Lilian August Defines What Inspires Her
December 18, 2009 - 11:50am

Lilian August: I live and breathe what I do. I’m an artist, and about 30 years ago, Imperial Wallcoverings found me and asked if I could design a wallcovering that looked like my work. Then one of my sons wrote his senior thesis in college on my business, and soon after our wallcoverings became No. 1 in sales in the country. So, what inspires me is that I’m in a family business.

But I’m also inspired by my customer. I like to think that I am giving them what they need. I just know my customer, who is fashion-forward and style-conscious. An important thing about me is that I don’t try to overreach. I try to give people exactly what I think they need. A lot of designers get caught up in ego. But I don’t have a lot of ego in my work. I’m practical and realistic. I live in the real world. I’m a small business owner and entrepreneur, and if you’re not realistic, you don’t last.

Our business is based in Connecticut and I grew up in Philadelphia, so I’m very familiar with the whole townhouse concept. I was a student of city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. I love antique buildings and building preservation, and I think there’s an edgy way to take this urban environment, twist it and make it a little cleaner. That’s what the new collection for Currey & Co. is about. Each piece is beautiful on its own, but each has an antique building as a sort of backdrop. It’s a mixture of old and new.

One piece in the collection is alabaster — the Farrington. It has a beautiful alabaster turning, and it’s tall. People just love beautiful, natural stone that looks expensive. The suggested retail is around $740, so it’s a bargain — real alabaster with a cream silk shade. I like designing things with beautiful materials. My customers feel that they are getting a good value.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to design the chandeliers. The chandeliers are fun because glamour is in, and they’re all glamorous. The lamps add another layer to the collection, and to a room. You have some simple forms with antique references.

I am constantly designing. I have such a backlog of favorite things. I’m inspired by everything I see, at all times, everywhere. I just bring it all down to full-room settings. I’m a history nut, and I love color. I collect antique references and have done so for decades. So, I really don’t look to nature for my influences and my inspiration. I look to the whole history of the decorative arts.

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