Even while having a successful career as an entertainer, Patti Austin, co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, reveals that her first love was interior design. An avid believer in the power of mentorship, Patti discusses her first mentor in the design world – her mother. “My earliest design mentor was my stunning mother, Edna. Edna would wait until my father left for his night job, then she would re-arrange the house. Frequently! It was hilarious hearing my father come home early in the morning after his shift was done and bump into a newly designed furniture layout. My dad got used to it because my mother was constantly ‘rejuvenating her nest.’
It’s a habit Patti picked up. “Design has been a part of my life forever. Music and design are akin to one another. You compose a room just like you compose music; you arrange. I am always creating interesting and effective ‘nests.’ When I was a child, we lived on a very frugal budget, and my parents often would take on more work by cleaning the opulent homes in Fire Island, New York. At 4 years old, I thought these were our homes and I developed a lifelong appreciation for exquisite spaces and objects.
I admit that upon first glance, few places ever get it right for me. One of the first things I do to my space is “Patti-ize” the room. I’ll even do it in a hotel, move the chair a bit to the left, place the lamp where it feels right to me. So, I guess I can say I have arranged thousands of spaces. And I’ve got my personal mentor, my mom, to thank for that.”
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