Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Style Icon Interview: Eddie Ross


This afternoon, I had the pleasure of speaking with Eddie Ross, contestant on the second season of Bravo's Top Design, Senior Style Editor of Martha Stewart Living, and self-described jack of all trades. His blog, which includes photos of his incredible flea market transformations and informative lessons on things like flower arranging and preparing for a cocktail party has quickly become a favorite among bloggers.

Eddie's background includes culinary school, owning a catering company, and working for Food Network, House Beautiful, and Martha Stewart Living. He has a multitude of talents, but his passion is for helping people create a beautiful life without spending a fortune. I can honestly say that he is as sweet and gracious as he is talented. His beautiful design aesthetic, refreshing need to "make things pretty", and ability to see the beauty in everything are incredibly inspiring.

eddie ross

Eddie's Gorgeous Manhattan Apartment

La Dolce Vita: When did you first realize that you had a talent for design?

Eddie Ross: “I was working as a caterer in high school and would go into these houses in New Greenwich, Larchmont... big, grand Connecticut homes. I was in awe of the way those people lived. It was so inspiring to see what people could accomplish and how they lived with a lot of money. I thought to myself, 'I want to live that way, but I don't have a lot of money.' At that time, I started shopping thrift stores for antiques and started educating myself about fine porcelain, china, crystal, and silverware.”

LDV: Who or what inspires you the most?

ER: “My grandmother, Dottie was such a huge inspiration. She lived such a beautiful, refined life despite the fact that we didn’t come from gobs and gobs of money. My grandpa was a horticulturalist, and at age 81, he still works twice a week. On summer breaks, he would take two of the four boys in my family and give us projects like weeding, cleaning bushes, scrubbing terra cotta pots in greenhouse to prepare growing for spring. I now realize that he was giving us the jobs he didn't want to do. He taught me about flower arranging since he did the weekly arrangements for some of the grandest homes in Greenwich.”

eddie hydrangeas

Eddie picking some "end of season" hydrangeas

LDV: Do you have a favorite flower?

ER:I think white Casablanca lilies are amazing and I love Italian carnations. They’re like regular carnations, but double the size. You can bunch a lot of them together, in the same color, and they look fantastic on a long table. And they last forever.”

LDV: You have quite a knack for seeing the potential in ordinary objects and turning them into something extraordinary, like you did with your new secretary. Do you look for anything in particular when shopping for antiques or at a flea market?

ER: “I always tend to look for beauty in whatever I’m looking at. I’m always looking at the shape of it, the design, is it useful? Should I paint it? All furniture isn’t created equal; some solid pieces should only be refinished. People always go back and forth about whether or not you should paint these old pieces. What I paint is not antique quality. You have to think about what the piece will look like. Look past the hardware and the finish and think about the big picture.”

eddie ross secretary before

Eddie's Secretary Before

eddie ross secretary after

After: The secretary looks amazing with a fresh coat of paint, mirrored insets, and new hardware

LDV: What do you do with the flea market and thrift store finds you transform? You live in Manhattan where space is at a premium. Do you keep it all for yourself, give it as gifts, or use it for clients?

ER: “For me, flea marketing and thrift storing is so relaxing, I do it for fun; for the thrill of the hunt. You can’t go looking for something specific. When I shop, I edit what I buy. I do keep most things if I can edit them and find a place for them. Sometimes I give them as gifts. I switch my furniture out sometimes; mostly things like mirrors and side chairs. I have access to the basement in my building and store things down there. I like to call it my prop house. I keep everything labeled with Polaroid pictures. I’ll put things away for seasons and switch out cashmere blankets for lighter throws; same with china and silver. We’re purchasing a country house in January where I can store all of my props.”

eddie antiques

Eddie enjoying a day of shopping at Sage Street Antiques in Sag Harbor

LDV: What is your prized possession?

ER: “I have 2 sterling silver stuffing spoons that I bought at Portobello Road in London. I had so much trouble getting them through airport security, so they’re definitely a prized possession!”

