Georgia Tapert owns Georgia Tapert Living, a store in Soho full of the kinds of things that cheer the spirit — the kind of store that is really the place you’d go when a bit of self-gifting is in order. Her home, like her store, is dread, overused word: eclectic – no empty surfaces and airline lounge minimalism, not a style we at NYSD HOUSE have ever embraced.
She seems to be coming to a point in her life where she is accepting who she is and what she can do with her talents, realizing that she’s probably not going to save the world by slogging through a Masters degree in social work (something she once considered), and that despite having told everyone she loves cooking, she actually doesn’t. It’s a good place to be, and we wish her every happiness on her forthcoming wedding and possible move to the West Coast.
I was wondering about running your own business – how did you take to that, the business side of things as opposed to the aesthetic side?
Well, I do love being my own boss certainly, but it’s definitely more stressful than any other job I’ve ever had.
Does it keep you awake at night?
It does. Absolutely. You know I’ve gotten a little better. Once the economy just got so bad … in the beginning I thought, you know it won’t affect the store … and then starting around February or March, I started to see, and I thought, you know, this is what it is and I need to focus on what I can control.
What did you end up choosing to do to weather this?
Even since I opened, which was a year and a half ago before all of this happened, I really wanted to have a broad price point. I have a handful of friends that can come in and buy the $900 cashmere blankets but I have more friends that can’t and they want a little object to make their side table look pretty and they have $150 to spend. I don’t want people to come in the store and find it prohibitively expensive. That’s not me, that’s not my budget and it’s not most of the people that I’m friends with – and initially that was my customer.
Are there any designs or trends you’re glad to see the back of?
Color, I mean I think color is coming back a little bit. It was so neutral for so long.
You worked for David Easton, what was that like?
He’s a character! I mean he’s just incredibly talented and inspiring, I mean beyond just his aesthetic. I worked for him for a couple of summers when I was college – he was the only person who would actually pay me.
We found him kind of kooky.
Oh he’s totally kooky! Totally kooky!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in New York. I was born in London and lived in London until I was about seven and then we moved here.
Where do you like to travel?
I just love adventure. The last big trip I did, we went to India. I went with my fiancé.
What did you think of India?
I loved it. I’ve been before, I went a few years, just sort of on vacation. Then Lou and I went, [it was] work for me, and he’s a writer, so he did some writing.
I found India completely and utterly filthy.
It was. People love it or hate it. To me it’s an adventure every time you step out of the hotel …
I couldn’t get over how the people were so beautiful and immaculately dressed but there was shit everywhere. They have an ability to ignore it that I don’t understand.
You’re right. They do [ignore it]. I mean think they’re just used to it … it’s certainly disturbing but it doesn’t bother me so much. I lived in Vietnam for about eight months, teaching English in orphanage outside of Denang. It was incredible. I loved every second of it. One of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen was when we took a bus from Cambodia to the Thailand border. It was one of the worst places you’ll ever see because there’s all the sex-trafficking. And you have to walk over, literally get out of the bus and get on a second bus. After I’d seen that, I thought, I’m prepared for anything.
Do you have a problem dealing with your privilege?
When I first came back I had a much harder time dealing with it. I was going to get my Masters in social work and I decided ultimately that I was not ready to do that. I said to myself, Why do I want to do this design work? It’s just silly, this design stuff … I should be out there saving the world, I’ve had such an easy, perfect life … but, you don’t have to be a martyr … like you can have a second career. Do what you want to do.
What about this literary salon that you started?
Oh, the PEN Edmont Society. And my mother [Annette Tapert] was saying, oh the Young Lions have their thing, and there are others. We need to get a younger face of PEN. Stephanie, being very good at jumping on the ball and got really excited about it.
We had our first event last October and we’re having another one this fall. But really what we want is not to just have parties, we want to get people to volunteer for the Readers and Writers program, which is a program for high school kids in New York City. It’s really geared to students who already have an interest in [literature and writing] to open their eyes, among other things, to have writers to come in and speak with them. I mean they go home to a place where their parents are maybe not going to sit and talk with them about ‘The Age of Innocence’ or whatever, I don’t know …
Did you do that when you were growing up?
Well my parents are writers. Actually my father is not a writer. My stepfather is a writer, Jesse Kornbluth.
We know Jesse Kornbluth. He’s got very strong opinions. What did he tell you read?
He just encouraged reading. If I wanted to read ‘The Babysitters’ Club’, that was great. Nancy Drew, whatever. As long as we were reading he didn’t give a shit. And he was great. I would read some book, some mystery or whatever, and I would say [whispers], You have to read this. And he would read it.
Did he read ‘The Babysitters’ Club’?
He would have, if I had asked.
What do you like to read now?
Certainly not ‘The Babysitters’ Club’ … although. I do read a lot of non-fiction. I’ll read biographies. My new thing is I’m going to read a classic every other book. I just bought ‘Middlemarch’.
Do like to cook?
I really thought for a long time that I liked to cook, and then I realized, I don’t like to cook as much as I thought I did. It’s one of those things I used to say…