Monday, June 24, 2013

Remembering Joe Nye



I was heartbroken to learn that Joe Nye, a designer whom I considered to be a friend, died last week. I got to know Joe about six years ago when he gave my sister and me the grand tour of Los Angeles. It was then that I learned what a kind, gregarious, and generous person he was. I remember a day spent seeing the city's design hot-spots, chatting about Sister Parish and our favorite fabrics, and relaxing at his lovely, chic, jewel-box of an apartment in Beverly Hills. (You can see photos of his apartment, below.)  It was a day I won't forget.

Over the years, I enjoyed seeing his work featured in magazines such as House Beautiful, and I was thrilled when his first book, Flair: Exquisite Invitations, Lush Flowers, and Gorgeous Table Settings, was published. It seemed appropriate that Joe's book was about entertaining. After all, he was warm and hospitable and cared a great deal about creating beauty, both for himself and for others. He had great, effortless style, and he was a good old-fashioned decorator in the best sense of the profession. He loved Chinoiserie, antiques, modern art, books, Dodie Thayer lettuceware, Mottahedeh Blue Canton, and all of the other time-honored things that I also love. Perhaps that is why we always had so much to talk about.

I will miss visiting him, and my future trips to Los Angeles just won't be the same without our get-togethers.  At least we have his work, and his book, to remind us of what a talented man Joe Nye truly was.














Image of Joe from his book, Flair, Rizzoli 2010. Images of Joe's apartment from House Beautiful, August 2009, Roger Davies photographer.

42 comments:

  1. What a wonderful tribute to a marvelous designer! Thank you!

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  2. So very sad to read this! Joe was such an incredible talent and a lovely person that I got to know during my New York years and we had dinner a couple of times. Always fun and charming, Joe certainly had flair so his book was aptly titled. Thank you for celebrating his talent. It was his beach cottage that was published years and years ago (early 2000's maybe) that I fell in love with and that introduced me to his great style.

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  3. Sad news indeed, what a wonderful memory you have with him! I have nearly everything of his that was published in my 'clipping' files - what a great talent to have lost.

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  4. This news has stunned me. Only this past weekend I was admiring one of Joe Nye's designs for Circa Lighting, and thinking
    how skilled he was at blending the past with the present. His work had a degree of "humanity" that is seldom seen nowadays.

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  5. Joe was so gifted and possessed such talent and style. What all of his work had in common, I think, was that it looked so natural. There was nothing contrived about his work.

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  6. I think he was one of our best and brightest, rest in peace dear Joe.

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  7. Joe was one of Mecox LA's first clients, and always made a point to mention us fondly in print or to his clients...we loved Joe, and will miss him greatly.

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  8. Great post, very memorable interiors from this man.
    RIP :)
    -LR

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  9. Jennifer Dengel5:28 PM

    So sorry to read this. I was such a fan of Joe Nye's work. I can't tell you how many times I pored over images of his beautiful rooms and how much I enjoyed his book Flair...

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  10. How awful! What a great talent he was....I was also a huge fan! xx.DT

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  11. His gorgeous home in the HB August 2009 remains one of my all-time favorites. I think I've memorized every inch of that jewel-box! My condolences on the loss of your friend, a brilliant and much-admired man.

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  12. Joe didn't respond to my recent email, and now how I wish I had called. I'm straight and follow Christ, yet my fondness for Joe was profound. We worked closely together, created some amazing results and had deep conversations about successes, failures, life and truth. It's difficult to describe the sense of loss, of knowing that our conversations are over. Lord, convey peace to Joe.

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    1. Extraordinary comment. Denunciation and praise all rolled into one heartfelt eulogy!
      How is your own sexual orientation or religious beliefs in any way relevant to the
      matter? It diminishes Joe Nye's lifestyle while extolling his virtues as a designer.
      I call it Bad Taste.

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    2. "Straight and follow Christ" -- wildly inappropriate. Not to mention there is NOTHING incompatible about being gay and Christian.

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    3. It must be profoundly confounding to find your religion/sexual orientation saying how could this gay man be so like me? The Peak of Chic, of all blogs is not political. But with so many in the design world being gay it would be shameful to let a remark like your stand without protest. Beauty knows no sex or sexual orientation, no religion, no politics. It speaks for itself. It is enough in itself.

      Today the Supreme Court has ruled for gay equality and has said that love is love. The world can't have too much of that.


