Some of you may be familiar with a set of questions, popularly known as the “Proust Questionnaire,” originating from publications of the French author Marcel Proust at the end of the 19th century. It is a personality test of sorts and Proust was famous for having answered these questions at the age of 13 and again at the age of 20. The different answers given at different stages in life can be revealing. Many of you also may know that the magazine Vanity Fair runs a version of this at the end of each edition, answered by various celebrities.
I thought it would be fun to pose an interior design version of the Proust Questions to see our design personality. I have provided my answers to the questions below. I invite you to send your own responses to me at the email address below and/or on my Facebook page. Later, we can try this again to see if anything has changed. We can have some fun with this!
What do you regard as the lowest depth of (design) misery?
Living under a remodeling project with an unfinished kitchen. The kitchen is the center of family life and all sustenance. How awful if it is incomplete!
Where would you like to live?
In a Napa Valley hillside, surrounded by flowers, vines, and animals of the field.
What is your idea of earthly (design) happiness?
A gorgeous sofa that guests can sink into covered in luxurious velvet and elegant flowing drapes in every room.
To what (design) faults do you feel most indulgent?
I am too colorful for my own good. I love colors. Neutrals can be such a bore at times. In addition, I love change. There is no reason why you have to live with a design forever — feel free to change, often.
Who are your favorite (design) characters in history?
The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the grandest building that ever was built, filled with breathtaking treasures. The building has a Russian soul.
The (design) quality you most admire in a man?
An adventurous spirit that allows for the incorporation of “feminine” decor; one who is not afraid of pink!
The (design) quality you most admire in a woman?
An adventurous spirit that embraces non-formulaic solutions, such as mixing antiques and modern designs.
Your favorite (design) virtue?
Which (designer) would you have liked to be?
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Bunny Mellon, the chic legend. She devoted her life to the creation of beautiful gardens and was famous for her luxurious yet humble sense of style.
Your most marked (design) characteristic?
Attention to detail and ability to translate classic into modern.
What (design characteristic) do you most value in your friends?
A willingness to follow their heart and instincts and to experiment and take a certain amount of risk in their design choices.
What is your principle (design) defect?
Not enough editing out of things that do not matter. Editing is a constant requirement in design. Sometimes, it is hard to eliminate an attractive piece when it does not perfectly fit the project.
What is your favorite (design) color(s)?
Gray and chocolate.
What is it that you most dislike (in design)?
Cold, angular pieces that do not tell the story of the homeowner.
What natural (design) gift would you most like to possess?
The ability to draw and paint.
How would you like (your designs) to die?
Not of neglect!
What is your present (design) state of mind?
What is your (design) motto?
It’s nobody’s style but your own.