The inspired living of Stephanie-meets-Rizzoli

Published March 7, 2022, 12:13 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Back in the 1990’s, any of my trips to New York City would include a visit to a hallowed bookstore on 57th and 5th, the Rizzoli bookstore. For me, it was like walking into an art installation or on to the living pages of an exquisite coffee table book centered on fine living. The view of the bookstore from the street, the lush interiors, the array of beautiful, collectible books all formed aspects of the rarefied Rizzoli experience. While the store moved to Broadway, the NoMad area, in 2015, that atmosphere is still very much intact, so it was with great pleasure to read that Stephanie Kienle-Gonzales will soon have her very first book published by Rizzoli New York.

Embracing Natural Design: Inspired Living by Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez, foreword by India Hicks, will be released by Rizzoli New York later in the month. It’s a beautiful, hardcover coffee table book with 224 pages filled with 250 color photographs that vividly showcase Stephanie’s environmentally conscious lifestyle. It’s stylish homes that blend the artisanal craftsmanship Stephanie champions personally and through the family company Philux, with her fresh, naturalistic design approach. 
Stephanie has her own Rizzoli story, one that makes this journey such a special one, “Growing up, I would visit homes and pore over large coffee table books brimming with gorgeous imagery. I recall seeing the foiled Rizzoli ‘R’ on the book spines, and have ever since associated it with evocative design.”

“It was an incredible learning experience for me to work on this book with Rizzoli. I was so honored to have a publishing house of this prestige express interest in my work, and decided to seize the opportunity and absorb everything I could. My editor was based in New York, my book designer in Cape Town, and I was in Manila throughout the pandemic. We persevered with a good working pace despite the time difference—a true trans-continental collaboration I am grateful for, and proud of.”
As for Stephanie’s design philosophy, she has this to say, “My design philosophy for inspired living is that a warm and beautiful home is an extension of your identity—your life’s experiences and memories. Thoughtful layering in interiors that blend form, functions and sentiment, giving meaning to a space.”

In Manila

The book highlights Stephanie and Chris’ apartment in Manila and their family retreat in Lapalapa Reserve, South Africa. There is a chapter about Entertaining, and sharing her home with family and friends, followed by a section devoted to the designers and tastemakers who have moved Stephanie. There’s a Design Guide, and chapter on Stephanie At Work, which is the Kienle family story of Philux. Philux is one our country’s leading home furnishing manufacturers and retailers, and she is currently at the helm of the company.

In South Africa.

I ask Stephanie about the dichotomy between the picture perfect look for a home versus the lived-in aspect and how she marries the two to create authenticity. And I loved her reply: “Every decision about the design of our family home was made with my daughters in mind. My husband Chris and I may have vowed that we wouldn’t change our lifestyle when they came into our lives, but our home reflects their presence. The pen marks on the furniture, the tiny handprints on our windows, and the odd stuffed toy buried under our throw pillows. This makes our home all the more special to me, as their playfulness inspire me every day.”

Asking her how she hopes the book will resonate with its readers, she says, “I hope that Embracing Natural Design inspires its readers to create their own authentic spaces that brings them joy, and discover a passion to live more consciously.” And I’m sure that giving you images from the book will say much more than adding paragraphs of text.

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