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It’s no exaggeration to say that Pilar Viladas is one of the most influential women in the design world. Now the architecture and design editor of Town & Country, she is the former design editor of "T Magazine," "The New York Times" style magazine. Her resume also includes stints at "HG," "Progressive Architecture" and "Interiors" magazines and a prestigious Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Her preference is for design that is both beautiful and useful. “I have an idealistic view of design,” she says. “A lot of people tend to see it in terms of the styling of object. We trend to focus on chairs or smart phones—the items that are right in front of us. But design is a much bigger idea than how a lamp works. It’s a way of looking at the world. Design is the difference between going to a train station and being able to find your way around effortlessly or getting lost.”
Comtesse d'Haussonville by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Viladas first saw this portrait of the Comtesse d’Haussonville, painted in 1845 by Jean-August-Dominique Ingres, when she was ten. “In some way, that first encounter with great artists led me to study art history, which turned out to be an excellent background for a design journalist,” she says.
Marcuso Table by Marco Zanuso for Zanotta
Viladas wrote about this table for “T Magazine.” “Seeing it in a Design Research store as a teenager was a light-bulb moment for me,” she says. “I really understood that design was something people DID.”
The de Menil House in Houston. Photograph by William Abranowicz
Viladas says two of her favorite assignments were the stories she did on the de Menil house in Houston and Le Corbusier’s Cabanon in the south of France. “Bill Abranowicz shot the former; Jason Schmidt the latter. One is a Modernist design by Philip Johnson, with interiors by Charles James and museum-quality art; the other is a Modernist log cabin with mostly built-in wood furniture. But they are oddly connected for me,” she says.
Le Corbusier's Cabanon in the South of France. Photograph by Jason Schmidt.
The Cabanon is a vacation home designed by Le Corbusier in 1951.
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In December 2013, Viladas was asked to be the guest editor of Design Miami. “It was fun to take off my journalist's hat for a few days and just wander around the fair, blogging about individual objects, designers, and installations both inside the fair and around Miami,” she says.