20 Questions With Tom Scheerer

Malu Edwards a peek into the seasoned designer's world of wisdom.

August 5, 2022
Malu Edwards

In our series 20 Questions with Malu, New York-based writer, illustrator and creative guru Malu Edwards is catching up with tastemakers from across the globe to find out what makes them tick. This month, she chats with New York–based designer Tom Scheerer.

1. Favorite scent? Vetiver if you are talking perfume, Rigaud Cyprès if you mean a candle, something savory coming from the oven if you mean life.

2. Favorite city to work in? My home city, New York. I love staying in my 40th-floor apartment as much as I enjoy my hours downtown at my office. The rest of my work involves a lot of airplane travel, which I have become less fond of.

3. Favorite city to rest in? Paris, most definitely. I’ve had a house there for 20 years, so I don’t feel the need to run around when I’m there. I can really rest. Leisurely walks, restaurants that I enjoy, and very little shopping!

4. Favorite design époque? 1970’s American modernism: Ward Bennett, Angelo Donghia, John Dickinson, The Baldwins—Benjamin and Billy!

5. A book you’ve read more than once? Tom Scheerer: More Decorating! I read every chapter over and over as I was writing it, and I’ve now read the complete version front to back a couple of times. I’m a decorator, but surprised myself as an OK writer. Every chapter is part of my biography.

6. Favorite poet, painter and composer? Wislawa Szymborska, John Singer Sargent, Stephen Sondheim… These are among too many favorites.

7. Favorite gift you’ve received? A small inheritance, which allowed me the freedom to find myself until age 30.

8. Dream dinner guests, dead or alive? Ladies who lunch—the funny ones: Eileen Atkins, Maggie Smith, Tallulah Bankhead, Kay Thompson, Dorothy Parker.

9. If you could be any animal, which would you be and why? A bird of prey in a national park. The reason is obvious to a person who could spend hours a day on Google Earth.

10. Your four dream dinner guests, living or dead? Virginia Wolf, Gunter Sachs, Queen Elizabeth II and Salvador Dali.

11. Favorite flower? Terrible question. Would you ask for a favorite child?

12. What kind of tree would you be? But I am a tree. An oak. Steadfast.

13. Favorite color? Green, these days.

14. Describe it to us. The bruised leaf of a Chinese money plant.

15. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What would you be and why? They never invented “clear”…or did they? I’d be a medium onto which you could dissolve and mix the other crayons in the box.

16. Your biggest personal achievement? Maintaining a business, supporting an extended family of employees and keeping everybody relatively well fed and happy.

17. Three words your closest friends would use to describe you? Reasoned, generous, clever.

18. Three words your frenemies would use to describe you? Clever, talented and lucky.

19. The best design advice you’ve been ever received? I’ve been given a lot, like make your curtains 3⁄4″ longer than you think you want them.

20. Words to live by? Don’t bother decorating unless you know how to live in a decorated room.