June 1, 2014

Bruce Bierman: 2000 Hall of Fame Inductee

Bruce Bierman Portrait

Bruce Bierman, who defines East Coast style with his sophisticated but understated aesthetic, recounts his auspicious inauguration to the profession. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, he moved to Manhattan and founded

his namesake firm

in 1977. His first assignment came soon after the designer’s debut project-his own apartment-was published in New York. On the strength of the article alone, and without so much as a face-to-face conversation, a potential client immediately flew Mr. Bierman to his sprawling Acapulco retreat to mastermind its subsequent overhaul. Mr. Bierman has since designed five interiors for that individual, a testament to his ability to divine a client’s unique demands, as well as to the seductive impression his work elicits-even in two-dimensional reproduction.

Despite its immediate impact, Mr. Bierman’s work is subtle. It whispers invitingly. For Mr. Bierman strives to create environments that are both viscerally and visually soothing. “I want a client to walk into a space and sigh-a sigh of pleasure,” he says. His methodology is guided by an awareness of and deep respect for the “psychology of space,” an intuitive understanding of how we resonate emotionallywith our surroundings.

This spatial sensitivity, which Mr. Bierman attributes to his dual training in both architecture and fine arts, results in a “creative yet pragmatic design philosphy,” grounded in the logic of how people use their environments. He pushes clients beyond what he considers the standard programmatic requests-“for the space to be warm, inviting, and comfortable”-to communicate their more quotidian concerns, “a sense of how they really live.” Such factors as abundant storage, customized chair heights, and the proximity of lighting to reading areas are paramount to a client’s comfort level and to the longevity of the design. But Mr. Bierman’s abiding pragmatism and his sense of beauty work in concert, evident in his couture-like craftsmanship and a yen for luxurous materials.

Residential projects, ranging from the “traditional to the edgy” include interiors for a french normandy-style house in Oyster Bay, Long Island: a town house and artist’s studio on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a 14,000 square foot Palm Beach residence at The Breakers Hotel, a family compound in Easthampton, New York, a triplex in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, a 15,000 square foot residence in Greenwich, Connecticut, a Fifth Avenue residence, a pre-war Central Park West apartment, and a penthouse loft in Chelsea. Although Mr. Bierman is equally adroit at both classic and contemporary styling, he considers himself a modernist, disdaining trends for a more enduring spirit.

Mr. Bierman approaches his work with the utmost seriousness, but never loses a light hearted outlook, evident in his easy style and his overriding belief that “there is no such thing as a decorating emergency.”

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