise, like, you know, do you want to wake up at 50 and say, Oh my God, what I did for all those years?”.
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