The synergistic secret of designer Fanny Haim.
By Monica Haim | Photographs by Carlos Domenech
It goes without saying that there is a fine line between art and design, but for designer Fanny Haim, that line is a bridge. “From a very young age, I always recognized a unique awareness within, a sense of being propelled by a creative voice that seemed to shape practically everything about my perspective and give meaning to my every day,” says Fanny Haim, veteran designer, fine artist and wife/mother extraordinaire. “I have vivid memories of myself as a little girl leafing through my mother’s House & Garden and House Beautiful magazines, and being enthralled by the magic of these amazing spaces, marveing at the possibilities, and intuitively understanding that it required a certain something to conjure these environments.”
This certain something, according to Haim, is the natural synergy that exists between the worlds of fine art and design, a symbiosis that has fueled her creative essence as an individual and transformed it into an applied career as an awardwinning interior designer for over 25 years. Haim maintains that the key to understanding design lies in tapping into a certain sense of visual balance—the delicate and magical balance that emerges when key aesthetic variables (such as color, texture and composition) line up in some divine synchronicity to ultimately express beauty.
These variables, which she first began to learn about as an emerging fine artist, would later become the building blocks of her design process. “When I am confronted with an empty space, the first approach pertains to space. Therefore, it is about composition; about establishing focal points, finding axis, looking for balance, for symmetry if desired, or asymmetry, if it’s more suited. Once the spatial configuration is established, and I have defined what I like to call the ‘spirit of the space,’ then color and texture are some of the tools in a designer’s arsenal that help to establish and consolidate the design direction. If I am working in a monochromatic palette, the juxtaposition of textures provides the visual interest to offset the limited use of color, for example.” With countless awards to her credit and a client roster that stretches across the globe, Haim maintains that the core of her success is due in large part to the fact that she approaches design with the soul of an artist.
Many years before launching her professional trajectory as a designer, Haim grew up in a home where art was part of her daily sustenance. This laid the groundwork for what would ultimately become her critical need to express. Throughout her childhood, she remained immersed in a world of color, defined by a desire to explore the world from the perspective of creativity, which she says felt like a personal calling from the first moment she could hold a crayon. This need to be creative was recognized by her parents, who were instrumental in creating an environment where this artistic atmosphere would thrive. Art lessons were always part of the agenda, and fortuitous relationships with caring and supportive teachers fueled and encouraged Haim’s passion. “There was never a doubt in my mind as to what my future would be. My path was paved by that very defintive identity that I had forged, and I wanted nothing more.”
In her hometown of Bogotá, she attended the Universidad de los Andes, where she was exposed to incredible talent and a wonderful faculty in the Fine Arts department. It was a time of joyful exploration and learning amid constant stimulation; but the pivotal point that defined her growth as an artist was when she joined the workshop of David Manzur, who at the time was an accomplished and well recognized artist with a very select group of students and a unique, highly disciplined teaching method. “He espoused that drawing was the fundamental tool essential for any artist, and he taught it to perfection. He mentored me, teaching me with brilliance and fervor, all the while pushing me to find my own voice.” Manzur exposed his pupils to music, art and history, and in this way showed them the world. “I vividly recall exquisite moments of sublime inspiration, immersed in the details of drawing a huge plaster angel’s head, freezing in the cold Bogota nights, with Gregorian chants as the musical backdrop.” To this day, Haim says that hearing Palestrina takes her back to those days of sipping tinto to keep warm, and feeling all of the magic in her fingertips.
Years later, as a married woman and young mother, Haim decided to take on the challenge of professional interior design, a medium she always yearned to explore. As a little girl, she remembers feeling compelled to rearrange the furniture, always thinking that she could somehow do it better. “I will never forget my delight when I was finally allowed to design my own room as a teenager, and this fascination with the endless possibilities and the magic of metamorphosis has never left me since.” Today, Haim prides herself on a design philosophy that is at once innovative, relevant, timeless and most critically, artful.