Principal of Stonehill Taylor’s Interior’s Division, Sara Duffy is perhaps best known for designing the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport’s historic TWA Flight Center. With a background in art history and television, she’s able to craft a unique, immersive narrative for each of her projects while focusing on thoughtful, classic design. Her impressive variety of projects includes the Nomad Hotel and Bar in New York, and its reiteration in Las Vegas, and the J.W. Marriott Nashville. Sara has worked with renowned hospitality developers such as the Sydell Group, Eleven Madison Park’s Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, Marriott International, Turnberry Associates, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and received her Associate of Applied Science in Interior Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Today Sara joins us for Friday Five!
1. My Childhood Home
My mom still lives in the Upper West Side apartment where I grew up. It’s a fabulous pre-war, high-ceilinged apartment that she has rented since 1972. My mom, also an Interior Designer, has always expressed her excellent taste and sense of style within this space. For example, as a kid, our bathroom was bright – ceiling and all! – and now it has a soft white palette with original turn-of-the-century tiles. Although the apartment’s look is ever-changing, she always honors its original details such as the wood paneling, parquet floors and amazing fireplaces. It is this marriage of more daring design decisions with a respect for a space’s original bones that has been so influential to my work as a designer. Plus, it didn’t hurt that I was always surrounded by great design, art, books and amazing people as a kid.
2. Museum of Natural History
As a young kid, my mother and I were constantly at museums – The Met, Guggenheim and Whitney – but the Museum of Natural History, only a few blocks from our apartment, was my favorite. It has been a constant throughout my life. As a teenager, my friends and I would pay the 10-cent entry fee and play tag or run from the guards. Now as a mom, I have taken my children to the museum numerous times and even stayed overnight with my older daughter on a Girl Scouts trip. Not only has the museum become like an extension of my own home, but it was the first place where I experienced a true appreciation for architecture. The “whale room” will always remain one of my favorite places in NYC.
The people, architecture and design of Barcelona will always be one of my greatest inspirations. My husband and I lived there for a year with our daughter Ella, and that is when I fell in love with Antoni Gaudí. We lived in a beautiful apartment just a few blocks from Sagrada Familia and went to see every one of his buildings and parks. My daughter’s favorite place was the Parc Guell. Gaudi’s sensual forms, curves and unprecedented ideas are truly awe-inspiring. His work motivates me as a designer to think out of the box and not be afraid of taking risks.
4. Cigarette Holder
I have always loved this 1920s cigarette holder that belonged to my Aunt Marge. It feels good in your hand and is slightly curved so it can fit nicely into a man’s inner coat pocket. As a kid, I always thought about who designed it and how clever they were.
5. Dutch, My Three-Legged Pitbull
I have a three-legged pitbull, Dutch, who I adore. She spent most of the first 9 months of her life in a crate and is missing a leg, and yet she is so happy and excited every day. Walking into the house after a long day and having her come running to see me always makes me smile.
Work by Sara Duffy: