This exclusive interview with renowned designer John Saladino was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in Santa Barbara during October 2011.
Interview with John Saladino
As you have a Masters Degree in Fine Art from Yale University and practice as an architect how does that influence your work?
It influences my work in a number of ways on a number of related levels. I am still painting with a museum show of my work slated in the future. I am designing many public spaces and building many houses. My education is a well that I drink from every day and all lessons I learned so long ago continue to aid me.
Do you manage the volume of an architectural space as you would an empty canvas of similar proportions?
Yes, what I learned at Yale is what you put onto a canvas is as important as what you leave off. I see every elevation as a painting. I believe when you walk into a building you experience every aspect of it. I do not want only one or two high design spaces. No matter where, a closet, an elevator, or huge lobbies, all should be as equally beautiful as a Japanese box. I have used the same design approach with my furniture collection. All the furniture we manufacture has been refined and edited many times before it arrives on the showroom floor.
Your work tends even in its Minimal treatments to reflect sensitivity to Classicism. Is this true?
When examining great architecture, the term Classical means timeless! The first Egyptian architect was Imhotep. His staggering simplicity is a great example of ancient “Minimalism.” Palladio also designed simple buildings. Whether playing tennis or designing architecture, “what you leave out”; again, is as important as “what you put in”! The “spaces in between” must have a dialogue as significant as the foreground. I don’t believe in just foreground and background. I see spaces as homogenous! You cannot see a forest as only trees, but rather, the trees and the spaces in between them.
You may have one architect from history design your ideal space who is it? In addition, why would you select that particular individual?
It would be the great Palladio, the 16th Century Italian architect. He spread the power of Venice to the Veneto and the world. He was very smart. He built using vernacular materials. He used humble stucco and brick with classical Roman orders and proportions. His work has influenced every Post Office and every Capital and countless houses in America.
How does light affect your color choices?
In my first book, “Style by Saladino”, I stated clearly that “Light is the Prime Mover.” I believe no space is worthy of human occupation without natural light. The light of day alters completely from one place to another. The beige that you see in Rome is not the same beige you see in Los Angeles. Our surroundings reflect light back on to our color choices. If a room is painted red the light in that room will make a pinkish floor. One must also remember that people also play their role, people are color in a room.
If you take a final element out of a space, what does it normally turn out to be?
It always turns out to be some furnishing, usually an accessory.
How do you feel emotionally once a project is finished?
I am a very fortunate person, because people commission me to build my dreams. From the beginning, all of my work has been a passage toward serenity.
I seek an emotional design experience. Interior Design is more than decorating and architecture is more than “keeping rain off your head!"
The above interview with John Saladino 2011 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission.