A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Baltimore designer Patrick Sutton about his then-upcoming book, Storied Interiors, before a packed house in the Stark showroom at the Washington Design Center.
Fast forward to this week, and the book was finally published so I could have my own copy:
In the forward, Patrick talks about the genesis of the book, having grown up traveling the world with his father, Horace Sutton, who was exploring far-flung countries and cities and crafting stories about their landscape, history and culture for readers back home.
Patrick pays homage to his father’s metier through design—though if he’d chosen to be a writer instead, he would undoubtedly be as great as his Dad:
There is a latin term, genius loci, which means, roughly, ‘the guardian spirit of a place.’ It is this spirit my father was searching for. What draws people to the energy of Manhattan, or to the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains? What is it about the iconic red tile roofs of Florence that makes the city so unmistakably Florentine? …
… Like my father, I have become a storyteller of sorts. I seek out the spirit that inhabits a place and weave in the hopes, dreams and aspirations of my clients in order to craft a tale that is theirs alone. While my father used the printed word to transport his readers, I use color, form, texture, and design to do the same.
There was a reception this week at one of the storied interiors he features in his book: A Georgetown manse that serves as an elegant tribute to America and all its opportunity. The owner, the founder and CEO of a global corporation, built the company as a teenager in his grandmother’s basement not far from this house. He asked Patrick to design it as an embassy of sorts for guests, visitors and company executives. Patrick, working with architect Ankie Barnes of Barnes Vanze Architects, produced this incredible transformation, both in structure and detail:
Almost everywhere you turn, there is a portrait of a founding father, and a depiction of the American flag. The references are symbolic, too, as with this stunning marble stair hall, designed with marble taken from the same quarry in Vermont as the stone used to build the Jefferson Memorial:
[This is a self-supporting elliptical stair. I helped Ankie write this blog post about how it was designed and built.]
“You would want to express your pride in the country that gave you an opportunity to recognize the history and traditions of its capital city,” Patrick writes about how he helped his client weave the design story for this home, which was once owned by Ambassador David Bruce and his wife Evangeline, one of the city’s most sparkling and prolific hostesses.
At the same time, you would wish to express your youthful exuberance and innovative attitude. And finally, you would want to share the warmth of your hospitality with your distinguished national and international guests to build strong and lasting friendships.
Indeed, there’s nothing that shows youthful exuberance and hospitality better than this underground speakeasy, where Patrick notably played pool with his client until 4 in the morning one night. I could easily stay up late here:
The kitchen, too, is a picture of modernity.
The six bedrooms upstairs are each dedicated to a different president, and in them Patrick deftly combines classicism with contemporary design. George Washington, of course, is reserved for the master suite:
Home & Design magazine published a feature on the home this summer, and it covers a lot more detail about how Patrick and Ankie navigated this massive renovation. It’s among the 10 private homes Patrick profiles in the book. There’s also a section dedicated to his commercial projects—notably, the Sagamore Pendry Hotel in Baltimore along with several other restaurants in that city.
Before our talk at the design center I asked him whether he take a different approach between residential and commercial. “I love designing residences because you’re so connected to the people you’re designing for,” he said. “Hospitality is not that dissimilar,” he added, but when the occupant is there for just two hours as in a restaurant, or two days in a hotel, he goes for bigger, bolder, more memorable gestures. “The theater of it is why people get so excited about going to hotels or restaurants that they like,” he said.
I hope you’ll get the book and indulge in his imagination.