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    4. I suppose we have all quickly typed out a comment and not realized how insipid it was until after hitting SEND. It is particularly disturbing when a statement in such poor taste, such as that from this original commenter, comes from a 'design professional'. Perhaps, it will be a lesson learned.

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  13. thank you for this wonderful tribute to Joe. He was a lovely gentle man and i am so sad that he has gone. He had wonderful taste and a wonderful eye and his talent will be missed.

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  14. Joe was a kind and thoughtful man with a razor sharp wit, that made any moment spent with him a great memory. He will be missed.- Mark Cutler

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  15. I have many of the above pictures above saved in my file of favourites. I didn't even register some were by the same designer, nor have I seen a picture of Joe Nye. Thank you for this tribute.

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  16. Anonymous1:41 AM

    Very sad indeed.

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  17. I just burst into tears when I opened your blog post today. What a darling he was.......(I just saw him 6 months ago?? Lordy!! it sure feels like it!!)

    We have lost a darling.....and there aren't too many of them!

    Never competitive; always enthusiastic....encouraging to other decorators......OH JOE!! HOW DARE YOU LEAVE US SO SOON!!

    NO FAIR!! THIS IS TERRIBLE!!!! WHO SAID YOU COULD?????? YIKES!!!

    MY HEART HURTS.

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  18. I've been away from the world for a few days and opened my eyes today this most sad news. I've been a fan of his for a long time. Just last week I mentioned in a comment in Cote de Texas where someone had painted out the "dated" ceiling color, that I was planning to paint my new living room ceiling the same color saying if that color were good enough for Joe Nye, it's good enough for me. In fact his living room has been a general inspiration. Mr. Nye might not recognize it, but I feel the connection, and I will treasure it.

    Flair was the perfect name for his book and his life. In this age of pale ghost rooms and "curated" (but seemingly the same) objects, Joe Nye stood out with a luminous difference. For all of the people who retreat into sameness, let there be more Joe Nyes in the world.

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    1. This is beautifully written; and rings absolutely true!

      Joe was (I can hardly type that); the opposite of "branding"; and all that "million dollar decorator" garbage. What the hell is "curating" ? In someone's house?? WHAT?????

      He was funny, elegant, supremely talented; and (hugely important, FUN)!!! (I am seriously worried about the "fun factor")

      Brooke Giannetti said to me; "I will miss his razor sharp wit"! He was so witty; and never at anyone else's expense! He loved his work; and he was so good at it. I can only hope for some more Joe Nyes in the world. He was a rare and wonderful man!

      I knew him on Larchmont , too! From the very beginning!!

      I really just can't stand it!!

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  19. Anonymous11:38 AM

    what a good idea to put a floor lamp at bedside!

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  20. Such a dear heart and great talent... rest in peace sweet soul.

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  21. I am heartbroken, he was always elegant, funny and REAL. Long ago, when he first worked for Suzanne Rheinstein at her ORIGINAL Hollyhock way back when on Larchmont before his Star rose high into Heavens, he added that touch of Southern Gentleman mixed with 18thC repartee. Years later, he ventured on his own yet still a very very Swellegant Soul. He worked with many who travel the upper circle of wealth, never boasting, always open to suggestion and never HAUGHTY. I will cherish all the pieces I collected thru him that live with me daily...Bless his memory, Bless his Fragility, Bless his Creativity but above ALL Bless his HONESTY in a Trade filled with many filled with Self-importance and little talent but that of copyist!

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  22. So sorry to hear about Joe. What a wonderful gentleman and talent. He will be missed.

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  23. Lee Ann Wyatt9:32 PM

    I had the honor of working for Joe the past 4 years. I can truly say that what I learned from him has been the most inspirational years of my life. He was fun and witty and warm, he loved to dress beautifully and his charm and etiquette were pristine. His clients loved him like he was a family member and they trusted him to make their homes magical. We were both from small towns in Nebraska, we shared a beautiful connection....I feel like I have lost a part of my heart and will think about Joe and miss him everyday for the rest of my life! Thank You my sweetheart for making my life so much brighter...I love you with all my heart....RIP Joe xoxox

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  24. Thank you everybody for your thoughts about Joe. I hope that he knew how much we all admired him.

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  25. I am heartbroken. Thank you Joe, for making our home the beautiful and comfortable place it is. I'm glad you came into our lives and "educated" us. We will miss you.