LDV: You are a contestant on the second season of Bravo’s Top Design and are the definite favorite of many bloggers, including myself. Why did you decide to audition for the show?

ER: “My friend, Tori Mellott works for Domino Magazine and she was at cocktail party with a casting person from Bravo, who mentioned the show and asked her if she had anyone for it. She called me, and my partner, Jaithan and I filled out the application and created my audition video, Martha gave me a leave of absence, and afterwards, my job was waiting for me back home.”

LDV: What has it been like to be on the show and interact with design giants like Margaret Russell, Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, India Hicks, and Todd Oldham?

ER: “You know, I wasn’t star struck. I work in the industry. I know Kelly, I know Margaret, and I know Todd. It was weird having them act like they didn’t know me and having them critique me. I was just with Kelly and Margaret for the launch of Kelly’s new fabric line. I adore Kelly! She is amazing and she does it. Project after project after project. She is a true designer, she’s beautiful, and she is a true style icon.”

eddie ross2

Eddie, on Bravo's Top Design

LDV: So, last week on Top Design, you guys were asked to design store windows for some designers from the past seasons of Project Runway. What was it like working with Santino? Is he your favorite Project Runway designer ever?

ER: “I loved Santino and Christian because they kind of have snarky attitudes, like me. They’re funny, but serious when they need to be and they're extremely talented.

LDV: What other shows do you like to watch?

ER: "I’m addicted to the Rachel Zoe Project. I die. I die. She cracks me up to no end. She’s funny, has a great personality, and she is so passionate about what she does. I love people who have a passion for what they do. Rachel is passionate about making people look beautiful. Kelly, Christian, Santino…they’re all passionate about what they do. I have a passion for creating a beautiful life that doesn’t need to be expensive."

LDV: What do you currently have on your iPod?

ER: "My current thing is the Puppini Sisters, a girl group from England. They do covers of old music, but it’s updated. One plays the accordion, one plays the bad, another plays the violin and they’re really chic."

LDV: Who are your style icons?

ER:For fashion, Ralph Lauren. His new line, Rugby is amazing. In terms of design, Bill Blass. His house in Connecticut is one of my most favorites. His book, Bill Blass: An American Designer is one of my prized possessions and a definite must-have for design lovers. And of course, Martha Stewart. Oh, and Thomas O’Brien. I love his style. Anthony Todd is great, too.”

LDV: Do you have a favorite travel destination?

ER: “I love Maine and small towns in the Midwest. Those areas are so quaint and beautiful. They have such history. I love seeing different styles and the way people live. I want people to start collecting things. Having a beautiful life is not expensive; it’s just about being creative."

eddie silver

Among the many things Eddie enjoys collecting, is his collection of hard to find, antique hotel silver.

LDV: You are a graduate of the revered Culinary Institute of America, so must be a fabulous cook. What is your favorite type of cuisine? What would you choose to have as your last meal?

ER: “My favorite thing to make is hors d’oeuvres. They’re like little, teeny entrees in one bite. People can enjoy so many flavors at a cocktail party. It’s like eating a bunch of little meals."

For my last meal? I love macaroni and cheese! Yes, homemade with a delicious herb bread crumb crust. For dessert, I’d have my grandma’s Dominican walnut pound cake with rum whip cream. My mom and my grandparents are amazing cooks.”

eddie cocktail

A beautiful spread of hors d'oeuvres at one of Eddie's cocktail parties

LDV: You’ve gone from running your own catering company, working as a food editor for Martha Stewart Living and as a producer on the Food Network to working as an editor at House Beautiful and most recently as Senior Style Editor of Martha Stewart Living. You’ve accomplished all of this at age 30! What’s next for you?

