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Lonny Loves: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Eight questions with Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

1. Currently, what is your favorite piece in the MG+BW collection and why?

That’s always a difficult question because we feel like they’re all our kids. You can’t love one more than the other. Every single piece we have in our collection we have personally been involved with at some point and have given final approval on.

2. What characteristics make a piece of furniture beautiful?

The “nuanced details.” A good example would be the Cedric étagère. If the base treatment were just a straight-down extension of the sides, it would not hit your eye as beautifully as the stepped detail we did. We give each piece some kind of detail that makes it special and takes it away from being pedestrian.

3. How do you reinterpret the past in your designs without the furniture feeling dated?

We look for details that will be familiar to us and our customers. These are often the beginning point, and then we evolve it to a soft and appealing look that we think is “current.” The real trick is how we mix the fabric and frame on a piece or how we mix pieces in a room. For some this comes naturally. For others who might not have the time or inclination, we’ve created the room settings in our catalogs and books so they can just duplicate as closely as they want.

4. In your 21-year history, what are you most proud of?

Well, we’re incredibly proud of creating home furnishings that make people’s homes so comfortable and relaxing. And of having built an extraordinary team, many of whom started their careers here and end up making this their work home for many years. But having an on-site daycare center is something we are especially proud of. We hope we are an inspiration for other workplaces to make it easy for parents to feel secure about their children’s early and formative years.

5. Where do you feel most inspired?

We’re inspired everywhere. We look at the way people want to live, the way we want to live. One of the places where we were most inspired more than 15 years ago was the great antique flea market on the outskirts of Paris. We saw these great leather club chairs from the 1920s and '30s. There was something magical about them to us. We envisioned them looking fantastic in a modern or traditional setting, giving either an air of cool.

6. Where did you grow up, and how has it influenced the way you design?

Bob: I grew up in Conroe, Texas, outside of Houston. I had two big influences. My mother used to take me flea marketing, so at an early age I gained an appreciation for discovering things. The other was that we had fabrics that were not soft on our sofas. I promised myself when I grew up I’d have comfortable fabrics in my home.

Mitchell: I grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. My parents had very nice, midcentury-modern styles in our home. My friends always thought our house was “cool,” so I guess that made me feel like there was something good to that design sense early on. My brother and I were not allowed in the living room, which I resented. I promised myself when I grew up I’d use the living room as much as I wanted and it would be decorated in a way that was welcoming to everyone.

7. Who is the person who most embodies “style”?

Keith McNally is a great example. His restaurants (Balthazar, Pastis, Minetta Lane, to name a few) have the masterful combination of not being overdone or underdone, from the food to the environment to the staff. Keith dresses and acts simply, naturally. He has a sixth sense about what people want and does it with great care.

8. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Mitchell: Eating an Auntie Anne’s pretzel dog.

Bob: Gardening.

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