podcast | Oct 16, 2023 |
Anthony Baratta on the joys of a small firm

“Stick with me, and I’ll make you rich and famous.” This promise, from designer William Diamond to his young associate Anthony Baratta in the 1970s, cemented a partnership that would last three decades. It came true, too: Their New York–based firm, Diamond Baratta, rose to fame and fortune in the 1980s and ’90s, bringing an audaciously colorful take on classic American design to the covers of shelter magazines everywhere. At its peak, the pair staffed a bustling Soho office and ordered Sant Ambroeus every day for lunch.

But after the rise came the fall. Diamond left the firm in the 2010s, then tragically died by suicide in 2015. In the aftermath, Baratta was forced to grapple both with losing his creative partner and taking over the reins of a struggling business. Over time, he came to realize he craved focus, not scale, and pared back his firm to just two associates: Erick Espinoza and Jaime Magoon. “I adore every day working with them. It’s uncomplicated, their talent is boundless and I don’t have the stress of having these huge offices,” he tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “It’s a different way to do business as I get older, I enjoy it, I’m not stressed as much—and I get to draw again. … I didn’t feel [that] sense of creativity when all I was doing was managing people.”

Crucial insight: Design partnerships are delicate things. Baratta attributes the long-running success of his relationship with Diamond to a few factors. But perhaps the most important was simple: They had created a look that neither of them could achieve on their own. “We were laser focused on our style. We created something together, and that magic that we had simply could not be reproduced without that level of collaboration,” he says. “Not one decision was made without both of us [weighing in].”

Key quote: “Lately people have been reaching out to me who grew up in a Diamond Baratta house to tell me how much that changed their view of life and how beautiful it was to live in these interiors and how grateful they were to Bill and me,” says Baratta. “I’m not talking about only our work but every designer’s work; it makes a home special. It’s not an Instagram reel, and it’s not a Pinterest board. It’s a real lifestyle, and it’s a real challenge to make these places happy for people.”

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by Loloi Rugs and Hector Finch.

The Thursday Show
Meanwhile, on the latest episode of The Thursday Show, host Dennis Scully and BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus dissect the most recent news in the design industry, including some new developments with the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams bankruptcy case, the acquisition of an iconic wallpaper brand and a look at what’s selling in the world of vintage furniture. Later, BOH editor in chief Kaitlin Petersen discusses the magazine’s fall technology issue, and entrepreneurs Anderson Somerselle and Nancy Evars join the show to share their thoughts on shaking up the multiline showroom model.

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by Four Hands and Design Manager.

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