ER: “People have such a hard time believing that I’m only 30, but I am! {He told me his exact date of birth for proof!} They don’t realize that culinary school is only 2 years and the two extra years that I would have spent in college helped give me a boost to accomplish these things. In the future, I would like to do a book and hopefully one day create a line of products that is a reflection of my collections.”

eddie collection

Items from Eddie's extensive collection of silver, china, and crystal

Eddie is also working on doing flea market tours in the city where he would take people to the flea markets and teach them what to look for. He would like to do it in sessions. One day, they’d look for china, another day they would look for crystal, and so on. I, for one, would love to join him on one of these tours and I'm sure many others would, too as it would be such a great learning opportunity.

LDV: Roughly translated, La Dolce Vita means “the good life” in Italian. What is your idea of living la dolce vita?

ER: “My idea of living the good life is to relax and have fun with what you do. Life’s too short. Make it beautiful.”

eddie ross chair after

Eddie’s special note to his blog readers: I’d really like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my blog and to write in so many wonderful comments and ideas. It’s so inspiring to me to hear that the readers really love what I’m doing and that’s what keeps me going."

All Images Via Eddie Ross' Blog

Click here to view Eddie's Professional Portfolio


Anonymous said...

Absolutely fabulous post and Eddie is my favorite to win. He has excellent taste.

Sarah Ring said...

Paloma thank you for posting this wonderful interview! Eddie is also my favorite to win! I love that he hasn't lost touch with who he is while working in such a fabulous world... he seems so grounded and that is touching!

SGM said...

PALOMA! Fantastic interview.

Eddie's my favorite too. Loved his bunker so much. Can't wait to see what makes him apoplectic tonight!

Carrie said...

Awsome post, sweet score on getting an interview with him. Love his style. Thanks for sharing!

Brilliant Asylum said...

I am a recent "ER" fanatic and have been so inspired by his blog. Thank you for doing this terrific interview. I was wondering where he kept all of this flea-market finds.

Jennifer said...

Great interview! And I totally adore him!

Pigtown*Design said...

I just discovered ER a few weeks ago and am totally hooked! I would love to go flea-ing with him... I am only 3 hours away from NYC!

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you all have enjoyed the interview! Eddie is such a sweetheart and is so passionate about what he does. It's infectious!

Pigtown, you totally should! I would love to go to shopping with Eddie the next time I'm in New York. Not only would one learn a lot, but I bet it would be tons of fun.

It's so cute that people are referring to him as ER now. :) Just to clarify, I was only using his initials for the written interview. How funny would it be if someone got to meet him and they called him that?

Anonymous said...

Paloma, my goodness, what a brilliant interview. I feel so out of touch since Hurricane Ike and traveling down to Australia. I just hope that my husband hasn't screwed up my TiVo so I can catch-up on Eddie's designs :) Will be back to read this interview again...


Anonymous said...

This interview is AWESOME! Great job. Eddie's work is gorgeous.

LindsB said...

Love love LOVE this interview! I'm so glad someone got some inside scoop from the man himself...love Eddie and I love your blog! Thanks for posting this!

Jennifer said...

Great interview! He is so adorable and talented!

Funny that we all kind of discovered him at the same time, too!

Cupcakes and Cashmere said...

i love the neutral rooms with a brightly colored vase full of flowers...so pretty!

Unknown said...

linsb, thank you! You are so sweet!

Jennifer, that is what I love about Bravo's awesome reality shows! They open up our eyes to some incredibly talented people.

Adriene Rathbun said...

Fabulous post Paloma. I really enjoyed reading it, and hadn't heard of ER. I've now been to his blog and will bookmark it. Thanks for your great interview!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant interview! Eddie is my favorite. He is such a talent.

Your blog is a favorite of mine and a daily read.

Topsy Turvy said...

What a fabulous interview, Paloma!


Unknown said...

Love him and great interview!

Things That Inspire said...

Great post on a great guy. Before watching Top Design, I was rooting for Ondine because of the set design background, but since the show started I am rooting for ER (still love Ondine, though!). He is a genuine talent, and a genuinely nice guy!

Material Girls said...

Love him! Great interview- he's very talented!