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We can all agree that 2020 has a been a year of significant ups and downs—between the pandemic and its sickness of loved ones and friends, long lockdowns (for those living with families and living alone), and the closing of many facets of our economy, a taxing presidential election cycle, a reckoning of our racial inequalities, and all the unexpected curveballs the last 10 months have brought. And while it has been an exhausting year, it has challenged us and provided opportunities for growth in many different ways.

As the time nears that is typically spent on reflecting on the past and planning for the future, we at VERANDA have been thinking about what 2020 has meant and how it has shaped and stretched us. While there are many, many moments of sadness, pain, and heartbreak, we’ve asked members of the design community to contemplate the unforeseen blessings of 2020 and share what they plan to take forward with them into the years to come.

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Joy Moyler

“I am beyond grateful for the pleasure of having real conversations,” says interior designer and VERANDA contributor Joy Moyler. “Everyone suddenly has time to really talk. I am learning the names of colleagues, vendors, and neighbors’ children now, beyond the quick ‘Hello’, and ‘Please send…’. Before the pandemic hit, everyone was in such a rush to get to the next thing on the to-do list. I am getting to know people from having long conversations and making new connections. I hope that doesn’t change.”


Nina Campbell

“I think the only way forward in seemingly difficult times is to keep calm and enjoy what is on offer,” says iconic interior designer Nina Campbell. “For me, that has been staying in London, because although I love traveling, I have really enjoyed being home: seeing my family and giving small dinners and lunches, as we can only invite six people. The result is it’s all gotten more casual and relaxed. Another benefit is not leaving the dogs!”


Ware M. Porter

“After months of solitude and reflection, I’m anxious to hit the ground running,” says interior designer and New Orleans shop owner Ware M. Porter. “In this next chapter, I’ll be sure to remember the important things in life.”


Frances Palmer

“I am incredibly grateful for family and friends on the rare occasions that we have be able to get together,” says ceramicist Frances Palmer, who has been handcrafting exquisite works of pottery since 1987. “Sharing moments have become significant, never to be taken for granted again. The silver lining for me has been the ability to work in my studio for long stretches and spend more time in the garden. The flowers have been enormous solace in this chaotic period.”


Nathalie Farman-Farma

“Thinking of silver linings, and there are many, is the only way to face the fears and frustrations brought on by the 2020 pandemic,” Nathalie Farman-Farma, textile historian and the genius behind Décors Barbares, says. “I cooked, gardened, deep-cleaned closets, called old friends, and enjoyed the novelty of uninterrupted time with my teenage children. Most unexpected of all, the enforced freeze-frame of lockdown gave me the power to say ‘no’ to all the things I don’t want in the next chapters of my life.”


Hutton Wilkinson

“As I write this, I’m in Florida finishing up a project in Palm Beach but have spent most of the last six months locked up at home…writing,” Hutton Wilkinson, the designer behind the legendary Tony Duquette studio, says. “My co-author on The Walk to Elsie’s, Manfred Flynn Kuhnert, and I have been able to put our COVID time to great creative use. We have written an eight-episode limited series about the first 10 years of Tony Duquette’s career and the last 10 years of Elsie de Wolfe’s life based on our book of historic fiction. Although the work was creative and involved a lot of laughter, it took us a grueling five months—working eight hours a day—to complete. What we have created (like our book) is a comedy as well as an epic journey starting the day the Germans take over Elsie de Wolfe’s house, the Villa Trianon, as Nazi headquarters at Versailles. Set in the 10 years between 1940 and 1950, Elsie flees the occupation by Rolls-Royce for the Spanish border, arrives in New York, and departs for Hollywood where she meets young Tony Duquette. They were creatively together for 10 years, going back to France after the war to restore the Villa Trianon, culminating with Duquette’s unprecedented one-man exhibition at the Louvre. We have a top Hollywood producers interested in our script…Let’s see what happens!”


Elizabeth Pash

“Clients have been spending more time at home and have shown a renewed interest in vintage and antique pieces—music to my ears!” says New York City–based interior designer and shop owner Elizabeth Pash. “Not only do vintage and antique pieces add character to a home, they are readily available (no long lead times), unique, and sustainable. Sometimes the best way to update is to use something from the past!”


Nicole Salvesen & Mary Graham

“I live in a leafy part of southwest London with my husband and three daughters and have remained here throughout the pandemic,” says Nicole Salvesen, one part of the design duo Salvesen & Graham. “London can be frenetic and pressured at times, and we have all cherished this time as a family where life has slowed down, and being surrounded by our kind and generous neighbours has made us realize what a wonderful community we live in. We also took the opportunity to get the puppy we had been discussing for months and are delighted we did. She gives us even more opportunity to be together as a family, running and walking outside of the working week. The joy she brings us all, especially the children, even makes some of the tougher days bearable, especially as we move in and out of varying restrictions.”

“Having just finished renovating our period farmhouse at the start of the pandemic, it was an unexpected pleasure to be able to spend more time at home with my family and to really have the opportunity to consider all the finishing touches needed to turn the property from a house to a home! My husband and I normally spend half the week in London, so to spend each week in our own home was bliss, although I became absolutely addicted to online antique shopping,” says Mary Graham. “I was so grateful for the chance to slow down and enjoy making a home for my family. As interior designers, we rarely get the chance to give as much time to our own homes as to those of our clients, so that has been something I’ve appreciated beyond measure this year.”


