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Stephanie Rossi is no wallflower. As the creative mastermind behind interior design firm Spazio Rosso, Rossi has been keeping Boston on its toes with captivating design choices and the fashion chops to match. Arguably one of the most original of Boston's social set, Rossi continuously knocks it out of the park with a closet full of pieces from designers like Jason Wu, Dries van Noten, and Alexander Wang. We caught up with Rossi at her second home, the Boston Design Center, to take a look at some of her audacious accessories and pick her brain on the intersection of fashion and design in the Hub.—Justin Reis
What's the design world here in Boston like? You would think that since fashion and design are both so creative that they would intersect more but I feel like there's a disconnect between the two.
I think that' probably a correct statement. I think it's like we're busy in our own industries so we don't have time to envision the crossover. I know we all know that it's part of our lives but maybe part of our lives in magazines, or online, on websites or apps or something but not physically.
How does fashion directly influence design? How does design influence fashion?
I think that color is a huge foundation for it. There's a lot of brightness going on in design right now that I think is catching up with the way the fashion market changes for seasons. But that's trendy. That may or may not be a good thing—I'm not sure yet. I try really really hard not to get into those trends.
What feeds your inspiration in both fashion and interiors? Is there any overlap?
I wish there was more overlap from fashion influencing interior design choices but the fashion world is tough, you have to do your own interpretation of it and simplify it. I wish it could be a little more of an obvious connection. Fashion is so fleeting. You put something on, you take it off ten minutes later but to put that in someone's home there's a cost associated with it. There's longevity. You have to be realistic about it.
Describe your style in three words.
Edgy; I hate to say the word 'rock' but I literally like wearing rocks, also music-wise; and if my aversion to color wasn't so crazy I would say over-the-top.
What about your taste in fashion differs from your taste in interiors?
For interiors, I'm drawn to the more unique and more different as you can go. A lot of times that is not New England; that is not even America! I mean, literally it's Scandinavia, it's Italy, it's France. That's a whole different market but I'm drawn to those things and getting that interpreted here is hard; in fashion too sometimes. I mean, everyone prides themselves in being unique and I think that because everyone has accessibility to these things, especially online, people are starting to take more risks. You have to push the envelope, which is always a good thing.
Why do you enjoy dressing up? I go to all these events and see you so done up. What drives that desire?
Here is what it is, and this applies to interior design, and a lot of things. If it exists somewhere, like a celebrity or some high-end project or something, if it happened once why not do it again. There's no reason why anybody or any environment should make you think, "I can't do that." If I want to wear a headpiece to an event that is bigger than everyone else's, I know Lady Gaga probably wore one like three weeks ago so, why the hell not? I mean, again, sometimes I probably don't have the resources to go as over the top as I would like, I would probably need a team of people like Daphne Guinness. If I could be a combination of two people it would be Daphne Guinness and Peter Marino. He is frickin' awesome. You take those two people and I'm that.
This January, you were picked as a COUP Boston Visionary recipient. What did that feel like?
That was pretty awesome. I have to say, that was really nice. They did a good job in, like what you're doing, trying to get people that are under the radar, that are doing different things—quietly or loudly—but are small business owners. We don't have a huge marketing budget to support ourselves so it was nice to have that feather in our cap. It was cool.
What are your personal hidden gems here in Boston?
Oh man, I know it's not a secret but honest to god, the Boston Design Center. It's like a huge out in your face secret but for the trade it's fantastic. And 1stdibs, which is a great website. It basically lets antique dealers and storeowners all over the world market their goods: jewelry, fashion, art, antiques, current, and rugs, like everything. It's a one-stop shop. It's addicting. I like 28 Degrees. My friends own it, I love it, and the food is really good. I was there for a tasting for the spring menu and it was great. The ceviche that they're doing is really good and there's this scallop dish, there was a chicken dish, it was all so good. And now I love the juice bar in my kitchen too. My juicer.
What would your dream Boston design project be?
Okay, somebody that had probably a loft space with really great exposed ceilings and large expanses of white walls. They'd be interested in fiber optics, that's my new obsession. I went to a play and they had this amazing fiber optic screen. It was a local production, kids basically, but it was really cool and I was like I think I'm going to put that in my house, so somebody who would want that.
Your husband is a chef. Who designed the kitchen?
Luckily our house has a decent kitchen but we don't cook in it that much. Everyone always asks "Do you guys cook a lot?" and it's like "No, our refrigerator is literally empty."
Who are your five ideal dinner party guests?
Ooh! I've thought about this. Daphne Guinness, Peter Marino, I probably would invite Kelly Wearstler because she's taking on a new coolness that's so awesome. She's evolved immensely and I really admire her design decisions. President Obama. Maybe Ingo Maurer. He's a lighting designer; he's amazing too.