The Style Files: Jeffrey Bilhuber

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Jeffrey Bilhuber is one of the most prolific interior designers of our time. With an impressive roster of A-list clientele, including what I would imagine to be one of the most discerning clients a designer could have, Anna Wintour, among them. Since establishing Bilhuber & Associates, Jeffrey’s distinctly American design sensibility has breathed new life into traditional interiors by mixing design periods and ideas with confidence and panache. As a result, Jeffrey’s iconic work has been featured extensively in every top shelter publication. In addition, he has been named to Architectural Digest‘s AD 100 list, ELLE DECOR‘s A-List, and House Beautiful‘s list of Top 100 Interior Designers numerous times.

Jeffrey has authored three highly acclaimed design tomes for Rizzoli. His latest book, American Master – Notes on Style and Substance, includes a foreword by his long-time client, actress Mariska Hargitay. It is filled with stunning photographs and inspiring design advice from Jeffrey who reminds the reader that “modernity is not about a new material, it’s about how you navigate your way through the world.” Jeffrey’s inimitable style and command of design prove that the title of his newest book is perfectly accurate. Hamish Bowles has even likened him to a “21st century Billy Baldwin” while Sara Ruffin Costello has declared that Jeffrey has “sealed his legacy as a design pioneer on par with phenoms like Albert Hadley.” I do believe those are the highest compliments a designer could receive and Jeffrey is most certainly deserving. Enjoy!

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Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Jeffrey Bilhuber: Constantly and consistently evolving. I am engaged by both the past and present. My work is honest, urbane, edited, intuitive, brisk, stylish, and modern, with a strong individual point of view.

Jeffrey Bilhuber UES

PC: Has living in New York influenced the way you decorate in any way?

JB: New York City has been my home base for over thirty years and continues to have a profound influence on my modern sensibilities of comfort and style. When I was interviewing with Valentino about a new project in New York, I asked him very specifically what the allure of New York represented to an international figure who has magnificent houses around the world. He stated very clearly and correctly that “New York is the city that the 20th century gave us”.

Jeffrey Bilhuber Modern House

PC: What does your home say about you?

JB: If you look very closely, I believe it says I want to move to the next challenge, the next opportunity and the next evolution. My apartment has gone through significant changes as it heroically tries to keep pace with a world filled with temptations. Something tells me the best is yet to come and I have a sneaky suspicion that there is at least one more apartment out there that has my name all over it. Opportunity knocks…

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

JB: Artists and music. Ellsworth Kelly was an American master and his hard edged paintings forced us to reinterpret our preconceived ideas of color. He was an essential innovator and contributor to the American art movement. David Hammons is a contemporary African American artist who blurs the notions of public and private spaces. Lele Marchitelli wrote the musical score for ‘The Great Beauty’ and to quote Michael Phillips’ from the Chicago Tribune; ‘listening to it is like floating away on the crest of a wave’. David Bowie’s recent passing united the world in its emotional sense of loss. He was a powerful influence on contemporary thoughts and ideas. Iman and David were friends and clients, and I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to be a small part of a very large life.

Jeffrey Bilhuber CPW Dining

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

JB: Lapo Elkann, heir to the Fiat fortune and collaborator on all things creative is provocative and engaging. A true rebel whose confidence and clarity take us to boundaries of current fashion and design. Martha Stewart who started her career as a Ford model consistently delivers a uniquely individual fashion perspective. Her style is absolutely her own, much like many of the other products, licensing and home goods she’s produced in her long, illustrious career.

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PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

JB: Guilty as charged. Working on the weekends. It’s very clear that my clients pay me to make creative decisions and Sunday afternoon in a quiet office is the best time for me to catch up and recharge my creativity. I couldn’t start working on Monday without my Sunday afternoon creative sanctuary.

Jeffrey Bilhuber Bathroom

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

JB: Confidence, fearlessness, and humor.

jeffrey bilhuber vignette

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

JB: Walking the ‘Red Carpet’. Alas, given my history and success within the design industry, I might be forever stuck on the ‘Sisal Runner’!

Jeffrey Bilhuber Bridgehampton

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

JB: 2016 will bear witness to the inevitable extension of my brand with the launch of diverse product and licensing collaborations. Heritage Home Group will roll out a signature collection of products to include upholstered furniture, case goods, decorative lighting, and accessories. In October of this year, Elson & Company will launch a collection of flat weave dhurries and Tibetan carpets that align with my singular American perspective. My fourth book, American Master – Notes on Style and Substance, Foreword by Mariska Hargitay will keep me busy touring the country well through 2016 and beyond. It launched as the #1 book in its market segment, just as my previous three books have.

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Go-To Outfit: white cotton sea island turtleneck by John Smedley, khaki pants from Brooks Brothers, blue blazer from Brunello Cucinelli.

Scent: St. John’s Bay Rum which reminds me of my father

Piece of Jewelry: My father’s signet ring, which was a gift he received from my mother fifty years ago.

Flower: Japanese Tuberose from L. Becker Florist on East 83rd Street

Era for Design: Whichever era we’re heading into– I want to be part of it! I’m not sure why so many people confuse modern with being stuck in 1974.

Hostess Gift: Seasonal butter cookies are a treat that anyone can bake at home and the thoughtfulness is much appreciated.

Drink: A whiskey sour made with William Larue Weller Bourbon

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: More work!

Weekend Destination: Our house in Locust Valley, NY. We have spent ten years restoring a house that was built in 1668 and we’re just now hitting our stride.

Hotel: The Ritz Paris, simply because I’m overjoyed that the offices of Thierry Despont are the perfect fit for the renovation and decoration of this cultural and social landmark.

Museum: The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Actor: Mariska Hargitay for her worthy work on and off the screen.

Risk Worth Taking: Travel while you still can!

Go-To Color Palette: Tobacco, aubergine, cornflower, ivory, cinnabar.

Paloma Signature

{Photography Courtesy of Rizzoli and Bilhuber and Associates}

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