JAMES HUNIFORD’S SPACES HAVE A ROUGH-REFINED SENSIBILITY
"The designer is a master of mixing old and new, vintage and custom to create interiors that are wholly authentic."
by Pilar Viladas
Looking back on his three-plus decades as an interior designer, James Huniford succinctly describes the secret of his success: “I had no preconceived ideas, because I was self-taught.” His curiosity and constant search for ways to integrate the old and the new — whether in interiors, furniture or found objects — has produced an impressive body of work that includes comfortable retreats from Long Island, New York, to Marin County, California, as well as sleek Manhattan apartments, to name just a few of his many projects.
Huniford, who is better known as Ford, was born in Syracuse, New York, and grew up in an agricultural area. His parents had a cabin on the St. Lawrence River, and he became fascinated by the idea of design when visiting some of the grand summer houses of the Thousand Islands — studying the stenciled burlap walls of one mansion’s entrance hall and the detailing of the fabric cushion covers on the wood-and-brass boats that ferried people between islands.
In search of adventure and opportunity, Huniford left home at 17, heading first to New York, then to Los Angeles and making several trips to Europe in his early 20s that he financed by waiting on tables back in Manhattan. He was especially taken with the modern architecture and industrial materials of the Maison de Verre in Paris, the Greek-influenced Villa Kérylos in the south of France, Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s architecture in Germany and the Baroque buildings of Rome.
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