Stan Topol has a penchant for a well-decorated room. The celebrity interior designer and owner of Atlanta-based Stan Topol & Associates worked under the legendary designer Billy Baldwin in New York. Originally from Greenville, Miss., Topol got his start at Delta State University after a short stint at Tulane, which came to an end after he was caught living in the French Quarter with a woman. He went on to study fine art and teach interior design at the Art Institute of Atlanta. His claim to fame is working on the Atlanta home of Elton John.
Topol talked with the AJT about interior design and how to bring comfort and style into any home.
AJT: Looking at your work, I notice your style provides more comfort than most interior designers. How would you describe your work?
Topol: My style is different; it’s called comfortable. You want your client to be able to move through a room without bumping into anything. Interior design is not fashion. I don’t follow trends; I follow what people like. Today, furniture is too low. It’s all about the TV, and I’m all about conversation. It’s much more expensive to do something trendy than to do something stylish and classic.
AJT: How do you begin the process of designing a client’s home?
Topol: I like to walk through their home to see what they wear and where they sit. When I walk through the house, I walk through the living room because I don’t understand not enjoying the living room. I am adamant about the master bedroom and living room, and I always think about who looks good in the room. I also go to the closest and look at what they have and what they think they look good in.
AJT: How do you look for a standout piece?
Topol: A lot of finding great pieces and getting the best pieces is education. For example, I fly to South America if I’m looking for Jean-Michel Frank because he escaped from Germany, and I know where Jews went. I bought a lot of Jean-Michel Frank for clients.
AJT: What was it like designing the home of Sir Elton John?
Topol: I did Elton John’s apartment here in Atlanta three times and some additions. I also did a small house for one of his friends. He interviewed two designers and chose me. He handed me an off-white rose because that is the coloring he likes. “Can you make my apartment look like this?” And I said, “I sure can.” It was the coloring he liked. Elton has taste, and it was a beautiful marriage between an interior designer and a client. I took him to Miller Gallery in New York and helped him start his photography collection.
AJT: Do you normally introduce your clients to different artwork and/or artists?
Topol: My background is in fine art. A few of my clients like my eye. I got one of my clients to purchase the largest Helen Frankenthaler piece in the Southeast, and the artwork in Elton’s apartment was all me.
AJT: What is your advice to someone who is preparing to design a home?
Topol: If you choose an interior designer, make sure you choose someone who understands the style of which you want to live. I think before a person hires an interior designer they need to think about what the person has done. A room shouldn’t look pretentious; pretention is for people who don’t know what they’re doing.
AJT: What are your must-haves for a room?
Topol: A comfortable chair to sit in and a piece of art that’s an investment.