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CasaSugar Interviews Domino Founding Editor in Chief Deborah Needleman 2009-08-03 09:00:54

Casa Interview, Part I: Domino Founding Editor Deborah Needleman (and an Awesome Giveaway!)

We design enthusiasts will admit that Domino will always hold a special place in our hearts — and bookshelves. But it was the stable of talented, creative people that truly made the beloved magazine an influence and an inspiration. So I was so delighted to have the chance to catch up with the founding editor-in-chief of Domino and co-author of Domino: The Book of Decorating, Deborah Needleman. It should come as no surprise that she hasn't lost her knack and passion for design.

Deborah's latest project is an exciting, interactive tool that she's created for HomeGoods, called StyleScope, which helps you find your own interior design style and learn to navigate the vast world of décor options. Home Goods, I hope you know, is a wonderful place to find designer home décor at prices 20 to 60 percent lower than department stores, and is also one of my favorite resources for stylish accessories. Deborah was kind enough to share some of her thoughts and tips on design and curating a stylish home that's uniquely you, and give us the lowdown on her life these days!

What are you working on these days? Any exciting projects on the horizon for you?
I am really enjoying the idea of just doing projects, consulting, writing, gardening — I probably shouldn't admit it, but it's quite a good relief to not be working so hard and to have a break from the pressure. I am considering on a couple book projects — one on table settings, another on decorators' gardens, and a more personal book on growing vegetables and flowers.


Before Domino, I was a garden writer — and it's nice to have time to garden like mad again. I'm also talking to people and companies about designing furniture and accessories and starting up new businesses. Sometimes I feel like I'm a professional meeting-taker. Last night the former creative director of Domino [Sara Ruffin Costello] and I hatched a plan to try to redesign all the ugly products at Duane Reade like Kleenex boxes, toothpaste, and shaving cream!

To read the rest of the interview,


For the Summer, I'm just hanging out with my children, gardening, and being as lazy as possible. I've loved working with HomeGoods because oddly the store is a well-kept secret among design snobs — and I love spreading the word about great design sources.  That was what Domino was about: sharing ideas and resources. And creating a style quiz was something we wanted to do but never got around to at Domino.

What current trends do you think have staying power?

Decorating that has personality and a sense of reality rather than rooms that are too matchy or too perfect. Rooms that are stiff and lifeless really depress me!! Mixing high and low design and price points will remain chic, and not simply for economic reasons — it shows personality and confidence. Also, now that nearly everyone is interested in design, there is no going back. It's a better decorated world than it used to be, and that is so nice!

What are your favorite go-to resources for furniture? How about accessories?

I am decorating my house upstate (well, really former Domino editor Rita Konig is!) and I can't get enough of the fabrics, rugs, cushions, and accessories from John Robshaw, Madeleine Weinrib, and John Derian.

What’s your number one tip for finding great bargains?

I am married to a man who will buy something truly awful because he "saved so much." Something is only a great bargain if you would want it even if it cost more. I learned from Domino editor Dara Caponigro to never let anything in my house I don't love. Even free stuff is not a bargain if you don't need or love it — it is junk, clutter. Also, you must know your own style more if you're wading through a flea market or garage sale than if you're in a boutique where the owner has done all the taste-editing for you already!

What types of furnishings should one splurge on/invest in? Any to cut back on?

It's so personal. It really only matters what matters to you. I believe in expensive sheets. I like sleeping, and good sheets are a wonderful indulgence.

How did working at Domino influence your own decorating habits or design choices?
As a reader, I craved a magazine like Domino because I was a person who I felt had good taste, but not great style, if you know what I mean. I could never make a decision because I could never decide who I was stylistically or how to express myself!! I surrounded myself at the magazine with people who I thought had great taste and great style (and all rather different style sensibilities actually), and who were all also really smart and nice — so they could teach me and the readers simultaneously. I learned to edit! I learned I could have a lot of different styles I like but just not all at once!!! And I learned to both be braver and to loosen up more. You can't avoid making some mistakes. But truthfully, I also learned that there is a lot to learn, that decorating well isn't easy, and that there are people way better at it than me — and that I still want their help! I love the advice of experts. Sadly, for me, the more I know, the more I know I don't know! Domino also made me realize how important decorating can be to the life of a home, and the life of a family.

This interview will be continued, so stay tuned for more. And we have a special giveaway for you CasaSugar readers on the way! One of you lucky readers will win a $500 gift card to HomeGoods. Check back for the rest of the interview and details about the giveaway tomorrow!


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