Memories mean a lot to all of us — it’s hard for us to let go of them. The loss of memories through Alzheimer’s is devastating to loved ones. Even the most painful memories are hard to let go of, despite those moments when we’re urged to do so because they cause more harm than good.
What united designer Alessandra Branca and the attendees at the May 24 Landmark Luncheon at Tudor Place, the historic estate on 31st Street in Georgetown, were, thankfully, good memories.
Branca came to Tudor Place to honor a friend’s memory. That woman is Elizabeth Powell, who was well known and is still fondly remembered at Tudor Place. Branca met Elizabeth Powell through her husband, Jeff Powell. When talking of her friend, who died of lung cancer two years ago, Branca spoke in a tone that indicated the deep bond between the two women.
Branca’s philosophy as an interior designer was reflected in something she said that day: “We can embrace the past, but we all have to live in the present as well.”
That philosophy echoed throughout the event. Many of the attendees were women and they were dressed in ways that signaled the welcome of warm weather and blooming flowers. Branca herself was wearing a dress with a classic pattern of white and a vivid shade of red — red is a color that she loves.
While celebrating the beauty of life in the present, that Thursday was also a day for Branca to celebrate the memories she had accumulated with clients over the years, clients that included the Powells. She mentioned what she called “Elizabeth’s first living room,” which she remembered as “a wonderful project.” Branca saw there was a lot of gray, which she found sad and not representative of Elizabeth’s personality. “This client, more than anything, represents sunshine,” she said. The result was an interplay of coral, gray and sunshine yellow. “You can meander around this room.”
Branca believes in the importance of living in the rooms that she brings to life through her interior design. Living in those rooms can also include dogs hanging out there; a good blanket is necessary, she said, in order to keep the room neat. A room that is lived in is not only a place to spend time alone and with family, but also a place to hold events, such as a book club meeting or a birthday party.
When doing interior design, the work requires one to be aware of the client’s time and life, Branca said. To focus solely on making the rooms look pretty is superficial — a common misconception that clients have about interior designers. The work of an interior designer, she said, involves the need to infuse soul into the rooms. This is an unspoken belief that many interior designers have adopted in their work.
The client, the client’s neighbors and the people who don’t know who the client is are factors that Branca takes into consideration when she designs. “It’s about exalting each other,” she said.