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Vicente Wolf: Elements of Style, Part I

Modern life has moved us farther away from the elements. The luxuries of climate control and smartphone weather updates, even wind-resistant workout gear, ensure we’ll be ready for any surprises outdoors. But nature won’t be tamed and it will not be ignored. For his fourth book, revered interior designer Vicente Wolf explores this premise in design, in a raw and fascinating way. His recent tome The Four Elements of Design: Interiors Inspired by Earth, Water, Air and Fire (Rizzoli, 2016) is a visual journey inspired by these primary forces.

Featuring images taken by the author, a passionate photographer, this volume showcases projects as varied in style, texture, palette and location as influence. Following an illustrious 30-year-career, including honors as an Architectural Digest Top 100 Designer, Wolf’s work is synonymous with culture, sophistication and materiality. An irrepressible traveller and collector, Wolf is also a tastemaker of the highest order. For Part One of our profile on the designer, Wolf defines each element with a special look inside his latest tome and his own residence.


(Left) The New Book. (Right) Air Element. Photos: Vicente Wolf

PR: Tell us about your latest book.

VW: The book provides ways for the reader to explore what their personal point of view is in a room, and how the four elements — fire, air, water, earth — form the basic building blocks of great interior design.

PR: Why did you want to approach design via the four elements?

VW: I found that the four elements are a great way for clients to zero in on their personal design DNA.

PR: Can you explain what each element means to you personally in your life and also in your work? 

VW: The elements that speak most directly to my life, work and design sensibility are air and water. For example, my beach house in Montauk (Water) includes the project pictured on the cover of the book (Air). It’s a clean, fresh environment.

Air Element. Photo: Vicente Wolf

For me, air and water are the strongest influences. Air gives openness and a sense of lightness to a room, which I achieve by open furniture plans and using white in my backgrounds.

Water Element by Vicente Wolf

Water Element. Photo: Vicente Wolf

Water has a softness and sense of sensuality, which I bring to a room through the shapes of upholstery, which are more rounded and soft. I also use colors that reflect the different shades and tones I’ve observed on the beach.

Earth Element. Photo: Vicente Wolf.

Earth Element. Photo: Vicente Wolf

Earth brings a sense of grounding, comfort and security to a room. It works well in libraries and rooms where you want a sense of intimacy.

Fire Element. Photo: Vicente Wolf.

Fire Element. Photo: Vicente Wolf

Fire brings drama to a space. A sense of theatrics and spice works great in dining rooms, foyers and powder rooms.

For more inspiring images, pick up a copy of The Four Elements of Design, or one of Vicente Wolf’s three previous titles: Learning to See, Crossing Boundaries, and Lifting the Curtain on Design. You can also read Part II of our interview: Vicente Wolf: Wanderlust & Collecting.

Images courtesy of Vicente Wolf




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