No to spotlights, yes to tablecloths... and other 'Notes on Decor' from Paul Fortune

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The interior designer Paul Fortune never really had a plan when it came to his career. Quite the opposite. Unlike today’s success-oriented "kids," he says. “I just wanted to take drugs and have sex and run around and have a good time.”

But the British-born, Ojai-based Fortune arrived in LA in the 1970s armed with an art education, louche charm and acerbic wit and somehow everything fell into place. 

Fortune became the go-to designer for decades, creating Les Deux Cafe with Michele Lamy, Sunset Tower Hotel and working with designer Marc Jacobs, to name but a few of his projects. 

Cover of “Notes on Decor, etc.” by Paul Fortune

Now Fortune has written a book: “Notes on Decor, etc.” 

It’s the “etc.” part that matters because the book is not your regular monograph or coffee table book, even though it has elements of both. Rather, it’s a mix of memoir and opinion and “how to,” all delivered with sardonic wit.

He dropped by the station and riffed on the lessons drawn from an unplanned life.

DnA gets to hear about LA when “it was empty but perfect” and you could meet Fred Astaire or run into Ella Fitzgerald at the dry cleaners, without fear of being snapped on an iPhone. 

Interior by Paul Fortune demonstrates his commitment to interiors that are “restful, not stressful.” Photo credit: Kayleigh Jankowski

He talks about early projects: a Eurythmics album cover and some spiky fluorescent Plexiglas cacti for a baby shower for a friend of Barbra Streisand.

And Fortune shares his unvarnished opinions on what makes for liveable interiors: no to spotlights (they make you look like the Bride of Dracula); yes to tablecloths in restaurants (they soften the diner’s immediate environment); no to cold whites and primary colors (“I'm terrified of red and yellow and blue”); and no to eating in LA’s noisy restaurants today.

“You might as well be lying at the end of the runway at LAX,” he says, concluding that his book is about making “your own experience comfortable” in a world that is in hyperdrive.

Paul Fortune says he doesn’t have a “look,” just a sense of how to combine colors, textures, lighting and furnishings in a way that feels right. Photo credit: Kayleigh Jankowski