President, Gil Walsh Interiors www.gilwalsh.com
The Home Trust International (HTI): What first compelled you to enter interior design?
Gil Walsh (GW): I decided as a young child I wanted to understand the interiors world of homes. I came from an artistic family. My Mother was an artist, my father, his father and uncles were all doctors who were musicians at night. Being surrounded by these talented family members allowed me to look inward to our homes and the comfort of the homes and the ‘Stuff’ in our homes. My desire was to learn if this stuff was junk or the real thing. Through my education and experience I learned the stuff was the real thing …good stuff.
HTI: Who or what has been the strongest influence on your career and why?
My family for one. The experiences of travel, visiting museums, art galleries, concert halls with the glorious architecture, the theater where I experienced the design of stage sets and saw the beautiful costumes with the tailoring, the fabrics and the trim of the costumes and how they added the layer to the theater experience. This is where I learned layering and coloring.
HTI: If you could have told your 20-year-old self one thing, what would it have been?
GW: I was fortunate. I knew when I was 10 what I wanted to do, and I wasted no time learning about all facets of design. I have no regret about looking back and saying if I was 20 what would I do? I am doing what I always wanted to do.
HTI: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
GW: My family were all steeped in the arts of both visual and performing. I was surrounded by this from a young age. My sister, brother and I were raised in a small town outside of Pittsburgh Pa. Our parents, to keep us busy and informed, drove us to Pittsburgh weekly to experience the culture of the visual and performing arts. They also placed us in sewing classes to learn the art of tailoring. We were sent to boarding schools at a young age to further our academic and social education. We played golf, tennis and rode horses as well as field sports in school. We grew from there and went on to college with travels abroad where we learned a lot about the culture of other countries which enhanced our knowledge of the world and the arts. This prepared my sister and me to enter our respective professions.
HTI: What is the best advice you have received and who was it from?
GW: My parents. The advice is work in a service field that will become your hobby. Interior Design is my passion and my hobby. I learned to make this a profession with a service to assist future clients make their homes and businesses unique to them
HTI: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products? This need not be specific to your category.
GW: Yes, there is. All good products perform a service, give satisfaction, value. and have quality
HTI: Do you prefer the country or the city?
GW: Having had my roots growing up in a rural area I prefer the country. I enjoy the out of doors, the freedom to have space, the tranquility of the country environment and the wild life.
HTI: What recent project or transaction are you most proud of?
GW: Fallingwater. I was asked by the late Edgar Kaufmann to work with him on restoring the interiors of his Fallingwater home which at that time had become what he referred to as living museum to the same feeling this house had when his Mother was alive.
HTI: In what ways has your company or your industry changed over the years?
GW: To name a few, my company is changing to adapt to the new client needs. We market to our brand, pay more attention to service, provide creativity that is unique and cannot be bought from retail sites.
HTI: The one thing I’ve had forever is:
GW: I would say the one thing I have had forever is my love of color. I work with color. And color can be white or black, red, purple, orange or green. I will forever have my love of color. Material items I have many; but those are not what I’ll have forever.
HTI: What do you miss the most?
GW: The luxury of time and the opportunity to attend classes at a college institution or to read books related to art and travel, walk in the out of doors to observe nature with its color. My happiest days are days that I learn something.
HTI: What makes a room sing?
GW: Each of the rooms I design must have good scale, be classic in design whether it be contemporary, traditional, transitional. Color and layer of color and textures along with styles, shapes of upholstery are key along with the mix of patterning and textures. The lighting of the space for day and night brings our rooms alive. Lastly the layering of art punctuates the room.
HTI: What place most inspires you?
GW: For me there are two places, Monticello with its sense of scale, proportion and classic detail and the other is Fallingwater with its organic feeling.
HTI: Please tell us about your taste in books. Do you have a favorite author or artist?
GW: I love all art books particularly catalogues from art galleries and museums. My favorite artists are Mark Rothko and Joni Mitchell to name a few.
HTI: Do you have a favorite museum? Why is it your favorite?
GW: In America my go-to museums are Metropolitan Museum, The National Art Gallery and the Guggenheim
HTI: What is your favorite brand and why?
GW: My favorite brand is Kravet with all its offerings to the interior world.
HTI: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
GW: You can find me on a golf course, walking my puppies, reading my art periodicals and books.
HTI: What makes a great organization?
GW: The collaboration of great talent.
HTI: Why The Home Trust?
GW: The Home Trust speaks to quality and luxury and it is an honor to be aligned with them.
HTI: If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?
GW: I would be a landscape architect.
HTI: Gil, thank you for your time and insights into your brilliant career and talents.
Gil is Principal and Owner of Gil Walsh Interiors, LLC of West Palm Beach, New York and Martha’s Vineyard.
Gil has led over $200 million in design work over 40 years. She earned a BA from Chatham University and a BFA at the Art Institute in Pittsburgh.
Gil is a Kaufman Society Member of the Advisory Board of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. She served on the Board of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Board of the Phipps Conservatory, the Board of the Pittsburgh Center for The Arts and on the Board of the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. She’s a Patron level sponsor of the Preservation Foundation of the Palm Beaches, a member of the Circle of Friends and Art Speaks at the Norton Museum, a committee member for the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, a Gracie Member of the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, a sustaining member of the National Junior League and a member of the Garden Club of America.
Gil is also a Member of the National Committee for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, a Senior Member of the Decorators Club in New York City and most recently was selected to become a member of the Design Leadership Network.