Written By: Leise Trueblood

This August, the Nantucket Historical Association hosts its major annual fundraiser, Nantucket by Design.

In advance of the highly-anticipated design luncheon, N Magazine caught up with keynote speaker David Kleinberg of David Kleinberg Design Associates.

N MAGAZINE: How would you describe your design style?

KLEINBERG: I would describe my style as being based in tradition filtered through the lease of modern experience, it is I hope of this time but not faddish. I strive in my design to achieve a balance between comfort and style, and suitability.

N MAGAZINE: Where do you find inspiration? Do you look to artists (musically, performing, visual or otherwise)?

KLEINBERG: My inspiration always starts from historic precedents, books are my go-to source of inspiration. Travel is always a great source of inspiration; my next destination will be Japan where I haven’t been in 35 years.

N MAGAZINE: If there is one design element that changes the feel of a room instantly, what would you say it is?

KLEINBERG: The one design element that changes the feel of a room for me would be wall treatment, color, pattern or paneling.

N MAGAZINE: Which designer has most impacted your career?

KLEINBERG: The designer that most impacted my career is obviously Albert Hadley. I had the great privilege of working with both Sister Parish and Albert Hadley during my 16-year tenure at Parish Hadley but Albert Hadley was most influential, sitting opposite him for all those years discussing design options was invaluable and enlightening.

N MAGAZINE: How do you successfully incorporate antiques into modern design?

KLEINBERG: I have always enjoyed mixing antiques in my design schemes, the mix has always depended on scale of the pieces relative to each other, a sensitivity to the materials of each piece and a respect for the contrast of periods represented.

N MAGAZINE: Is there a current trend in interior design that you wish would disappear? 

KLEINBERG: I don’t follow the trends so wouldn’t know.

N MAGAZINE: What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?

KLEINBERG: I would advise a young designer to put the time in at the beginning necessary to learn your craft, a design school or apprenticeship, listen first, never stop looking.

N MAGAZINE: What is the most common mistake when designing a room? 

KLEINBERG: The most common mistake made when designing a room is making too many choices… edit!

N MAGAZINE: Is designing an island residence different than designing for other locations?

KLEINBERG: Designing an island residence is no different than designing an urban residence, in that you must take into account how people live in each environment, wherever it is… how they entertain, indoor or outdoor constraints and options, light and exposures, all of these factors come into play in every design project.

N MAGAZINE: If you could design for anyone in the world, who would it be?

KLEINBERG: I am not sure if I have a dream of designing for anyone in the world in particular, maybe someone like Thomas Jefferson who was inventive and tasteful and willing to take risks.

N MAGAZINE: What are you most proud of in your career? 

KLEINBERG: When I left Parish Hadley to start my own business in 1991 I only wanted to be as good a boss as Albert Hadley was. I am most proud that I have stayed true to that wish and try to encourage my team and partners who work with me every day and have been with me for many years to build our company to one that has endured and thrived in a competitive business.

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