Tim Street-Porter and Annie Kelly
Photographer Tim Street-Porter and writer Annie Kelly make one designing couple (in the best sense of the word). They have collaborated on 6 books on architecture and design, the latest of which, Litchfield Style (excerpted in the April issue of CTC&G), is available now. Here they discuss what they love about Connecticut, living on both coasts, and where they’d like to go to next.
You two have been all over the world. Is there one place you love most? It is hard to choose. Connecticut in summer is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, but we also love San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, Paris, Bali, Java, India and Tim’s home country, Australia.
What is it like working with your spouse on professional projects? We primarily collaborate on books. Otherwise Tim has his freelance photography business in a historic building on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, while I decorate, write for international magazines, review books and write decorator profiles for the art and furniture website, 1stdibs.com. We have separate work spaces, but enjoy the adventure of discovering great new places for our books together.
You’ve just written a new book, Litchfield Style (Rizzoli, 2011). What do you like about living in Connecticut? Well there are so many great decorators living in Connecticut, undoubtedly attracted by the wonderful landscape and the many beautiful period houses. We by no means covered them all in the new book.
You have homes in Litchfield and LA. Are they similar or is the design and decoration different? Each place has a radically different style of architecture. Our 18th-century Connecticut house has American and English furniture from that period (and earlier), while our Venetian-Gothic style house in the Hollywood Hills is furnished with French and Italian antiques, with a few Moroccan pieces mixed in.
What is it like living on both coasts? How do you split your time? It depends on what we are doing. We might have book signings in either place, or Tim might have work in Los Angeles or New York. I always need to go into New York, as I am working on an apartment near Central Park. As Connecticut summers are so beautiful, we try to base ourselves there as much as we can during those months.
Tim, do you have a favorite image? I was very happy to have recently photographed Doris Duke's Shangri La in Hawaii for a new Rizzoli book. All of the photographs I took are now my favorites!
Tim, when did you first pick up a camera? What was the subject? It began with a journalistically-inspired trip to Paris helped by a friend there, fashion designer Emmanuelle Khanh. Through her I heard about some interesting design events there, in particular a line of radical transparent inflatable furniture then being launched by her husband, Qasar Khanh. I printed those photos in my kitchen darkroom at home in London, and took them into Queen magazine, now Harpers & Queen. The art editor really liked them and printed them as a four-page story for his new Environment column. So overnight I became a photographer.
Annie, you’re also a decorator. How does that give you a different perspective when it comes to writing about design? It really helps, as I can always understand what the decorator is trying to achieve, and sometimes how hard it is to pull it all together!
What books are on your bedside table? The Alice behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester, Makers of Modern Architecture by Martin Filler, and The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read, and Remember by Nicolas Carr.
What challenges does each new book/project bring? Getting the right mix of houses together to make each book interesting.
How do you decide what to write about next? Wherever our current enthusiasms take us!
Tim, I’ve read so many times that you fell in love with LA. What drew you to it? Even though LA felt like it was right on the extreme edge of the civilized world, far from Europe, New York and everywhere else, it still had this enormous appeal for me, a place where interesting things were happening.
When and where are you the happiest? Having breakfast at the Villa Made, part of the Novus Taman Bebek hotel in Sayan, Bali, which overlooks the fabulous Ayung river valley, where we stay for a month every year.
You can only do one more project―what do you shoot/write about? Well, we have never been to Morocco!
photograph by joanie spear