My Interview with Carl Dellatore, Editor of ‘Interior Design Master Class’ from Rizzoli

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I first met Carl Dellatore three years ago this month; after having followed his blog for some time I’d asked him to visit with me at my office to talk about the work he was doing around developing content strategies. We’ve been working together ever since.

At the time, in addition to working with designers and vendors on crafting digital presences that advance their brands, Carl expressed a wish to study design formally, but was challenged by how to go back to school at his age. I made the suggestion that he begin with Edith Wharton’s The Decoration of Houses first published in 1897 — still widely regarded as the first book to read when embarking on a career in interior decoration.

What follows is a Q&A that explains what happened next…

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A Brooklyn Heights dining room featured in my chapter on ‘Alchemy’   Photo credit Thomas Loof

GG: Just exactly how did you go from designing textiles to a consulting career focused on content/brand strategy?

CD: When I moved to New York in the early 80’s I worked for an apparel textile design company that a friend managed; it seemed a logical progression from art school in Pennsylvania. I was also working with an interior designer named Gerry Murphy helping to manage his project schedule.

A decade went by and I found myself opening a curtain and upholstery workroom in Chelsea, as well as starting a line of textiles. Before long I met several of the people working for Martha Stewart’s magazine ‘Living’ — and began producing product for editorials. I also became a recurring guest on her television show as the textile guy.

That led to a meeting with Marian McEvoy at House Beautiful, and to the column ‘Swatch Watch’ that I worked to produce with Carolyn Sollis and Elaine Wrightman. It ran consecutively for 36 months, and was eventually compiled into my first book The Fabric Style Book. Working with the talented teams at MSLO and HB gave me an education in creating content.

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Interior by Steven Gambrel, from his chapter on ‘Authenticity’    Photo credit Eric Piasecki

GG: But what set off the switch from workroom owner and textile designer to content strategist?

CD: In 2 words: the recession. When the banking industry collapsed in 2008, it took my businesses with it, and I found myself in need of a reinvention.

I established my blog, and began writing about what I was learning about crafting content from some of my favorite sources: Michael Hyatt and Seth Godin; the entire staff at Copyblogger, The Content Marketing Institute, and Social Media Examiner.

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Interior by Stephen Sill, from his chapter on ‘Aspiration’    Photo credit François Halard

GG: I remember the day I recommended you read The Decoration of Houses — can you explain how you got from that Wharton’s book to Interior Design Master Class?

CD: The Decoration of Houses is certainly a fascinating book, and one that has many salient points that remain viable today. But I began wondering, just exactly what would a book based loosely on Wharton and Codman’s volume look like in the 21st century, and further: What if I were to be able to coral the finest designers in America to help me produce it?

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Interior by Alexa Hampton, from her chapter on ‘Tradition’    Photo credit Steve Freihon

GG: And how did you utilize your study of content strategies for the new book?

CD: That’s a complex question, but it really comes down to what I call the ‘tentpoles of content that connects’: solving problems; education; promoting something of value; and sharing aspirational ideas.

In the case of ‘Interior Design Master Class’, I chose to focus on education — the idea being that a collective survey of the ideas espoused by the finest designers in America would constitute a treatise on design in the early 21st century — one that might endure in the same way Wharton and Codman’s book has for 119 years. It was an ambitious undertaking, but the design community across the country rallied behind me and supported my efforts.

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 Interior by Barry Dixon, from her chapter on ‘Relationships’    Photo credit Edward Addeo

GG: So what’s next now that Interior Design Master Class is complete?

CD: I’m going to be traveling around the United States in the coming months for book events, which I’m most excited about. In tandem I’m finishing work on a book I was asked to produce and edit for Peter Marino’s new building on the Highline in New York.

In January I’ll start work on my next book; it’s an exciting follow-up project that I’m chomping at the bit to begin. Additionally, I’ll continue to consult with designers and brands. I find it to be exciting work as technological advances and social media provide remarkable opportunities for communicating with an audience, and advancing business objectives.

glenn-gissler-2-copy-2 Interior by Glenn Gissler, from my chapter on ‘Alchemy’    Photo credit Gross & Daley

GG: So how would someone contact you? Can you share an email address?

CJ: Absolutely. My email is masterclass@cjdellatore.com, and you can follow me on Facebook on my author’s page, or on Instagram: @carldellatore.

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One final note: If you’re going to be in New York on Thursday October 13th, you’re invited to attend the book launch party at the Studio at One King’s Lane. RSVP listed below. I hope to see you there!

Glenn

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