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  26. Such an extreme heartbreak. My husband Todd and I have lost one of the dearest friends we have known during these past 35+ years. Our lives will never be the same without Joe, much like our lives were never quite the same after time spent with Joe. We loved him for his passion, compassion, genius, his wit, infectious laugh, endless energy, and bottomless hospitality. His God given gift for seeking and creating those finer things in life, somehow never interfered with his ability to embrace and enjoy life's more simple, common pleasures. To say we learned and gained so much from having Joe in our lives is nothing but an understatement. No one could fill a space with more energy in a shorter time -- be it the conversation--or the decor. He was a long distance friend who was always there for us, always hungry for news about our lives, our family and his hometown. We would give anything to share just one more hug, another tale, another adventure, and to shed some more of those wonderful tears of laughter! Many have expressed appropriate wishes for peaceful rest, and I will add to that sentiment: May God assign Joe many lovely parties to throw, and countless rooms to decorate. And it will of course be said; All was a job well done, Joe. We love you so much dear friend, and we will miss you always and always and always. Lois and Todd

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  27. From the Belgian loafers to the pocket puffs, he was style personified. When we first met, he called himself a decorator, not designer...such a down to earth, witty, charming guy. He became a great friend, sounding board, and the best to "dish" with...I loved him and will miss him terribly. He was an original. I am so fortunate to have known him.

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  28. Beautiful tribute to a huge talent and by all accounts, a wonderful human being. I had a friend who knew him well and spoke of him so highly. It sounds like he touched many lives both through his talent and kind heart. I hope his legacy will continue to shine bright through all the beautiful spaces he created.

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  29. I am shocked to hear this news. I recall his first days at Hollyhock. A refuge from all the nonsense. I had the pleasure of working with Joe during the Hollyhock period, where we fought endlessly...yet he never left the conversation without clarification...(are you sure you did not work for Ralph Lauren? he would say...leaving me alone to do more). Joe had the ability to float effortlessly from conversation to conversation between author, vendor, Princess, Suzanne and the interns without leaving any of them feeling unfulfilled. His visual memory, ability to recite verbatim the "do's" and "do not's" inspired many a young designer. He knew what needed to be done and he did it with effortless style. I doubt he ever perspired and yet ten thousand square feet of Regency, Chinoiserie, concrete Faux Bois, shell incrusted Demi Lune's, William Yeoward caviar servers, decanter stoppers, anything "Isdra" (NO, Sooozanne its NOT "thistle"..."THISTLE" is "Saint Louis"!) never remained in one place for more than an hour. My heart is heavy today as I learn of his departure. We will miss you, sweet boy from Alaska with silly shoes. We will miss you terribly.

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  30. I was fortunate to spend an hilarious evening in Joe's company years ago at a party. What a lovely man he was, and how sad I am to learn of his passing. Reggie

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  31. John Dolan8:10 PM

    I was stunned to learn of Joe's passing. I knew Joe professionally and his talent and artistry always inspired me. He had an amazing sense of using color and texture in creating beautiful rugs and carpets. I will remember Joe as a man with alot style and panache.

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  32. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Joe was a high school friend of mine and he played the French Horn in band. I didn't keep track of him after that. Rest in peace. It was a life well lived.

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  33. Anonymous7:39 PM

    Joe, I truly miss you. You were always so great to work with and know. You gave me such great support when times were tough in my personal life. I will never forget you.

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  34. Anonymous12:58 PM

    A charming man that from the my 25 year showroom worker perspective was a pleasure to assist... May you rest well

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  35. Anonymous2:48 AM

    I will always love and miss you...much love, your cousin...

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  36. Barbara Vandeman2:41 PM

    I was just speaking about Joe this morning and since we hadn't spoken since earlier in the year, I went on-line to get an update on what he's been up to. Shocked and stunned. I had no idea. Joe was such a special, extraordinary, charming, creative man. He was a very dear friend, he did a masterful job of my home and was instrumental in some of the most precious memories of my wedding. I can't believe he's gone. RIP in peace dear Joe. I love you.

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  37. Anonymous7:25 PM

    Came to your blog today after reading the great article in the NYTimes -- and saw this...I recognized the images because I tore them out of House Beautiful and pasted them into my scrapbook. They're astonishing rooms, because who would have thought to pull those things into the room and combine into those vignettes? But the crazy thing is it's not off-putting-- it's the opposite. When I saw those photos and the ones of his living room with that stunning bookcase and the turquoise accents-- I just wanted to go visit!! Those beautiful, lively spaces had to be a reflection of his individuality guided by - it appears to me- a real understanding of space, structure, interval and color. Just remarkable.

    So sorry for his friends and family and for the loss of this unique much-loved man.


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