Style Profile – Amanda Medsger
What is your styling process when analyzing a new space?
My process is extremely analytical before it is ever creative. As much as we all sometimes want to roll in and immediately start designing (or styling) a project, I think its really important to come into a project with a blank slate and open mind. And to really take the time to assess not only all of the current elements of the space, but also the client’s end goal. What are we aiming to achieve with the look? How are we aiming to make our audience feel in the space? I take inventory of any/all existing parts that need to be worked-in or accommodated (surveying the space and doing all the tedious measurements, etc). Its kind of like an algebra equation: we have A and we need to get to C. So, what do we put with A to get there? To figure that out, its just lots of thinking, brainstorming and putting pencil to paper. I try really hard not to look at any reference images (i.e., Pinterest) until I have hashed out a lot of ideas in my own mind. If I need to find a reference image to see how to realize some of these thoughts, then I’ll start trying to sift through some imagery. Often it is time when the light bulb goes on. I’m just always working for that moment when the answer becomes obvious. The goal is to try to find something not just beautiful, but that hasn’t been done before. That’s really hard to do now with things like Pinterest and Instagram inundating our minds with finished work. It definitely takes patience and setting aside creative time to come up with something I can feel proud of. And I definitely think one has to separate themselves from all the images that are out there and trust their own minds to find a creative solution unique to each project.
Give us an example of how you come up with a concept for a client dinner.
The process for the Christopher Spitzmiller dinner was very similar to what I said above. My initial meeting with Ruth was purely observational with lots of note-taking. It was all about hearing her initial vision, as well as practical things like the number of people needing to be accommodated and what Christopher pieces we were featuring. I also read a lot about him during that time - digging for any interesting facts about him, his work, and his general interests. I read a lot about his process and his work. It was not until gathering all of that information, that I took pencil to paper, and truly brainstormed. I knew I wanted to nod to his love for nature and gardening, but also knew I wanted to do something less obvious than just putting a pretty bouquet of flowers or greenery as the centerpiece. I had recently been exploring the idea of propagating herbs from my own garden and was loving being able to watch the root systems grow in water before my eyes. That’s when it occurred to let the tablescape be about that process. I came up with a general concept and mood board that I felt spoke not only to that, but also to Christopher’s life and work, as well as the initial vision that Ruth had for the event.
What inspired you in regards to Christopher Spitzmiller’s work?
As said above, what ultimately inspired me was his process of creating, not just within the world of his ceramics, but also in the garden. I really wanted to connect to that. I knew I didn’t want to cut flowers for this particular event (which ultimately wilt away), I wanted it to give the sense of process and the longevity of his work. Yet, I also knew I didn’t want the heaviness of potted plants. And, so, I think that’s when the little bell went off and I thought, let’s just echo in that connection with process, creation, and nature. I presented the idea to let the roots of the garden (and process of growing) be shown, along with the flowers by placing the flowers and roots into bulb vases. In place of potting soil, the connection to earth was presented in the form of the limestone bricks from Chateau Dominque, which was also a nod to the old school house in Georgetown, from which Christopher worked at the beginning of his career. I wanted it to sort of represent a deconstructed version of that studio space.