Reimagining space with Ilse Crawford

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She’s the former editor of Elle Decoration, she wrote the best-selling interiors bible, Sensual Home, and she has reimagined more spaces than you and I have had hot baths. Who is she? She’s Ilse Crawford, interior designer extraordinaire and featured luminary on the Netflix series, Abstract: The Art of Design. 

Semi Permanent called up with Abstract executive producer–and former WIRED editor–Scott Dadich, and asked him several questions pertinent to Ilsa’s episode. We also asked him about his post WIRED venture, Godfrey Dadich Partners, and what his plans for retirement are (spoiler: he plans to work; dude’s crazy).
Read the interview below then watch the show. Go.
Do you worry that a time will come when you lose connection with technology and what’s happening? Like, the other day my mother said, “Oh, I don’t know how to play Instagram.” She’s lost touch. Do you ever think about that?
I do, I mean, I feel a bit of that apprehension with platforms like Snapchat that I tried and have friends on, but I don’t click with it; I get how it works, but I don’t feel a strong affinity for using it.
I’m with you on that one. 
That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with snapchat; maybe it just says more about how I’ve grown up and the experiences I’ve had, or maybe it says something about my age or my demographic. So, I do think about it. I guess I probably have some understanding that there will be an expiration date to my skillset and my experiences, and that’s why I do love learning from people so much and keeping people around that challenge me and bring both new exploits and new experiences to bear on my experience set.
Okay, back to Does the viewer need an understanding of design or design history to make the most of the series?Abstact.
Very intentionally, we wanted this to be a show for everyone. Creative people and designers in particular are going to find a great deal of discovery from this, but people who have never pursued any creative goal and don’t have a design background can come it at from the perspective of general curiosity about the way the world works. You can watch, say, Ilse’s episode and come to understand why a sofa looks good in this area and not in that area; or why a certain car gets your pulse quickening versus another that doesn’t.
In the case of Ralph Gilles Episode.
Right. And when you look at the world around you after watching this show, you can’t help but understand it in a different way.
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“I’m driven by my curiosities. By learning more about what made people comfortable in space, researching in Anthropology, Behavioral Science and so on, that really made me understand how we discover the world.”

Ilse Crawford

Okay, Ilse Crawford, interior designer. Why?
Well, she’s an inspirational designer, for me, the team, for Morgan (Neville) and Dave (O’Connor). She’s someone who really spoke volumes about how empathy in design can manifest, considering human emotion and human space. I mean, we spend, what, 80% of our lives inside a space? So everything matters, every surface matters, the finish of every chair and table we use matters.
Very true.
And in so many ways, Ilsa effects the way we live as human beings.
What sort of work does she do?
Well her work and her commissions span everything from airport lounges to the cafeteria at Ikea, to high-end hotels to serving ware and pitches and everyday household items. She’s one of the most accessible designers, and she creates the kind of design that almost every single person earth would experience in one way or another.
Based on that, do you think Ilse’s episode will be the one people will relate to the most?
Well, I think it depends on the person. One of the joys of doing this was that different episodes are going to appeal to different people. And our hope is that, in theory, someone who isn’t involved in design would maybe come through the Netflix discovery engine and find Ralph or Tinker or someone who might give a different path into design.
Right. They’re all very different people.
That was part of the other calculus around how we conducted the casting: the great diversity in practice but also in geography and background could be discovered through the process.
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Aesop London
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 “If you interrogate a situation, actually, the answers present themselves to you.”

Ilse Crawford

The thing I find interesting about interior design is not only does it change the way a person feels when entering a space, it also has an effect on human interaction, doesn’t it?
Oh, absolutely. It sets the stage for the kind of interaction we’ll have, whether it’s public space or intimate space, space for family or space for friends, it really weighs more on our human interaction, person-to-person, than, I would say, most forms of design.
What’s the most important thing we can hope to learn from Ilse’s episode?
I think intentionality is the really valuable vector through all of these episodes, but in Ilse’s episode, intentionality combined with empathy is something that is a real a take away for me. Understanding human condition, relating to humans, watching them, observing how they interact with one another, all of those things are key inputs into her design process.
Has she been to your home and, if so, were you worried about her judging your décor?
(Laughter) No, but I would love to have her over. I’ve been a fan of Ilsa’s for many, many years, and I think if she did come by, she’d recognize a few of her signature stylistic moves, from the green velvet on my couch, to my love of little brass fixtures. 
So you’re a legit fan.
Oh yeah. I’ve been trying–modestly–to emulate her work for several years. But she hasn’t been to my house yet, unfortunately. The second she comes to San Francisco, though, she’s getting a dinner invitation.
I actually can’t think of anything worse than having an interior designer come into my home; I’d be in a panic. I’d probably turn all the lights off and leave before she got there.
It would be daunting. 
Can I ask you a quick question about your new venture, Godfrey Dadich Partners?
I mean, what do you hope for Scott but also the company? What are you going to do when you retire? Maybe that’s a better question.
Well, one of the great decisions about choosing to partner with Patrick (Godfrey) was we both wanted our forever jobs. We’ve both been at different companies for different lengths of time and I have built into this moment where my want is to build a permanent home for my creative outlet. But I don’t know what retirement looks like for me–if it ever looks like a thing–because I get fulfilled by creative work. If I’m lucky enough to see success here–and I believe that we will–that range of opportunities is always going to look different. It might be a collaboration with one of my Abstract friends, all the way to something I can’t yet imagine. 
This interview with Scott Dadich is the seventh after Tinker HatfieldEs DevlinRalph GillesPaula ScherBjarke Ingels and Christoph Neimann in a series of eight that will be released weekly exclusively on
To watch Abstract: The Art of Design, head to Netflix
To follow the adventures of Scott and his Co-CEO partner at Patrick Godfrey at Godfrey Dadich head to @godfreydadich