Design Expert: Sam Simon
I believe in creativity, hope and hard work. I built a business from the ground up, literally—my work began on the sidewalks of Boston. I created larger than life chalk drawings, pulling colorful images out of those dark grey slabs of concrete. As I drew, I passed out cards to anyone who would stop and talk to me that read, “I can do any art project with love and style.” Now I paint in homes and businesses and create beautiful murals and hand painted children’s rooms as well as limited edition artwork.
I reference my inspirations in most everything I do: mid-century illustration books, Dolly Parton, super-cute japanese aesthetics, vintage dishes, art deco, fashion and music. I like to look for inspiration in everything, even little things like how car brake lights shine like neon rubies on an otherwise gray and rainy day.
When thinking of everything from furniture, textiles, artwork, even how to decorate a cake or pick out the right neck tie, composition is so important. Everything benefits from good composition and editing. Getting rid of something is just as important as adding something.
Above all things I go back to a couple design rules all the time—one from my parents: “Good style comes from within and not a price tag.” The second I learned while working as stock boy in Bloomingdales. Roz, who worked in the China Department, would say, “If you’ve got fancy china, get simple silver; if you’ve got fancy silver, get simple china.”
The third one I live by—I think Dolly Parton and Liberace subscribed to it as well—if all else fails, cover it in glue and roll it in glitter.
I love living in NYC and sharing my home with my charming partner and our two cats. In my down time, I like to hang out on rooftops and listen to music; occasionally, when the right song comes on, we dance around like Muppets.
Sam Simon Projects
1. The Tiffany Diamond—you need not be a millionaire or look like Audrey Hepburn to walk right into Tiffany’s on 5th Ave and see this 128 carat stunner (set into a vitrine on the north wall of the legendary flagship). It is pure magic—I’ve loved looking at it since I was a tiny boy, and my parents had to lift me up to see it sparkle. 2. Visiting Japan is something everyone must do. The attention to design and detail is pure inspiration, right down to their bento boxes! I love cute details! 3. The flowers and patterns of Bernardaud China are simply divine. It is all handmade and of the highest quality. One single teapot takes fifty artisans to make! 4. The Chrysler Building in NYC, completed in 1930, stands as an elegant Art Deco beacon. It is shiny, strong and gorgeous! I see it daily, and it inspires me every time—a pure Art Deco gem! 5. My business is small, and there isn’t always someone to ask what I should do; sometimes in my head I say, Okay, Sam, WWDD (what would Dolly do)? Usually the answer is add more crystals! Dolly Parton is hopeful, smart, talented and productive; those are attributes we can all strive for. 6. This piece by Ellsworth Kelly exemplifies the importance of composition, color, line and shape. 7. The perfect combination: Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol. I can look at her face forever; her eyes are referenced in many of the animals I paint. 8. Yes, edible glitter exists, yes I have it, and yes, I like it on my French fries. Try it on something unexpected—like gazpacho or green beans! This is attainable magic!