Elizabeth Locke

“For the last 32 years of my life, I have traveled frenetically—almost six months of the year,” says jewelry designer Elizabeth Locke. “Then 2020 came, and I walked unknowingly through Dulles Airport for the last time at the end of February. Since then I have been at home, and I have come to appreciate and love my home and garden more than I ever knew possible. This was the first March I have spent in Virginia since I began my business in 1988, and it was incredibly gratifying to see each day bring new growth and beauty. My garden has become my daily refuge, and I am grateful for the calming beauty that I find there.”


Robert Kime

“FaceTiming with the team has been a surprisingly satisfying way for us to ‘be together,’ but a trip to Venice this summer was a reminder of how important it is to see new things too, even if one is going back to old familiar spots,” says renowned interior designer Robert Kime. “I was grateful I was able to make that journey.”


Sue Sartor

“I think that the reset we have experienced coupled with the universal vulnerability we all have felt has brought the world closer in many ways while opened up our eyes to many things,” says Sue Sartor, the fashion merchandiser who began designing her own kaftans and tunics in 2017. “We now have a more collective enhanced appreciation and respect for our environment and the undeniable fact that we are all connected. This unique time has also forced us to slow down and reflect and focus on what matters most. This pause has allowed us to focus more deeply on family, our homes and gardens, and our creativity. I think the world was in a bit of a rut, and we were moving too fast and taking far too much for granted. I think all of us feel our priorities are a bit more in line now. A silver lining for my business was a the surge of appreciation for small-batch, high-quality, hard-to-find sustainable wares. With supply chains broken for much big-box retail, it was a unique opportunity for the small niche brands to gain exposure. In addition, the growing viewership on social media has helped to extend the reach of my brand of artisan luxury dresses and kaftans.”


Katie Leede

“Experiencing the pandemic for me has been an evolving and spiritually enlightening process,” Katie Leede, the New York City–based interior designer, says. “Through each step—starting with deep denial to embracing the forced shutdown whole-heartedly (hunkering down with loved ones and cooking, painting, picking up a little Spanish) to amping up my curiosity about the ‘Virtual Age’ on industry Zoom calls, opening up a store in the Hamptons right in the midst of it all, to having a freaking ball learning how to market beautiful objects for the home (because we all know how important our homes are now), to a relatively captive audience on platforms like Instagram—I have learned the following simple lessons. If I 1) sing praises for all my favorite things, people, and opportunities out loud on a daily basis and preferably before noon, 2) get outside, walk around no matter the weather and simply take notice of the wondrous goings on wherever I happen to be, and 3) choose to move toward experiences that are fun and feel really good, I can experience life as seriously magical even while wearing a mask. Perhaps this COVID lesson will become my silver lining formula to an ongoing happy life (pandemic or not), but it works for now! Try it!”


Meredith Ellis

“While 2020 has provided us with many challenges, I feel the silver lining has been the ability for us all to relearn the simple pleasures in life…which stem from the home and family,” says interior designer and James showroom founder Meredith Ellis. “When people are constrained by not being able to travel and explore, it has opened up their minds to bringing new life to their homes. People are recognizing the important role a home plays in their daily lives and their happiness because it’s where we all spend the most time.”


David Gusky

“I started the year 2020 working from our Paris office. From there, I travelled to Qatar for the Doha Jewelry and Watch Exhibition, just before the COVID-19 travel restrictions were put into place. From Doha, I flew home to Miami for a family visit, assuming that I would be there for a few weeks, until those weeks gradually turned into eight months,” says David Gusky, jewelry designer and founder of Davidor. “I am thankful and relieved that I could spend that extended time, at the height of the pandemic, with my family. I took advantage of my prolonged stay to work on new Davidor collections, while seizing an unexpected retail opportunity. I was invited to open a pop-up boutique at the prestigious Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, Florida. Our pop-up will open in time for the 2020 holiday season, and it will be followed by the spring 2021 opening of our very first U.S. flagship boutique at Bal Harbour Shops. Had COVID-19 not restricted travel and I not been in Miami, I’m not sure that any of these pieces would have fallen into place, ultimately providing Davidor with this incredible opportunity.”


Schuyler Samperton

“Since I haven’t been able to travel, one of the silver linings for me has been all of the wonderful inspiration that I’ve received from magazines, books, and Instagram,” says Schuyler Samperton, the Los Angeles–based textile designer. “I’ve relied heavily on all of those sources and have had the great fortune to connect with some amazing creative spirits. Through an article I saw on the Instagram account of design PR whiz, Christina Juarez, I connected with a textile artist named Neil Goss. He’s based in Asheville, North Carolina, but I commissioned him to do a piece for a current design client in Santa Monica, and it’s the perfect fit. I also so appreciate whoever invented FaceTime, because without it I wouldn’t be able to stay connected to my friends and family. They’re the ones who keep me going!”


Rela Gleason

“Our greatest silver lining is truly silver—it is our renovated Airstream that we call Rosie,” says interior designer Rela Gleason. “Since the recent devastation caused by the Napa wildfires, it has turned into our mini-home on wheels. We are thankful to have it and to have completed the renovations in August, just in time for our fire evacuation order in the same month. I remain able to cook good food, and we have all the comforts of design even in a small space—along with, of course, the kindness of strangers and dear friends and family. Being in our own surroundings with our cherished treasures has given us solace during this time.”

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