Among all the outrageous holiday things we do, whether we’re rich or poor or simply middle-class, there is the outrageousness of paying someone else to do it for you. We’re all a little bit guilty of this, most likely — store gift-wrapping? Buying the pies instead of making them? — but some people do it A LOT. The New York Times talks to some of the magical interior design elves who make the holidays happen for rich people, who, unsurprisingly, outsource everything from tinsel to “atmosphere” to family traditions. With multiple homes, it’s very hard to decorate for yourself. And, really, why should you?
The piece is worth a read for the insane detail, which sort of managed to put us in the holiday spirit, in a weird way. And also because the interior designer tales of woe are both sparkly and sad, bitchy but devoted, and above all, committed to the magic — revealing a lot, we’d say, about the sort of person who becomes an interior designer in the first place. For instance:
He recalled one particularly arduous Christmas he orchestrated in the Hamptons: the long drive out in a painter’s van on Dec. 24, when he crouched in the back with a hair dryer aimed at the still-wet faux-marble top of a wall console a carpenter was waiting to install. When Mr. Salvator and his partner, Michael Zabriskie, arrived, they parked a few streets away from the house, in case the objects of all this fluffing — the chief executive “of a major corporation” and his family — arrived and saw the van.
“We trimmed the tree, put the logs in the fire and candles everywhere, throughout which time Michael was eating, without meaning to, all the Christmas cookies the housekeeper had prepared, so she had to make more,” Mr. Salvator said.
At dusk, “as the family came in the front door, we snuck out the back, walking through other people’s properties to find our van. We didn’t want the family to see us and feel guilty that we were there till the last hour. It’s like good dancing — the trick is to not make it look hard.”
Not only are rich people paying interior designers to conceptualize, set up, and style Christmas, they’re paying them to buy presents and even create personalized family histories and behaviors. Robin Bell, a designer who’s “producing a camouflage-print Christmas” for one family this year, “thought up” using tote bags instead of stockings as a family tradition a few years ago.
The best thing about all of this? It’s called “fluffing.” Of course it is.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 16, 2010