Stan Topol is a designer who has intrigued me for years. While growing up in Atlanta, I knew him "Elton John's designer." This was back in the late 1980s or early 90s, and for a Southern city that was starting to boom, Elton buying a high-rise apartment in Buckhead was huge- really huge. And that, to me, made Stan huge too. But what really did it for me was something that happened during the '96 Olympics. I remember driving through one of the busiest intersections in Atlanta, and standing high alongside the road was a billboard featuring an Amex ad. But this wasn't any ordinary Amex ad. Oh, no. It had Stan Topol leaning back with his arm draped over a chair, flashing a grin. And then it said "Buckhead is my neighborhood. This is my card.... Stan Topol, Cardmember since 1984." Now seriously, how great is that?! How many interior designers do you know who have been featured on a huge billboard smack dab in the middle of a metropolitan city?
Flash forward to 2011 when I recently got to help produce a House Beautiful shoot of Stan's Midtown Atlanta office. I know that you rarely see offices in House Beautiful, but this one is completely different. First, it looks more like a home, a very chic one. The office is filled with classic pieces like Bielecky Brothers cane furniture, glass tables and lamps, and wonderful artwork. And these are pieces, mind you, that Stan has had for years. Just goes to show that good design never goes out of style. But what also captivated me about the space is Billy Baldwin's influence on it. Stan was an assistant to Baldwin and learned a great deal from the master. You can see bits of the Baldwin look throughout the office, but Stan certainly has put his mark on the decor as well.
The article highlights many of Stan's design rules and secrets, but if there is one thing that I learned from it, it's that the classic contemporary American look from the 1960s and 70s still looks positively au courant in 2011.
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of the May issue of House Beautiful.
Stan with his English Cocker Spaniels, Oliver Twister and Oskar North.
A sitting area in Stan's office. The throw pillow is embroidered with Stan's motto: "Having style doesn't mean one has to be stylish."
All photos by Thomas Loof, House Beautiful, May 2011.