Iris Apfel Reveals Why It’s Okay to Make Mistakes When Decorating

Jordi Lippe-Mcgraw

Most people in their 90s are slowing down, but not Iris Apfel. At 98 years old, the former textile and interior designer (she redecorated the White House multiple times) is more of an icon than ever. She signed a modeling contract with IMG this year, and she continues to launch new products.

In fact, Apfel just released a new collection of glassware with Nude Glass that is available exclusively at Neiman Marcus. The pieces include a beak carafe with tumblers, dot-adorned vases, colorful Apfel-shaped paperweights, and limited-edition figurines (only 98 will be made) of the legend. It was through this collaboration that Architectural Digest was able to sit down with Apfel to get her opinion on all things design.

Architectural Digest: You just launched this Nude Glass Neiman Marcus collection that features a very eclectic mix of products. What was your input when it came to the design?

Iris Apfel: They're fun. I like to have fun. I think when I design things, I like to be able to smile and feel happy. The world is so gray, and we need to have some pizzazz.

A figure of Apfel from her new Nude Glass Neiman Marcus collection.

AD: Where did your inspiration come from for this project?

IA: I don't know where inspiration comes from. Ask God! I don't analyze those things. I think that's phony. I feel what I think is right, so I do it. Sometimes it's not right.

AD: What's your top home-design tip?

IA: I think the problem with design today is that it's too generic. I think everybody looks alike today with what they wear, and everybody's houses do too. I'd rather see some mistakes, but some personality. I like to walk into a house and know you live there. Not just walk in and have it look like a thousand-dollar hotel room. But I don't give advice. It's not my business.

A set of glassware from Apfel’s new collection.

AD: Is there a mistake that you grew to love at your house?

IA: I don't think so. I love my house. Maybe that's a mistake!

AD: When you live in a place for so long, how do you keep it feeling fresh?

IA: Oh, I keep moving things around. Even if it's not easy, we move it. [My aide] is terrific and moves things daily. She could move the Brooklyn Bridge if I wanted!

AD: What was the best piece of home design advice you've ever been given?

IA: Oh, I don't know. My mind doesn't work that way. It would be pretty sad if there were only one good piece of advice I got in 98 years! Everything that I hear that is good. I listened to everything and tried to use it.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest