Iris Apfel’s Five Golden Rules for Interior Design

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Fashion icon Iris Apfel is photographed for Avenue Magazine on February 13, 2014 in New York CityPhotography by Keith Major/Contour by Getty Images

The nonagenarian fashion icon has a wealth of experience in interiors too; as she launches a new collection of glasswares, she shares some advice

“Everybody wants instant everything, nobody wants to wait for anything, so they go and buy ready-made sofas and just throw an apartment together.” A sweeping generalisation? Maybe. But at 97 years young, icon of fashion and design Iris Apfel is number one on the list of people you should be taking style advice from.

While she doesn’t have an e-mail address (can you even imagine the bliss?), entrepreneur and tastemaker Apfel is more than happy to share her thoughts on interior design over the phone. As she celebrates the elegance of simplicity in a new creative partnership with global design brand Nude, we asked the outspoken queen of personal style to share her five golden rules for designing a home.

1. Go your own way

“First of all, do not follow trends.”

2. Embrace originality

“Express yourself, not what your neighbour has. There’s very little creativity left. Everybody copies everybody else. I don’t know whether everybody wants the same or the designers give it to them – I have no idea, I’ve been out of it for too long – but it’s very sad. It used to be that people wanted some individuality, so when you walk into an apartment you know whose apartment it is.”

3. Buy quality

“Buy the best possible quality you can get because furniture is made to last. When you get upholstery it should be well made so it doesn’t cave in, and buy fabrics that are of lasting quality. Quality has deteriorated dreadfully because no new people are coming into the trades and no good people want to apprentice.”

4. And if you can’t afford to, wait

“If you can’t afford something it’s better to leave empty space than to have a shoddy piece. When I was designing I would never buy a piece of furniture for a client that wasn’t perfect for the space. They wouldn’t like it because I made them wait, but they’d be very happy and grateful when we were done.”

5. Become a collector

“Your apartment should mirror your personality and it’s better to have a few things that are against the decorating rules (which I don’t think there should be any of anyway) than to have everything so perfect. When people come into my home they know that I live there. Everything I have is a favourite, everything in my house I love. I’m a collector and I’ve been collecting for years. I never had a coffee table and my grandmother, every time she visited, drove me crazy. Finally I bought a coffee table I didn’t really like just to take up space and I hated it, and it really cost me more money in the end because I had to get rid of it and buy another one.”

Iris Apfel’s collaboration with Nude is available to buy now.