Photo courtesy of The Devine Life
Parker Bowie Larson is the Market Director for Architectural Digest, a dream job for sure.
An arbiter of great taste, fun, and flair, Parker talks with us about the hottest upcoming trends and how she knows a good thing when she sees one.
Parker on Inspiration
What triggers your inspiration? Do you sense it before you see it, or is it more a reaction to something because it's just too good, so "right" for right now, or is it something different?
It's more of a reaction to when I see something and I just know that it's right. I'm always looking for something unique that isn't everywhere else on the market.
Have you always been able to spot trends, discern top quality from mediocre average, and pinpoint what feels special instead of ho-hum?
My "eye" was cultivated at a young age, mostly by my grandmother. She is the embodiment of good taste, and she knows the best sources. She always says that travel is important for your education, and she would take us to places like the Greenbrier by Dorothy Draper and Keswick Hall by Laura Ashley and point out what was good about the decorating and what wasn't. She is never afraid to look at the back of a plate to see who it's made by!
You've noted that "pretty is back." What are some favorite new products on your radar?
I love the collaborations Moda Operandi has been doing with tastemakers like Julia Berger and Martina Mondadori. They are really working on expanding their home line, and they have some exciting new collaborations coming up. Artemest, which is one of my favorite online sources but may not be as well known, is going to be opening a location in the U.S. this fall. Design duo, Tilton Fenwick, is launching their second fabric collection with Duralee. It's inspired by Portugal, is very colorful, and has some beautiful patterns. And Nina Campbell is introducing some exceptional passementerie for Osborn & Little that I'm excited about.
What new trends do you think we'll be seeing more of in the coming months?
Historic Inspiration — companies have been looking to their archives and bringing back rich patterns like brocades, damasks, and chinoiserie but updating them in bright colors. Architectural details like arches and molding are popping up as motifs for furniture, rugs, tabletop, and wallpaper. Exotic tile is also big as inspiration for fabrics, furniture, and wallpaper. I love Helen Jon's Hanalei print, which reminds me of a Moroccan floor!
Parker on Entertaining
You find the most beautiful tableware and fabrics. What would your ideal summertime entertaining tablescape look like? What would you serve and whom would you invite?
I always love the theme of a summer garden party! My Richard Ginori Oriente Italiano china accented with wicker placemats, serveware, and hurricanes, would be beautiful on a green patterned tablecloth. (I would do maybe a trellis pattern or a custom fabric!) As the centerpiece, I would have flowers and greenery mixed with the wicker hurricanes and tea lights. I would keep it casual and just invite a group of friends.
Generations' priorities shift and change. Do you think that the same rules our grandmothers followed for entertaining apply to women (and men) today? What are your favorite tips to entertain graciously?
Oh, definitely, I have learned so much from my grandmother on entertaining and still do! Here are some of my favorite tips from her for more formal dinner parties:
Always have place cards, as guests should know where they are supposed to go. You don't want to have any awkwardness when it's time to sit down! My grandmother uses them even when it's just a family dinner.
A beautiful floral arrangement makes a table. I personally like to get cut flowers versus arrangements as I think they look more natural.
Don't be afraid to bring out your crystal, china and silver when entertaining. They are there to be used!
Favorite go-to recipe?
When it's summer, we always grill out. Marinated flank steak with grilled vegetables and a salad is one of our favorites.
Parker on... Parker
How would you describe your personal style? We sense some deep southern roots, boundless femininity, and a nod to the modern.
I was lucky enough to be given some beautiful antique pieces from my North Carolinian grandmother when we bought our house, and I have loved pairing them with more modern silhouettes to give a more eclectic feel. My southern roots definitely play a large role in my aesthetic as I love using color and printed fabrics in my decorating.
Has your style and/or way of entertaining changed since becoming a mom?
To keep my more aesthetically conservative husband happy, I stuck with blue and white as the major color scheme for our home. However, when we found out we were having a girl, I used that as an excuse to start bringing more pink into our lives. I painted one of our guest rooms raspberry pink, even though a few people questioned me, including the painters. "Are you sure? This is such a loud color," but in the end, it turned out beautifully and is one of our favorite rooms! After that success, I have been slowly adding more — hot pink embroidered Euro shams with a matching duvet, pink monogrammed towels in the bathroom, etc., and to my surprise, my husband admitted one day that he actually likes the pink. Don't tell him I told you that though!
Parker on Beach Living
Kiawah Island - I grew up going there and I love going back every summer!
Beach towel or beach blanket?
I featured the zebra beach towel by Maslin & Co. back in 2012 when I was at ELLE DECOR, and it is still one of my favorites. It has the silhouette and size of a hide rug, and not only does it look chic, but it is soft and comfortable, too.
Beach read? Magazine, romance, mystery, or nothing at all?
Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors, and I have read her books several times. I love that they're quick reads keeps you on the edge of your toes, wondering who did it?
Picnic to pack for the perfect beach day?
I love ending the day with a glass of rosé on the beach!
Favorite Helen Jon?
My Helen Jon canvas tote bag, which I use to go to the beach in the summer, and then, crazy enough, I keep it by my fireplace filled with wood in the winter!
Favorite view, sunrise or sunset?
My husband and I go out to Locust Valley on Long Island on weekends, and I watch the sunset over the bay almost every night I am out there. I've started taking our ten-month-old daughter, and she loves it, too. It never gets old!
Thank you, Parker! You have such creative ideas and fresh twists on the traditional. So fun — we loved getting to know you better!